Alright, let’s talk about the very best thing on that cover. You know what it is without me having to even say anything. It’s not that dynamic shot of Nightwing kicking Blockbuster in the face. It’s not that couple in the background, one of whom is taking a picture with an awful bright flash. It’s not the grimy back alley and the iron staircases that just scream “urban life.”
No, it’s that dog. I bet he’s a good boy.
Sadly, doggie there doesn’t make an appearance in the issue itself. Yet another case of comic covers making promises they can’t keep.
Enough of that. Tim Seeley is back after a few weeks off, and his return heralds the resurgence of one of Dick’s most notorious foes: Blockbuster. Kind of like the Kingpin to Nightwing’s Daredevil, dear old Roland Desmond set out to ruin Nightwing’s life once the former Boy Wonder moved to Blüdhaven. Desmond was a bit like Bane, in that he was both cunning and intelligent while also possessing superhuman strength. So, he was formidable as both a physical and mental threat.
Blockbuster was… kind of derivative, now that I think of it. Crime lord like Kingpin, hulking brute with brains like Bane. Huh. Never realized that.
Either way, Chuck Dixon certainly squeezed some great stories out of the conflict between Nightwing and Blockbuster back in the day, so it’s nice to see him back. Even more so considering he was unceremoniously killed a over a decade ago in an act that would lead to one of the worst things to ever involve Dick Grayson in his history. If you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you’re better off, believe me.
True to form, Seeley is letting this story breathe. We’re not just dumped into the middle of a city where Desmond is already in control. Blockbuster doesn’t just quickly rise through the ranks or even get immediately introduced as the Boss of Blüdhaven. No, that title belongs to Tiger Shark, who is making his mark on the city. To do so, he enlists the aid of Desmond to be some hired muscle at a casino, starting at the bottom to no doubt work his way to the top of the list of Nightwing’s foes. It’s a journey we’ll be going on, and Seeley lays some fertile ground here.
Besides the titular Blockbuster, Seeley also takes some time to focus on Dick’s personal life. That’s one of the things I’ve been loving about this run: even if I don’t always like some of the choices made, I really enjoy Dick getting to have a life outside of the mask. There’s even a scene with Shawn where he tries to back out of getting a job to be Nightwing full-time, but she’s not having any of it. He needs to be Dick Grayson just as much as he needs to be Nightwing, and as she says, he needs “something that keeps you… you.”
Even if I wasn’t in love with their romance, I’m glad that it isn’t being completely discarded. If this is part of Seeley’s long game with these characters then I’d rather see things evolve organically rather than being thrown out at the end of each arc. Their relationship helps to keep Dick grounded, too, along with the growing supporting cast of former Run-Offs. It’s great seeing old villains cast in a new light, with guys like Stallion and Giz reforming and becoming friends with Dick. It reinforces the idea of rehabilitation, a belief of Batman’s that doesn’t get an awful lot of credit, and allows for some interesting dynamics and interactions. My favorite scene in this issue is one where Dick, Stallion, and Giz just sit at a bar and chat about life. It’s a nice, quiet moment of three dudes talking. It may move the plot forward, but it still took the time to be about the characters rather than the exposition.
In that regard, this issue is almost structured like an episode of a serialized television show. Rather than dump the main conflict at the beginning or using cheap storytelling tricks, Seeley writes a narrative where each scene builds upon each other. We may not see how each scene effects the overall story just yet, and there’s certainly an “end of the episode” cliffhanger, but it really feels like there’s a deliberate flow to the narrative. Even if we may not quite know the point yet, each scene still feels like it has a point.
Miguel Mendonca takes over penciling duties from Javier Fernandez and turns in some pretty great work. The opening fight is visually stunning with some vertiginous shots of Nightwing flying over the heads of the gang members. Much like Seeley’s script, some of the panel and layout choices made look as if they could be scenes in a movie or TV show. Even the smaller moments are packed with detail, thanks in no small part to the ever-reliable Chris Sotomayor’s gorgeous colors.
Plus, you know, there are sharks.
If we can’t have that dog, then sharks are a good silver medal.
- You love Nightwing.
- You like your stories to be deliberately paced and take time to breathe.
- You like seeing old villains return to the spotlight.
Overall: Another solid entry in the saga that is Nightwing. This is just as much Blockbuster’s story as it is Nightwing’s, so it’s nice to see the deliberate pace and almost cinematic nature of the script. Coupled with some excellent art, energetic action scenes, and engaging character interactions, “Blockbuster” looks to be the start of another excellent chapter in the life of Nightwing.