November 29's Nightwing 2022 Annual by writer Tom Taylor and artists Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira promises to reveal who's under the platinum mask of the new villain Heartless, a Bludhaven serial killer who cuts the hearts out of his victims among the homeless, and who says Dick Grayson was his "first" and made him who he is.
The character first appeared in 2021's Nightwing #79 but may have actually first appeared the prior month in Nightwing #78.(opens in new tab)
In the preview pages of Nightwing 2022 Annual, we meet Shelton Lyle, a non-communicative pre-adolescent who may or may not have been traumatized by witnessing the death of Dick Grayson's parents at the circus, and is found cutting the heart out of a rat and about to do the same to the family cat.
In something of a parallel to Bruce Wayne, the scene begins with the arrival of a new character, Gerald Chamberlain, who has come at the home of the wealthy Lyles to become their butler, seemingly to help raise the troubled Shelton.
Shelton Lyle first appeared last year a month before Heartless in a flashback story in which he's a bully picking on a middle school child, and a young Dick and Barbara Gordon both intervene, with Dick knocking Shelton's front two teeth in after dodging a swing by Shelton.
Add that all together and it seems like things are set up for Shelton to be revealed as Heartless, but since this is comic books you can't jump to conclusions, and the mysterious Gerald Chamberlain needs to be kept an eye on as well.
Check out the preview pages below for the full albeit partial story...
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