Nightwing's future at DC Comics may very well be tangled up in the ongoing "Forever Evil" crossover, but in the meantime, fans of the characters would do well to keep an eye on the character's own title. "Nightwing" #27 wraps up a two-part story that has no connection to the comic, and Kyle Higgins, Will Conrad and Cliff Richards remind readers why it's a good thing to have a "Nightwing" ongoing series.
One of the things that makes "Nightwing" #27 stand out from a lot of its brethren is the overall sense of joy that Higgins brings to the page. Life isn't necessarily easy as Nightwing, but he still finds the entertainment in his life. When Nightwing and Marionette team up to stop the Mad Hatter after his appearance at the end of the previous issue, it's more than just wisecracks that make it work. There's a lightness, an eagerness in the way that Higgins writes Nightwing when he's in the thick of it all. For a character who grew up in the spotlight as a circus acrobat, it's a depiction that works, too; he's a natural performer, and his role as Nightwing feels like an extension of that.
What's nice is that in many ways, Higgins treats Nightwing as a character where it's the superhero persona that has everything working, and Dick Grayson as the one who's perpetually struggling. He's a character who has been center stage for so long that he doesn't know how to deal with regular people. His problems with his current roommate are a great example of that; he can pick up all the little details about Marionette's problems, but it takes a discussion about being possessed by the Mad Hatter for him to finally understand what's been going on right under his nose.
Speaking of Marionette, I like the character here. Her motives are never 100% clear, but in a deliberate manner; what she offers up as explanation is an offshoot of the unreliable narrator, although in this case it's more of an unreliable witness. She's intriguing and for a genre that often struggles to introduce new villains, she's one worth pursuing further. She straddles the good/bad line quite well, and I feel like Higgins has imbued her with a lot of additional story potential.
Conrad provides most of the art for this issue, and I hope he sticks around on "Nightwing" with Higgins for a while. A lot of the energy in Higgins's script comes to life that much more with Conrad drawing it. He's definitely from the same school as artists like Greg Land with a soft, gentle form for his figures; unlike Land, though, the art here never feels posed or stiff. It's incredibly energetic, something that's needed for a comic starring a former acrobat. Richard subs in for a handful of pages, and while his art isn't too far off of Higgins, there's something a little flat about some of the panels. (And the less said about Dick Grayson's face under Richards, which looks like it's been pressed up to a glass jar, the better.) But for every time something doesn't work with Richards, there's another instance where it all comes together quite well. He's a variable artist, but I appreciate when everything snaps into place.
"Nightwing" #27 is another entertaining comic in this series; starring a character who seems to have skirted death and/or cancellation, it's a title that I feel you shouldn't take for granted. Hopefully Higgins and Conrad will continue to get to create "Nightwing" comics for the foreseeable future; issues like this remind us in the potential of the character thanks to the sheer enjoyment that he exudes. We could use more characters like Nightwing.