The “Death of the Family” crossover continues in Nightwing 15, “Cleaning House.” Jimmy, the ringmaster for Haly’s circus, is killed by the Joker, in part because the posters around town with Jimmy on them make him look a bit like the Joker (more on that later).
Elsewhere, Nightwing and Batgirl run rooftops together, quite polite and cordial, utterly conflicting with the last time we saw them together, after which Dick gets called to the scene of Jimmy’s body, displayed at Dick’s “Amusement Mile,” project, with the sign “Nobody likes a knockoff” around his neck. Between Jimmy’s murder and Joker breaking Dick’s former lover and enemy Raya out of prison, he gets concerned about his employees, and tells them, and pays for them, to get out of the city.
Just when he’s least able to deal with it, Dick’s business partner Sonia kisses him finally. Dick has something of a mixed reaction, remembering that her father killed his parents, but is spared explaining to her when his computer set up sends him a message, sending him off on his next stop. Lured to a deserted aerospace company hanger, Dick fights a Joker-ized Raya, who has been dressed in a mock-Nightwing outfit. She collapses from the toxins after fighting for a while, tells Dick she’s sorry, and dies. He finds a message from the Joker on her body, indicating the clown will be attacking Amusement Mile next, and takes off to stop that.
This issue is part of a major crossover, which I don’t like, I admit. I’m utterly sick of too many crossovers. That to one side, I had other problems with this issue. Of all people, Dick would know better than to let promotional material go up making any of his people look like they were mocking the Joker. That’s just suicide in Gotham, and Dick knows better. That whole part of this rang false to me. Raya very nearly died during the Saiko storyline, and I think it would have been more powerful if she had. Instead, she was spared to die here, yet another victim of the Joker. Also, last we saw Babs and Dick, she was furious that no one seemed to be taking Joker as seriously as she was, and stormed off. Now, they’re all friendly again with no mention of that. I suspect poor writer co-ordination here. Similarly, earlier in the crossover, Nightwing was standing on part of the reservoir system that Joker blew up. Clearly, no one thought Nightwing would die that way, but not even a mention of it anywhere?
I also really don’t care for the Dick/Sonia story. This whole I’m attracted to you but your father killed my parents bit is just seeming too soap opera to me. There have been a few good lines about it, but overall it’s just weird. Dick has had many interesting love interests in the past, some of which may have even survived the reboot. I guess I’m just not seeing the point of Sonia and her complications, especially factoring in her being part of Dick's civilian business enterprise.
I think most titles suffer from being hijacked by crossovers, and I’d say this one is being done no favors. My fondness for Nightwing will see me through this bit of clown chaos, but I admit, I’m hoping they go somewhere good with this book soon. I’ve dropped most of my DC books since the reboot, and the rest, even about my favorite, are hanging by, if not threads, fraying twine.
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