First, I have something to say to get it out of my system.
Dick talks too damn much. I know it's a diversion, but my goodness! In my head, he sounds just like he does in Under the Red Hood
(as voiced by Neil Patrick Harris), and it’s just nonstop, aggravating chatter in my head. It’s somewhat funny in a way that I say that, though. I remember thinking the exact same thing about him during the Batman R.I.P. story. On the next couple of pages in that comic, Dick says that he knows he talks too much while fighting, but that he thought he did it because Batman talks so little.
Just like in that story, everyone points out that Dick talks too much in this, too. Maybe that's a running gag with him. I don't read much Nightwing except in the event of crossovers. I can see why a villain would get easily annoyed with Dick. If I were a villain, I'd promise to go to jail without a fight if he'd just shut the #$^& up! End rant. Phew, I feel so much better, and I am so sorry you had to witness that tantrum. Now, let's get on with it, yes?
Traps and Trapezes runs concurrent to the events in Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls. Nightwing has his own Owls related run-in, but in a very different way. Haly’s Circus returns to Gotham for the first time in years, prompting Dick to visit his old friends, even though the thought of visiting in Gotham (he’d visited them other cities) stirs up more painful memories than usual. After spending time with his old family, Dick has an encounter with a Talon-like assassin who claims that he (Dick) is Gotham’s deadliest murderer. This sets up a chain of events that leads to the secrets of the circus becoming known.
Dick’s blabbering aside, I think this is the first Nightwing book I’ve truly enjoyed. Not that the few other Nightwing books I read were bad, but I could never really get into his story before now. Dick doesn’t seem to have changed much from the old books. He’s still upbeat, a bit of a lady’s man, and willing to take a more optimistic view to the hero business than Bruce, but when he’s pressed, he takes on an almost Batman-like seriousness. Just as I mentioned in my review of The Court of Owls, I like that Dick's perspective on helping the city involves him living and breathing among the people of Gotham rather than holed away in the mansion or some plush penthouse. He believes in being among the people you protect. (Okay, and it's partly because he finds living in the heart of things exciting.)
After inheriting the circus from Mr. Haly, Dick travels the country with them hoping to find out who the assassin is and what he wants. What he finds is emotionally harrowing for him. But while Bruce’s run-in with the Owls makes him hyper-vigilant and almost distrustful of the city and his friends (which leads to an ugly confrontation with Dick), Dick’s encounter reaffirms the fact that you can choose your own destiny and break cycles. Bruce chose to live stubbornly with his arrogance that Gotham was his loyal bride, but Dick was willing to change with the situation and accept there are things going on that are beyond him.
I thought Higgins did an excellent job of fleshing out Dick's backstory more and entwining it with the Owls. It made the character feel fresh for me since I wasn’t well versed with his time as Nightwing before the reboot. During the course of this story, Dick finds out what his future could’ve been if Bruce hadn’t become part of his life. Dick’s parents’death and his eventual departure with Bruce had far-reaching implications that affected the lives of people who called him family at one time.
I think I enjoyed this more than Batman's book because it was something fresh where Batman's book felt like a familiar story being retold. Dick's side of things offered a different look at the events unfolding with the Owls.