DC Comics is looking to one up Marvel’s Secret Empire with a similar mini-series in the form of Nightwing: The New Order. Unlike Marvel’s Secret Empire, Nightwing: The New Order is set in it’s own universe, in essence bringing back their Elseworld line of comic books. Making things even more interesting is that Nightwing: The New Order will mark the return of Kyle Higgins to DC. Having previously written Batman: Gates of Gotham and New 52’s Nightwing ongoing, Higgins knows has a strong background writing Dick Grayson’s character. How will Higgins apply everything he has done with Dick Grayson in the past in this new mini-series that is setting up the beloved character in possibly a villainous light? Let’s find out with Nightwing: The New Order #1.
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Colorist: Dean White
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Twelve years ago Nightwing stands in a destroyed Metropolis with people on the ground in pain. A bloodied Superman asks Nightwing why he would do such a thing. Nightwing tells Superman he had to save the world.
As he walks away Nightwing leaves Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern, Flash and other meta-humans lying powerless on the ground.
In the present Dick Grayson leads a chase to capture Arthur Light (Doctor Light), who has not taken his meta-human medication in two weeks. The chase ends up in an alley where Dick and his team of Crusaders arrest Arthur. Dick gives Arthur his medication and has the Crusaders take him away.
Sometime later Dick holds a press conference to let the media know the details of why Arthur was arrested. During the press conference he reminds everyone how it is illegal to have metahuman abilities and he will continue to fight to keep the United States safe.
After ending the press conference Dick signs a Nightwing picture for a fan.
Back at his office a Crusaders officer named Liz gives Dick a hard time for still trying being an active field agent in his old age and while being the head of the Crusaders. Dick mentions that Commissioner Gordon used to be active on the field, though Liz reminds Dick that Gordon died because of it. Dick ends the discussion before their argument gets heated.
Dick meets up with another Crusader named Brady. Brady shows Dick and Liz the news that someone broke into an inhibitor medication facility and destroyed three months worth of supplies. Dick tells Brady to get a strike team ready to investigate the situation.
Another Crusader named Jill enters and reminds Dick that it’s Tuesday and he has dinner with his son schedule. Dick heads out, leaving Brady and Liz to handle the planning for tomorrow’s mission.
Dick rushes home and tells his son Jake to be ready for dinner. Alfred tells Dick not to worry as he and Jake already started getting dinner ready.
During dinner Jake talks about how he made the basketball team and how he almost got into a fight with a kid named Chris about which position to play. Jake then asks Alfred about embarrassing stories about his dad. Alfred jokes that there isn’t enough time in the day to go over each of those stories.
Dick reminds Jake about his Algebra grades and how he needs to improve them quickly.
Later in the night Jake goes to bed. Now alone, Alfred and Dick catch up with one another as Alfred reveals that he is almost done with the expansion to the museum to Bruce’s estate.
Alfred asks Dick if he has heard anything from Jake’s mother. Dick says he has not and that he still doesn’t understand why she left.
Alfred brings up how he heard about Arthur’s arrest. Alfred express concern over how Dick has suppressed something that is natural to some people. Dick brings up how dangerous superpowers are, reminding Alfred what happened before Bruce died and the Metropolis incident. Alfred understands but still expresses how he still can’t believe how everything went down.
Later that night Dick goes over Jake’s homework. Jake asks Dick why he gave up being Nightwing. Dick skirts around actually answering the question. Jake brings up how Chris wasn’t mad at him for a basketball position but for what Dick did to take away people’s powers.
Jake then asks how there can still be people with powers if Dick took them away. Dick says that the inhibitors did not work on everyone. Dick goes on to say that he does not regret everything he has done and that his decisions were to keep the people he cares most about safe.
Sometime later the Crusaders investigate the facility that was broken into. They discover that Wally West was the one who found the facility and destroyed the supplies. Dick gets a call from Jake’s school that forces him to leave the investigation.
At Jake’s school one of his teacher’s tells Dick that there was an incident with Jake. She mentions that outside of herself and the basketball coach no one knows what happened with Jake.
The teacher takes Dick to the room Jake is alone in. Dick is surprised to find that his Jake’s eyes are glowing, showing that his meta-human powers have manifested. End of issue.
The Good: The comparisons to Secret Empire will be something that will likely follow Nightwing: The New Order’s early issue. That is something that Kyle Higgins address right away as he makes it clear this is a Dick Grayson story, and not someone else who has taken over the character’s identity. In doing so Higgins is able to deliver an opening issue with that created an intriguing new DC Universe to learn about.
