You don’t need a ton of action or a breakneck pace to have an engaging comic. With great teamwork between the writer and artistic team, even a story without an awful lot going on can be thoroughly engrossing.
Such is the case with Nightwing #10, a pretty solid little story made even better by the confident work of the creative team.
The word “reboot” is thrown around way too much and gets overused, particularly when it doesn’t apply. Some people may see Dick’s return to Blüdhaven as a sort of reboot, but it really isn’t. Sure, the status quo is changing and some new story opportunities are opening up, but nothing about Dick’s character or circumstances are being revised. If anything, this is a “reshuffling” of Dick’s life, yet even then this is just a natural progression for the character. What Seeley did in the “Better Than Batman” arc leads directly into this week’s events, and it all feels earned and organic.
With arc-based storytelling, character growth can often get lost in the shuffle. Seeley doesn’t lose sight of what has made his run so successful, though, focusing just as much on Dick as a character as he does on the bigger picture. The personal, intimate details don’t take a backseat to the broader story beats; instead, the story refreshingly serves the character. Even in introducing a new take on an old city, Seeley makes everything work by keeping the focus on Dick and how the changes and circumstances affect him. With the big changes in his life recently, it’s only expected that Dick would need a reset, if for no other reason than to build his own life back up again. After all, the Nightwing identity is all about rebirth, taking everything that came before and coming out stronger.
I love that Seeley, To, and Sotomayor take the time to let Dick be bored. He doesn’t just show up in the ‘haven ready to go out and fight crime. No, he volunteers at a community center, meets some people who totally aren’t going to be bad guys, then vegges out around his apartment. Did you know that Dick enjoys Robin Hood: Rebirth comics and that Warlord is an in-universe TV show? You do now, friend.
We get to discover this new city along with Dick, with a slower pace that works in its favor. One of my favorite aspects of Chuck Dixon’s run on Nightwing back in the Nineties was that Dick had hobbies. He was all business at night, solving mysteries and knocking heads, but he also had a personal life. He tended bar, became a cop, and hung out with his neighbors. Seeley looks to be planting similar seeds here, giving us a look at Dick Grayson as just a guy, something we haven’t seen in quite some time. He lets those slow moments breathe, which makes the action and excitement even better. That way, when Nightwing finally appears in costume it’s as exhilarating as it should be. The splash reveal of Dick swinging over rooftops? Absolutely stunning. I kind of cheered, no lie.
Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that Seeley was effectively going to build Blüdhaven from the ground up. I mean, I’m not asking them to just copy and paste everything from the run in the Nineties (or am I…?), but hearing someone refer to a “Detective Soames” or seeing a sign for Hogan’s Alley would have been great. This is just the introduction, sure, so there’s always time to meet his new neighbors Aaron Helzinger and John Law, but a recognizable nod or two would have been a nice touch.
Even so, this is a new Blüdhaven, a new city for Dick to call home. This issue is mostly world-building, serving as an introduction to this new version of a familiar city. We get a decent feel for the location, meet a few new characters, and see hints of a greater threat to come.
Save for the opening page which finds Robin (hilariously) testing various rallying cries while Batman and Batgirl listen on, everything takes place in Blüdhaven. And boy oh boy, were Seeley and To serious when they described just how gaudy and neon this version of the city is.
No longer the dirtier, grimier sister city of Gotham, this Blüdhaven is all billboards, neon lights, and tourist attractions. There’s even a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek slogan that shows just how desperate the city’s residents are to attract visitors: “A Scary Name for a Great Place to Visit.” The distinctive look gives the city a personality and character all its own, and To and Sotomayor’s work is just gorgeous. With clean lines, great detail, and wonderful colors, the city itself feels alive, like a place that you’d believe is both a whaling port and an aspiring tourist trap. There’s a facade of life and fun, with a sinister undercurrent running beneath the surface.
For a city that’s been dead for over a decade, Blüdhaven has some exciting new life. If Seeley wants to make Dick his own man again, he’s certainly off to a great start.
And that’s not even mentioning the gorilla. Enjoy!
- You’ve been waiting for Dick to return to his old stomping grounds.
- You want a well told, solidly structured issue.
Overall: I like where this is going. Tim Seeley has had a pretty deft hand with Nightwing already, and this just further proves he knows how to write the character. There are enough new elements that it feels fresh, yet the story never comes off like an info dump. This is a logical progression from what came before, building on the previous arcs and series to help shape Dick into a hero all his own. I loved the pacing, the writing, the art, the colors, pretty much everything about this issue. Forget visiting; while it may have a scary name, Blüdhaven is shaping up to be a pretty nice place to stay.