“Nightwing and the Huntress in…”

When I saw that, I giggled.   Not even joking.  It’s fun little touches like that that show the writers and artists are having just as much fun creating a book as you are reading it.  While Nightwing is decidedly and firmly set in the superhero genre, there’s no reason it can’t play in other sandboxes.  After all, Grayson was a superhero spy adventure, so why can’t Dick’s masked alter ego engage in some espionage?

Seeley juggles quite a few balls in this issue, and while it never gets away from him there’s still a whole lot of story in so few pages.  There’s the main plot where Dick and Helena fight agents of Spyral, Shawn and Pigeon’s rekindled relationship, Mouse’s increasingly poor decisions, and a brief rundown of what’s been going on back at spy school.  It’s never so much that it’s overwhelming, but there isn’t a lot of time spent in one area before going somewhere different.

While Seeley’s storytelling skills shouldn’t be played down, a lot of this issue’s success comes from his chemistry with artist Javier Fernandez. After a year on the title, the duo know how to play off each other really well.  They’re a terrific match, and an understated one at that.

Coming off the big cliffhanger of the previous issue, Dick and Helena engage in a battle with agents of Spyral that spans the back alleys of Palermo.  They’re as shocked as we are that the group has broken bad, to the point that Dick feels there’s something else going on.  Tiger doesn’t seem like himself, for one.  I won’t spoil it for you, but remember when Seeley said that Tiger calling Dick an idiot was a plot point?  Well, he wasn’t kidding.

Not everyone associated with the organization is after the duo, though.  At least, not for malicious reasons.

Yes, Helena’s beloved former students come through in the clutch to rescue Jim and Juan.

…and Helena and… Dick too, I guess.

The setup for that scene was kind of confusing at first, with a volley of darts coming out of nowhere and Ariana Grande music playing in the background.  When it came together, though, it gave me a pretty big laugh.  I liked those kids in Grayson, and it’s good seeing them back again.

Turns out that, surprise surprise, all is not right back at St. Hadrian’s.  Remember how I said Seeley and Fernandez’s chemistry was understated?  Yeah, I kind of lied.

I love layouts like that.  It harkens back to the best of Mikel Jańin on Grayson, which isn’t too shabby of a compliment.  Each panel is so packed with action and detail that they tell an entire story on their own.  Chris Sotomayor, another contender for MVP, uses his palette wisely to differentiate each scene from one another, and that sunset is just a gorgeous bonus.  Dig the subtle callback to the Spyder web motif as well.

Besides the two-fisted adventure of the main plot, there are also some insights into the supporting cast’s lives.  Everything is really compelling and very well written, it’s just a little tonally dissonant.  Seeing Shawn try to make sense of her decision to reunite with Pigeon, only to rest it almost immediately, is moving stuff.  Same goes for Mouse’s rash decisions that are fueled by rage more than anything.  Either one of those threads would be enough to write an entire issue around, and even in passing the scenes are great.  The payoff will be worth it, no doubt, but the pacing falls just short.

Still, “too much good story” isn’t a bad problem to have.  This feels like one of those issues that will reader better with the rest of the story.  The pieces to make something great are there, it just never becomes a unified whole.

Recommended if:

  • You like a side of espionage with your capes-and-tights adventures.
  • You love it when Tiger calls Dick an idiot.
  • You’ve been curious as to what’s going on back at St. Hadrian’s.

Overall: Another solid entry for sure, there’s a lot of great story going on in Nightwing.  Each individual thread stands on its own as some compelling drama, but it never quite comes together to be truly satisfying.  Still, the writing is superb, the visuals are stellar, and the synergy between the two makes for one of the best teams in comics right now.

SCORE: 7/10