Identifying the Nightwing: The New Order’s similarities to Secret Empire is one of the strengths of this first issue. Higgins does not shy away from the similarities. In not being afraid of fans thinking about Marvel’s big event Higgins is able to directly address what makes his story much different. And that all comes down to the type of conviction Higgins gives Dick Grayson’s character throughout Nightwing: The New Order #1.
Where we all know that Secret Empire will end with the heroic Steve Rogers returning as Captain America, there is absolutely no sign of that with Dick Grayson. Higgins makes it clear to the reader that this is Dick Grayson and that there is no mind control or something else going on. In doing so Higgins is able to create a sense of permanence to Dick’s decision to take out the meta-humans of this DC Universe was his own.
As Nightwing: The New Order #1 went on Higgins does a very good job adding layers to the decision that opened the story. Little details such as the fact Bruce died before Dick as Nightwing took out the meta-humans was a big thing to learn. This, along with a tease that a Crisis like event happened before Nightwing’s fight in Metropolis, feeds into how this wasn’t an easy decision for Dick to make. But it is a decision that Dick felt he needed to take on and put any hate towards that decision on his shoulders to bear.
What makes this take on Dick Grayson even more intriguing is the parallels we see with his character and that of Superman from the Injustice Universe and Batman from Kingdom Come. Though he is not a straight up villain like Superman was in Injustice, it is clear that Dick is not putting up with allowing any sort of meta-human running free. That brings up the question what exactly happened to make Dick take this turn as it does seem as though something happened like when Superman mistakenly killed Lois Lane in Injustice.
The Crusaders as the policing force of the United States also draws similarities to how Bruce had Batman mech guards protecting Gotham City in Kingdom Come. Dick takes things a step further by having them protect the entire country. Establishing Dick as the leader of the group gave more of a personal touch to how he will eventually clash with them as he deals with the situation with his son.
Higgins does a good job in giving the Crusaders a few faces we get to know as Liz and Brady make an instant impact on the story. The interaction between the two and Dick shows that there is already a history between these characters. This helps build on the idea of how Dick has been leading the Crusaders for a while now. It also gives Higgins some room to explore a couple other character perspectives as it is clear that Liz and Brady will be major supporting characters to the story.
Bringing in Alfred helped further establishes how much time has passed in this DC Universe. The discussion between Dick and Alfred was painfully emotional. Higgins did a good job using this scene to give a sense of what led to Dick’s decisions, as mentioned earlier. Seeing Alfred still saddened by Dick’s decisions showed that the current status quo isn’t accepted by everyone. Though Alfred somewhat accepting Dick’s decisions does show that Alfred still wants to see the best in the person he helped raise.
The same can’t be said for other meta-humans still running around. We got hints of how meta-humans perceive Dick with Doctor Light’s appearance as he tried to break free from the inhibitor medication he was placed in. Having a familiar character in the present, such as Doctor Light, helped establish that there are still metas around. That is further hinted at with Wally West being a resistance fighter and that Dick has meta-humans locked up who have immunity to the inhibitor medication. These elements drive home that while Dick is the protagonist he isn’t the hero of this story.
All of this leads to making the cliffhanger ending of Dick’s son, Jake Grayson, being a meta-human have a greater impact into the story. Seeing as the story of Nightwing: The New Order #1 was all told from the future Jake’s perspective does lead to question how things actually turn out. Through this decision Higgins creates the idea that things will not go well for Dick as he prioritizes protecting his son over everything else.
Adding further interest in Jake’s story is the mystery as to who his mother is. Higgins hints that Dick’s future wife was a meta-human who left because of his decision to take powers away, including hers. Given the preview of Jake’s power it could be Starfire, though the skin tone is different. Whoever she may be will be an intriguing sub-plot to follow as Higgins hints towards her reveal more.
Trevor McCarthy adds to the proceedings by giving Nightwing: The New Order #1 a dark tone visually. McCarthy creates the idea that this story does take place in the future but not to far as technology doesn’t go as far as the Gotham City in Batman Beyond. He further adds to the story with how he draws each character’s emotions.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Nightwing: The New Order #1 is a strong start to what should be an incredible Elseworld. Kyle Higgins did an excellent job giving us enough background to understand why Dick Grayson would turn on the superhero community and his new conviction as he leads the Crusaders organization. That character development made the cliffhanger ending have a greater impact to the rest of this mini-series as we explore this DC Universe more.