Imagine if you will a story told in two parts. One deals with some domestic issues among a few supporting characters, a largely dialogue-driven affair that takes place within the office of a community center. The writing is engrossing, thanks in no small part due to the fact that you care about these people. We don’t know them nearly as well as the title character, and most likely never will, but that doesn’t matter. They feel like real people struggling with real issues. It’s enough pathos and drama to carry a book on its own, to tell you the truth.
The other part of the story is pure, unadulterated action. Told largely in double-page spreads with scarcely a moment to breathe, this side of the story is a real cracking adventure. While it isn’t quite as deep as the more character-driven portion, it still carries a fair amount of weight. It also has a fair amount of great dialogue, taking advantage of the charm and likability of the main character.
That’s Nightwing #24 in a nutshell. Save for a few pages early on this is almost completely wall-to-wall action, but every element works the way it needs to. There is hardly any fat to the narrative at all, with Seeley’s script serving as a case study in economical storytelling.
The fact that the brief scene between Shawn and Mouse is so memorable is a testament to Seeley’s skill. It’s very brief and mostly consists of the girls airing grievances and frustrations, right up until Pigeon shows up. Back when these two were introduced I thought the idea was hysterical (she’s called “the Pigeon” and vandalizes statues) but, as the months have passed, we’ve gotten to know Shawn more. That makes seeing her fall off the wagon hit that much harder, as we want to see her move on from her previous life. Sure, Pigeon is on parole and may just be stopping by to lend her protege a shoulder to cry on, but… what if she doesn’t? What if they both fall back into crime?
Two pages of material that amounts to some of the best character work seen in this book so far.
The main draw, though, is Dick’s attempts to escape the luxury submarine-yacht he’s trapped on. And guys… oh my gosh, is this book so much fun.
It’s kind of like Die Hard or, maybe even more apt, The Raid: hero is trapped in an enclosed structure and has to fight his way out. Such a simple formula that is pretty hard to screw up. If you can’t tell, they don’t screw it up here.
Instead of trying to evoke the claustrophobic quarters of the vessel, Miguel Mendonca instead uses widescreen double-page spreads to track Dick’s progress. It’s a wise move, too: I’ve called this book “cinematic” before and it really feels that way here. “Nightwing fighting through a horde of bad guys” is already something that would translate well to the big screen, and Mendonca’s creative visual style could easily serve as a storyboard for a movie’s action scene. His layout choices are incredibly creative, and there’s always a sense of movement as Dick goes from one foe to another.
There’s tons of personality to his illustrations, too, particularly in his facial expressions and body language. You can just feel Dick sigh and resign himself to something he has no interest in doing (or energy to do). It’s incredibly expressive work, supported by the reliable Christ Sotomayor’s wonderful colors.
So, yeah, this is mostly just one long fight scene. I am one hundred percent behind that, simply because it’s written so well. There are some genuinely funny one-liners and little character beats, and the choice of villains is particularly inspired. They’re all D-list at best, so nobody brings any baggage to the scuffle. You’ve got new guys like Kid Amazo and Snakepit, the latter of whom first showed up in New Super-Man, older nobodies like Skyhook, and at least three or four guys that I had to Google to see if they were made up or not (Crash, anyone?) The biggest names are Shado, Magog, and Clock King, and even then they aren’t exactly A-list. That’s part of what makes this issue so fun, though: it’s just Nightwing fighting a bunch of bad guys, using his prowess and skill to overcome their various gimmicks.
This arc has been great so far, and this is certainly the strongest installment. The cliffhanger it ends on is about the only thing it has going against it, and even then it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of such a strong issue. While this is one part of a greater whole, it’s a great part of what’s shaping up to be a great whole. If this keeps up, “Blockbuster” may very well be the best Nightwing arc yet, and may even be the best Batfamily story of the year.
- You like great, pulse-pounding action.
- You also like strong supporting characters who get their own chance to shine.
- Seriously guys: it’s Nightwing fighting a bunch of supervillains on an old ship. Some things just write themselves they’re so awesome.
Overall: Grand and gripping entertainment, from beginning to end. This is action storytelling at its finest, with an extended fight scene that is one of the best in ages. Not content with “just” being an adrenaline-pumping good time, though, there’s also plenty of heart to be had here. Seeley’s walking the fine line perfectly, building his world and making you feel for the characters while also making you want to do a bunch of push-ups because it’s so exciting. Nightwing is great, is what I’m getting at.