OK, so, Dick's roommate isn't Prankster. Instead, he's a kid looking for revenge. But, the cop who might have a vendetta against Nightwing is a former hero and Tony Zucco is a good guy for a minute but becomes a bad guy again. [Sigh.]
First things first, I really don't follow the Prankster story as Higgins has told it. So, the Mayor and his brother convinced the city to build a train line through their old neighborhood. But, why is that a bad thing? Was it some sort of corrupt deal? Did they make a lot of money from it? It's not like they owned the neighborhood, so I'm not sure how they would've benefited from the line going through it. But, whatever, fine, I can use my imagination. But, why did the electrical engineer on the project (Prankster's father) die? Was he murdered? He looks murdered from the way Conrad portrays him, with cuts all over his head. Plus, young Prankster found him in his Halloween costume seemingly outside their house, so it doesn't seem like he died on the job from an accident. Did the Mayor's brother kill him? If not, why did he "take the fall" for the death? All that would make sense, except for the fact that the Mayor claims that it was an accident. If it was, then why would someone have to take the fall? I can't believe that Higgins doesn't answer these questions, given how central that they are to the plot. But, I re-read this issue and they really aren't there.
Moreover, no one guessed who Prankster was, other than Tony Zucco? The Mayor's brother goes to jail for killing young Prankster's father, young Prankster mails him his Halloween mask as a souvenir (a mask that looks identical to the one that he later wears as Prankster), and not a single person beyond Zucco makes that connection? Moreover, Zucco only decides to make that revelation now, when Prankster's imminently going to destroy the South Side? When Prankster first arrived on the scene, Zucco couldn't tell that he'd be gunning for the Mayor at some point?
Plus, I'm not really sure what Prankster's plan was. He releases the Mayor with the switch to disable the bomb that he planted under the train line, but the Mayor has to make it through a gauntlet of his own citizens to get there. What did Prankster want to happen? For the mob to kill the Mayor and then the South Side to be destroyed? Why destroy the South Side if you just wanted revenge against the Mayor? Why not just put him on the street for the mob to kill him? I mean, what happened to Prankster as avenging hero, going after sex traffickers? Isn't blowing up the South Side just for a fun a little bloody for a guy who saw himself as a hero righting wrongs?
I thought that the Prankster story was going to end similarly to the Batman/Wrath one from "Detective Comics," with Prankster being a version of Dick through the glass, darkly. Moreover, unlike Wrath, Prankster seemed to have staying potential as an anti-hero, using his anger at the establishment (represented by men like Mayor Cole) as a way to avenge the common people. It would've been an even more nuanced take than the Batman/Wrath duality, exploring the real fine line between hero and anti-hero (and not the thicker line between hero and villain). But, Higgins unfortunately ditches all subtlety here by making Prankster into a sociopath with revenge as his only goal. Wrath wanted revenge on the entire GCPD, hence the scale of his operations. Prankster wants revenge only against the Mayor, but is willing to kill virtually everyone in Chicago to get it. Again, we're not talking about the guy that I thought that we were going to see, a guy motivated by revenge, but with a larger vision of the world that he wants to see implemented to right that original wrong; we're talking about a homicidal maniac on the same level as Joker, regardless of his motivation.
I also don't know what to say about Tony Zucco suddenly going from killer to family man to killer so quickly. His wife allegedly divorces him and moves her kid somewhere else and he decides to unlearn everything that he's learned since coming to Chicago and become Tony Zucco again? Really? Given that Higgins never really sold me on Zucco-as-family-man, his immediate reversion makes everything that Higgins has done with him feel overly convenient, a plot device to move forward the story that he wanted to tell. Now that Higgins no longer needs him as a family man, he can resume being a bad guy? It might've even been better had Higgins killed of Zucco's wife and kid, since Tony's return to the dark side would be more understandable.
Finally, I'm not really sure what to do with the revelation that Billy's cop mentor is Ghostwalker. Why does he think that Chicago needs to be hero-free? He seems to feel it deeply, so I hope Higgins gets us there at some point. But, to be honest, his appearances have felt so shoe-horned into this series that I really have problems remembering anything about him.
Man, this issue gave us a disappointing conclusion to this arc. It makes me wonder why I'm still getting this series, particularly when the status quo is going to be upended again due to events in "Forever Evil."
* (one of five stars)