Hey, did you guys see that we were given an exclusive preview of this issue? That was pretty awesome. Exclusives are great, and being able to represent Nightwing was cool too.
Following last issue’s reveal that Tiger isn’t actually behind Spyral’s recent shenanigans, issue 28 opens with a little bit of everything that makes Nightwing great: snappy dialogue, breakneck pacing, and some trippy visuals to boot. The opening scenes bring a level of energy that, despite Seeley’s best efforts, the rest of the issue doesn’t maintain.
That’s due in large part to the fact that the story is rushed to a conclusion. I have a feeling there was another issue’s worth of material in this arc, but it had to be cut short to make way for Metal and the “Gotham Resistance” tie-ins. From a business and publishing standpoint, I get it. From a fan’s perspective, though? It’s frustrating.
That’s due in no small part to the missed opportunities presented in this arc. More interactions between Dick and Helena, Tiger calling Dick an idiot at least seven more times, and some genuinely creepy revelations about Mr. Minos are wrapped up before they can really get off the ground. Sure, Dick and Helena have spent most of the arc together and certainly get the most “screen time” of anybody, but even then their story here is lacking.
What’s there is good, no doubt: they have an easy chemistry with one another and play well off of each other. I’m pretty firmly in the “Dick and Babs” camp, but even I have to admit that Dick and this version of Helena go well together. Seeley builds off their previous relationship to give a somewhat satisfying payoff here, but it works mostly because of what has come before. Granted, that’s true of all character development: it needs a solid foundation and time to grow and become satisfying. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but the ending of “Spyral” here feels more like an attempt to tie up old threads rather than tell a complete story. The status quo is effectively reset at the end, and while I like where everything ends up, it would have been nice if it had a little more time to get there.
But no matter. Review it for what it is and not what it could (or should) have been, right? The real strength of Nightwing #28 is just how weird it gets. Most of that can be attributed to Minos, whose true nature and purpose is finally revealed. Spoilers ahoy.
Minos is not a man. He’s A.I.
A sequence of ones and zeroes, preprogrammed to accomplish the will of another.
The way it plays out, this is a really solid idea. Minos is cold and menacing in his lack of humanity, a proverbial bogeyman who can be in multiple places at once. He’s not terrifying, in the sense of an actual monster or nightmare, but he is unsettling and genuinely creepy. I mean, just look at that panel above. That smile peeking through the Hypnos-masked face? Guh. No thank you.
I enjoyed Minos’ musings on existence, and wish we could have gotten more of that. He raises some points about sentience that, even if I didn’t totally buy or agree with the questions he was asking, I was still intrigued by his asking them. That hint of a technological, existential horror element caught my attention, even if only briefly.
The way Minos is defeated is also worth noting for completely different reasons. Effectively, Dick annoys him to death. While Minos has Dick captive, Dick just keeps prattling on and on with silly banter. It’s kind of annoying, yet endearingly so, resulting in a slightly different kind of climax. Sure, there’s fighting and electrocutions and what have you, but the means of defeating the villain were unique enough that I got a good laugh. It definitely felt like something that would have happened in Grayson, appropriately enough.
Would it have been more effective with more time? Sure. Seeing more of Minos and getting a creeping suspicion that something was off, ending this issue with the reveal that he’s artificial intelligence and then having one more issue to take him down would have flowed better. But again, what’s here works as well as it could.
Contrastly, Shawn’s descent back into villainy is taking its time, and her few scenes here are some of the issue’s best. When Mouse breaks into Blockbuster’s apartment to enact revenge for killing Giz, Shawn stops her before Mouse can do anything rash. It’s a nice scene between the two, though a bit bizarre when Desmond wakes up in full Blockbuster mode. Shawn’s character is in a strange state of flux, torn between a desire to go straight and the allure of her former life of crime. I’ve liked her as a character from the beginning, and I truly feel her heartbreak when she sees something she shouldn’t late in the issue. Much as I love Nightwing, it’s Shawn Tsang’s story I’m finding more engrossing lately.
The ever-reliable Javier Fernandez once again splits artistic duties with Miguel Mendonca. Their styles are somewhat similar, though Fernandez’s is more refined. Mendonca’s faces tend to be a little rough around the edges and some of his proportions are a tad off, but that adds to the psychedelia and strange subject matter with Minos. The action is fine, if nothing to write home about, though there’s a heartbreaking sequence with Shawn that Fernandez nails. In three panels she goes from shock to anger and, finally, defeat. It’s moving work, with Sotomayor’s soft blues and purples evoking her melancholy.
For an issue that ends up feeling like Grayson leftovers, this isn’t too bad. I mean, leftovers can be a good thing if the original course was good, and Grayson sure was great. Sure, I wish Seeley had been given a little more time to complete this arc, but it’s about as good as it could be given the time restraint.
- You read Nightwing.
- You like a decent amount of psychological and technological horror thrown into your comics.
- You like Dick and Helena together.
Overall: Even when Nightwing isn’t inherently great, it’s still entertaining. This issue is a victim of a rushed schedule more than anything, and while it does have its problems, there’s enough good here to keep your attention. While I wish this arc had been allowed to breathe a little more and develop its ideas further, the creative team deserve credit for doing something a little different. There are some interesting themes presented and some genuinely creepy visuals, making this one of the most unique issues of Nightwing to hit the stands in years.