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The long night of the monster men is over, and Nightwing is back in fine form.

I won’t trash that event, even though I felt it lacking on almost all levels, and I am glad that Tim Seeley doesn’t outright brush it aside as if it never happened.  The references to it, though small and almost throwaway in nature, at least acknowledge how weird it must have been to fight a bunch of giant monsters and jump blindly into a gaping maw on nothing more than a hunch.  You know, just Nightwinging it.

From the opening page, the energy for this issue is constant, with almost non-stop momentum and very little downtime.  For the most part it works, reminding us how great this book is when it has focus.

And Tiger.  Lots and lots of Tiger.

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TONY!

If I had one major complaint about the previous arc, it’s that it wrapped up a little too swiftly.  Dick got his wings back, a compelling new character was introduced, and they had a mission that could have been milked for at least another month or so: take down the Parliament of Owls.  As someone who was kind of tired of the whole Owl organization to begin with, I enjoyed what Seeley was going for, but it just kind of… ended.  Sure, seeing Tony Tiger again was great, and leaving the fate of the remaining cells of Owls in the hands of Spyral was a pretty logical move, I just wish we could have seen a few of the raids that were conducted.

But what’s this?

Yes, that’s precisely how this issue opens: Nightwing meets up with his former partner in Australia to bring in a small group of Parliament members.  It’s a scene brimming with great dialogue and chemistry between Dick and Tiger, along with the revelation that Kobra has somehow gotten involved.

Side-note: I don’t know if I just haven’t been paying attention to solicits enough, but the Kobra Cult has been popping up in just a few too many places these days to be a coincidence.  They’re factored pretty heavily in this book, of course, and a dead Kobra soldier’s body was on a rooftop in Batman #1, along with some heavies interrogating Deadshot at the end of Suicide Squad #1.  Maybe it’s coincidental, I don’t know.

Or… koinkident yeah that’s nothing never mind.

Anyway, before Dick and Tiger can bring the Parliament members in, the Owls are attacked by a sleeper agent from Kobra.  This results in an almost hilariously short fight before they stumble upon the outright bloodbath contained in the apartment.  It turns out that the disks that Dick handed over to Spyral were coded to transmit a second signal, so any time Spyral translated Dr. Leviticus’ information it was also sent to Kobra.

Realizing he’s been had, Dick flees to Turkey so he can confront Raptor.  Here we see a Dick Grayson we don’t get to see that often.  He’s usually optimistic, willing to give people the benefit of the doubt even when it comes back to bite him later.  Even when he’s taken advantage of or is just generally in the pits in his life, Dick can usually be counted on to crack a joke and look on the bright side of his circumstances.

But not this Dick Grayson.

This Dick Grayson is angry.

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Justifiably so, too, what with Dick choosing to trust Raptor so he can chart his own path and do it “his own way.”  It’s a bitter pill for anyone to swallow, having to admit that you made the wrong choice, and when it puts your family in danger the guilt can outright destroy someone.  Thankfully, Nightwing has a strong moral core, and the support of at least one 13-year-old ninja with his own giant bat-bear-creature.

Raptor continues to be a genuinely fascinating character, utterly despicable yet disturbingly likeable.  Seeley’s been great about feeding just little bits of his past and personality here and there, mirroring the “long game” that Raptor himself promotes so heavily.  More of his background is revealed here, shedding light on a connection with Dick’s family and an unhealthy stalking obsession he’s engaged in for years.  Raptor is older than he seems, better connected than he seems, and much more sinister than he seems.

His songwriting skills rival Dick’s, though, so there’s that.

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I’ve been a fan of Javier Fernández’s pencils from the beginning of the series, but man if this isn’t the best work he’s put in so far.  His lines are clean, and some of the facial expressions he uses are just stellar.  Look at the above picture of Nightwing just screaming and tell me you don’t feel his rage.  It’s a great looking issue, with wonderful colors once more from Chris Sotomayor, and even the lettering of Carlos M. Mangual really catches the eye.  I’ve been paying attention to lettering and letterers since our own Mr. Warshaw conducted an interview with Taylor Esposito, given that it’s an underappreciated-but necessary component of comics enjoyment, and Mangual’s work is simple and effective.  Most of the sound effects are unobtrusive, allowing for the really big onomatopoeiae to stand out even more, and his captions are nice, clean, and easy to read.

This is a fine return to form, and the start of some great things to come.  With more Raptor, a team-up with Superman, and Dick finally returning to Blüdhaven coming in the next few months, it’s a great time to be a Nightwing reader.

Recommended if:

  • You love Nightwing.
  • You want to find out more about Raptor.

Overall: Solid fun from beginning to end.  With snappy dialogue, great visuals, and phenomenal character work, Nightwing continues to be a grand swashbuckler of a superhero book.  The main criticism I have is that this feels less like the start of a new arc and more like the interrupted epilogue of the previous story.  Regardless, it’s a great read, further proof that Nightwing is one of the most solid books DC is publishing today.

SCORE: 8/10