Nightwing #30 review

Well, we’re reaching the end of the road.  In just a few short months, Tim Seeley will no longer be writing Dick Grayson.  Beginning with December’s 35th issue, current Green Lanterns writer Sam Humphries will take over the title, while Seeley will be the new writer on Green Lanterns.  A nice old switcheroo.

It feels weird, because Seeley has been writing Dick for so long.  Save for a few months last year when Grayson was wrapping up, he’s written the character pretty consistently for over three years now.  And while I didn’t cover Grayson from the beginning, it became part of my review slate pretty quickly.  So, yeah, I’ve been covering “Seeley on Grayson” for quite a while.

So for his last hurrah, what does Seeley have planned for us?  Why, the return of one of his most memorable creations: Raptor.

Yes, although Mr. Can-I-Tell-You-About-Suyolak popped up in Deathstroke a few months back, he’s since been released from Spyral’s care (or maybe was before?  The continuity is kind of confusing) and is back in Dick’s life.

It goes about as well as you’d expect.

Actually, I take that back.  It’s… kind of weird.  Raptor sets his sights on a fundraising dinner, aiming to humiliate and take down a pretty scummy politician.  All of this is relatively standard stuff for Raptor’s M.O., but something about it just seems… off.  Seeley touches on some pretty hot button issues like healthcare and effectively buying loyalty, and it’s handled pretty clumsily.  Setting aside any sort of personal beliefs or stake in the matter, some of the dialogue is just clunky.  “I can’t have true justice and take away your cushy government health insurance…” Raptor intones, “but I can make sure you need to use a whole lot of it.”

I get the idea and even appreciate the sentiment to a degree, but the writing is pretty broad in spots and lacks finesse.

There are other points where it’s fantastic, though, with some great one-liners and barbs.

That’s the Seeley I pay to see.

Clunky writing aside, it can’t be said that this isn’t a beautiful piece of visual storytelling.  Miguel Mendonca and Diana Egea are a phenomenal team, with some great figures and clean lines.  Chris Sotomayor is always fantastic, too, and his style complements their line work perfectly.  That dinner party scene is incredibly dynamic and exciting, with some great uses of perspective and interesting layout choices throughout.  Even a fairly routine action beat like a superhero swinging from a chandelier to catch a falling waitress receives a fresh spin under Mendonca’s pencil.

You know, that old trope.

It’s really a shame then that, for this stretch at least, the writing is so on the nose.  There’s a brief scene where the senator is being interviewed on television and he flat-out says he was a target because he’s successful.  That’s so cartoonishly villainous that I still kind of love it, but it’s still just so forced and such an easy target.  Seeley is better than this, and there are times in this very issue he demonstrates that.

This also leads to one of the most unintentionally hilarious page turns in recent memory.  You’ve got Senator Scumbag on the television, just being all sorts of awful, and then…

Sexy make-out time.  That’s just weird pacing.  There isn’t even a gag or joke written in the dialogue to make this stand out.  It cuts the senator off mid-sentence and goes straight to Nightwing and Huntress making out.  Such a strange transition.

Thankfully, it leads to the best scenes of the issue.  First a conversation between Nightwing and Detective Svoboda, where she admits to warming up to his presence while rejecting any more interference, and then a meeting with the Run-Offs.  These scenes work great as building blocks for Dick’s supporting cast.  Even if the intent is pretty much the exact same (Svoboda says she wants his help but can’t have it, whereas the Run-Offs just outright reject his assistance), they’re played from different angles and have some strong character moments.  The broader strokes of the story might not be working just yet, but the finer details are spot-on.

Some seeds are planted that indicate this arc could be going in some pretty interesting and, dare I say, exciting directions.  No spoilers to say that Blockbuster comes into play are some point, as he’s… kind of on the cover.  The idea of teaming up the guy who is traditionally seen as Nightwing’s greatest nemesis with one of the best new rogues he’s seen in years is a pretty great idea, and it’s a team-up of Dick’s own making.  Despite a somewhat rough start, I have faith that Seeley’s run on the title will go out on a high note, and it will look absolutely stunning just the same.

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been waiting for Raptor’s proper return.
  • You just like Nightwing.

Overall: Tim Seeley’s final arc on the title kicks off with an issue that has some good ideas and some sloppy execution.  From the beginning, Seeley has been great at making Nightwing’s world feel big and alive, and that’s still the case here: from new layers to his relationship with Detective Svoboda and increased tension with the Run-Offs, Blüdhaven has felt just as organic as it was back in Dick’s previous series.  The finer details are still relatively spot-on, but the main narrative has some room to grow.  While some absolutely gorgeous visuals from Miguel Mendonca, Diana Egea and Chris Sotomayor do quite a bit of the heavy-lifting, the story itself needs to come together to wow us.

SCORE: 6.5/10