"Nightwing" #22 has Kyle Higgins and Will Conrad tackle Nightwing's adventures in Chicago, as he continues to try and track down Tony Zucco even as a more dangerous foe is left behind. Of course, it's a decision that quickly comes back to haunt our hero.
Higgins has brought a slow burn in the first few Chicago issues of "Nightwing," but patience should now be paying off for readers. The first appearances of the Prankster have now built up to something more interesting, with an abandoned foe coming back to terrorize the entire city. It fits in with Nightwing's single-minded pursuit of Tony Zucco, and also appears to be setting up a reason for Nightwing to stick around in Chicago for a longer time period than he first envisioned. It's been a good pacing for the series as a whole, and Higgins has played out those plot points in just the right manner.
I'm also enjoying the slow doling out of the scenes with Zucco himself. This issue in particular is starting to show a different side to the character; a man devoted to his new wife and kids. Does that automatically make him a good person instead of merely someone who killed Nightwing's family? Of course not. But it does start to cast a bit of gray into a previously black-and-white issue, and also reminds readers that most people aren't just "evil" after all.
Conrad is an artist whom I feel has been getting a little stronger every time I've seen his art. This is easily his best to date, with very clean character drawings and a strong sense of physicality. Nightwing hanging from the ceiling in the Mayor's office looks great, and with Conrad providing the art there's a strong sense of Nightwing's acrobatic background. He leaps and hops around with a real grace, even as Conrad pays just as much attention to conversations in a diner or a father leaning over his children. If Conrad ends up replacing artist Brett Booth at some point down the line, I think "Nightwing" would do just fine.
"Nightwing" #22 feels like this is a series that's on track, and that is using its shift to a new locale well. Higgins and Conrad have given us a fun comic that works well both individually as well as part of a greater whole. Ultimately, this is how a monthly series should work.