I’ve talked about my issues with the Ric Grayson story arc a few times at this point, I didn’t like it overall as the book stopped being a Nightwing book for all intents and purposes. I did like how they eventually tried to tie it back to being a bigger deal story wise than it had been up to that point but by then the whole thing had gone on too long. The best thing for me about the Joker War storyline was that it basically represented the end of that arc which I think a lot of people were very much ready for.
I was immediately cautiously optimistic when Tom Taylor was announced as writer from issue 78 and that it was going to be a jumping on point, Taylor has done some great work on Injustice and DCeased even if Dick Grayson was killed off early in both of those. When I saw previews of the art from the issue by Bruno Redondo that cautious optimism turned into genuine excitement, it honestly looked amazing from what I’ve
I’ve kept seeing stuff online which just made the wait for the issue to be released, it’s been unbearable at times. I’ve now read it though and I absolutely loved it, it was everything I wanted and then some. With that in mind I thought I’d talk a little about it just because I’ve pretty much re-read it about 4 or 5 times at this point and it’s probably going to get read a few more times. There’s going o be spoilers in here as there’s very specific stuff I want to get into.
It does some interesting work setting up what’s to come, you have Blockbuster killing the mayor of Bludhaven and installing the daughter of Tony Zucco, the man that killed Dick Grayson’s parents, as the new mayor. So there’s a personal connection there straightaway and and while Blockbuster doesn’t get much time he’s established as being a powerful and ruthless presence so you know he’s going be a formidable opponent in the future.
The art work is stunning, Redondo does a great job of making Bludhaven more distinct that Gotham City where it’s been very similar over the years via the use of colour, Bludhaven has been established as a Casino city so the implication I believe is that there’s alot of neon lighting. The art also does a really good job of conveying movement which is particularly useful give Grayson is an acrobat and his fighting style reflects this so it’s great that the artwork does such a great job of showing this.
There’s some nice acknowledging of past Nightwing runs too, the apartment block where he lives is a building he owns from a previous run which hasn’t been seen for a while which is nice. There’s also some light-hearted jabs at the whole Ric Grayson arc when he rescues the 3 legged puppy who looks to be becoming a fixture in the comic going forward which isn’t unwelcome as she’s pretty adorable on the whole.
The comic opens with a flashback to when Dick is a kid, it’s when he first meets Barbara Gordon at school as they defend a fellow student being picked on by a group of bullies. The subsequent follow where he’s taken home by Jim Gordon and starts helping Alfred with chores is really earnest as it establishes Dick as just wanting to help people. It’s such a simple thing to do but it also really separates him from Bruce Wayne as a character as this motivation is just there without the trauma of losing his parents playing a part. It’s such a small thing overall but it works.
This is the first time in ages that I can remember a comic focusing on the bond between Alfred and Dick. It was always great when they were allowed to interact as there was a clearly established affection there and it was always great to see it as Alfred is much more comfortable expressing emotion than most of the people Dick knows so they tended to have a lot of sincere moments. The scene of them talking as Dick helps Alfred with the washing up is one of my favourites though and has me hoping for more flashbacks in future issues.
The interaction with Barbara Gordon is largely great too, there’s a bit where she takes him by surprise that’s a little frustrating as it turns him into the butt of the joke a little which is a little frustrating coming off the most recent arc but it’s a small niggle. What’s nice is that the conversation is relative easy going despite the heavy reason for Barbara being there. A lot of their interactions in recent memory have been argumentative or mean spirited which is legitimately annoying when they’re meant to be as close as they are. I’m incredibly grateful for it not being the case here, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she figures into this run knowing she’s meant to be involved.
Her reason for being there helps tie together another bugbear I’ve had in relation to Alfred having been killed off. That being that there’s been no real payoff with regards to Dick as he was Ric at the time and then he came back during the Joker War arc so there was no real room for this to happen in a way that worked. This rectifies that as Barbara is there as the executor of Alfred’s will, turns out he was loaded and made some great investment choices and left the money to Dick and while this is nice it’s not the truly cathartic part of the comic.
To be honest the whole conversation where Dick and Barbara discuss Alfred and how rich he was and why he continued to basically look after Bruce and everyone else is really sweet. Dick wonders why Alfred would make him sandwiches and do his washing and Barbara’s response is perfect in its simplicity – it’s what he wanted to do. She also passes on a letter that Alfred wrong for Dick, turns out he’d write one every year as a precaution.
The letter Alfred wrote for Dick is genuinely the most emotional things I’ve personally ever read in any comic. It sums up the regard Alfred held Dick in , saying how proud he is, how much he believes in him and his ability to do good and referring to him as his son. It’s incredibly heartfelt and I’ve read these particular pages multiple times now and I get the same kick to the heart (in the best way possible) every single time. The whole issue would be worth it for this alone if everything else wasn’t very good but thankfully everything is largely great.
I’d go so far as to say this is properly my single favourite issue of any comic I’ve ever written, it’s really great to see Dick being written as a distinct character in his own right where it’s seemed like he’s been treated more as an extension of Batman of late which is frustrating. I’m incredibly excited to see where this run goes and I hope Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo stay on creative for as long as humanly possible as they make a fantastic team. I had really high hopes going in and for the first time in a long time those hopes were exceeded, which is a very pleasant surprise.
It’s personally the Nightwing comic I’ve been waiting years for, a talented writer who seems to totally get what makes the character so special, and also the fact that he seems to be able to keep him a bit separate from Batman. It’s been great to see Taylor talk about what he wants to achieve as it’s clear he holds Dick Grayson in the same sort of esteem as I do which isn’t a bad thing. Hopefully Taylor is going to get to tell the stories he wants to tell as if he does then this has the potential to be a truly special run.