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Let me tell you about the new best villain ever, the Pigeon.

The Pigeon and her sidekick Defacer were once apprehended by Batman and Robin.  Their crime?  The self-described “art terrorists” would steal famous statues and landmarks and deface them with graffiti.

Yes, the Pigeon ruins statues.

Just… let it sink in.

It’s a silly, throwaway idea, but that’s ok.  Not every villain needs to be the Joker or Lex Luthor, nor do they need to try and murder countless people or take over the world.  Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Others just want to draw smiley faces and mustaches on the Statue of Liberty.  You know, just pick your gimmick and stick with it, that’s all I’m saying.

The best thing about the Pigeon isn’t her silliness, though.  No, the best thing about her is the fact that she originated in a Hostess Cupcake ad.

Spoiler

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Pretty progressive for a snack treat ad from the 1970s, if you ask me.

No joke: I actually mentioned how great it was to Tim Seeley and he confirmed it, ad and everything.  Bonus points to him for having her use the word “sheeple”, proving that she is the most diabolical villain of all time.

Really, though, how perfect an example is that of what Seeley and To are doing with these characters?  Taking an all but forgotten joke character and updating her to serve in a modern plot.  Sure, the Pigeon is pretty goofy, but pairing her with Defacer allows for her former sidekick to start on the road to redemption.

After all, the return to Blüdhaven has been a journey of self-discovery for Dick.  It’s a place he’s gone to find himself, and even make himself a new man.  The city itself has even been redeemed, going from the grimy sister city of Gotham to an earnest metropolis desperate for a new reputation.

That’s why Seeley’s idea of a support group for former criminals is so great, and on multiple levels too.  To begin with, it takes the idea that even the worst of villains can be redeemed and reformed in an interesting new direction, and Dick’s optimism and apprehension allows for some interesting drama.  He wants to believe the best and give the benefit of the doubt, but when all evidence points to one of the members being guilty of a crime, what should he think?

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Unrelated: “Catwoman syndrome” will now sit alongside the likes of”Nightwinging it” in fantastic Seeley colloquialisms.

Frankly, I love that idea.  Familiar faces and iconic villains are always a pleasure to read about, but it’s the cast-offs, the oddities, the forgotten characters that can allow for some truly inspired storytelling.  You hear the names Giz and Mouse, Stallion, and Thrill Devil and at best you’re thinking “I… kind of remember them?  Sort of?”  Stallion was memorable enough from his tenure as muscle back in Chuck Dixon’s run on Nightwing, but until I read the recently collected Nightwing: The Hunt for Oracle a few weeks back, I’d completely forgotten the other three even existed.  Kudos to Seeley and To for resurrecting them, though, giving them a new life in comics and not going the obvious route when choosing antagonists for this arc.

The pace that Seeley has set is just about perfect: it’s deliberate without being outright slow, taking enough time for a mystery to develop and for character beats to land.  As such, there isn’t an awful lot of action, but man can Marcus To draw.  His Nightwing may be the best Dick has looked in costume in a long time, with an appropriately athletic build that doesn’t make him seem too tall.  Blüdhaven is looking better and better the more we see of it as well, with different areas and locales that make it feel like an actual city.  It’s not just all skyscrapers and back alleys; this Blüdhaven has docks, warehouses, side streets, residential areas, and more.  Pair that with the light touch of Chris Sotomayor’s colors and this book just looks gorgeous.  The lighting effects alone are stunning, and everything has a simple look that still manages to pop off the page.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but I’d still go so far as to say that if To and Sotomayor keep this up, Blüdhaven might be the best looking city in comics before long.

Insert joke about having Dick’s face being plastered all over town helping it be the “best looking.”

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I set myself up for that one.  Whoops.

My main complaint with this issue is that I’m still not quite sold on Dick needing to “find himself”.  He’s still acting appropriately like himself, which is kind of the problem: besides being bored for a few panels, this is still the relatively confident and caring Dick Grayson that we’re familiar with.  It may just be that the idea of the “supervillain support group” was so strong that Dick’s personal life has taken a backseat, and this is also just the second issue that Dick has been in the ‘Haven.  Given time it will probably click more, but right now it isn’t quite there for me.

Regardless, this is a strong issue.  I love the idea of redemption that’s running through the whole arc, both in the literal sense of Dick and the villains needing a fresh start, and in the metaphorical sense of taking forgotten ideas and maligned characters and giving them a new life in the funny pages.  With a final page stinger that promises more excitement to come, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Nightwing in Blüdhaven.

Recommended if:

  • You like Nightwing.
  • You like seeing old villains and forgotten concepts get a fresh spin.
  • You love Marcus To’s art, because man, you really should.
  • Now let’s all go and enjoy a delicious Hostess brand cupcake.

Overall: Nightwing continues to be the most consistently excellent Bat-book on the stands, I’d gather.  There’s yet to be a true stinker yet, even going back to the crossover a few months ago, and Seeley and crew keep hurdling the already high bar they’ve set for themselves.  With a brilliant concept in reforming forgotten villains and the built-in appeal of Nightwing himself, the return to Blüdhaven is already paying great dividends.  Even if I wish there was maybe a tad more attention paid to Dick in his own book, the strength of the product as a whole more than makes up for what few shortcomings there are.

SCORE: 8/10