Nightwing #31 review

This is the second issue in a row with a pretty misleading cover.  Last issue made it look like Raptor and Blockbuster were going to team up to take out Nightwing, which… didn’t happen.  This one is a little more vague, but it still looks like Orca makes a return which… also doesn’t happen.

Ah well, it’s not the worst offender by a long shot, and this issue is a definite step in the right direction.

Funny enough, playing off last issue’s anticipated teaming up of Raptor and Blockbuster, this week opens with the exact opposite: Dick’s foes are at each other’s throats.  Prepping for a speech he’s supposed to give to a large group of future entrepreneurs, Roland Desmond is ambushed by Raptor.  It’s actually a pretty brutal scene, with Raptor hanging Desmond from a statue while he decries capitalism and what have you, driving Roland to lose control and reveal his darker side as Blockbuster.  It’s a strong opening that picks up some of the loose pieces from the previous issue and makes Raptor’s means and motivation line up a little bit more with what we expect from him.

Really, when Raptor gets away and Desmond composes himself, I actually kind of felt bad for Blockbuster.  He seemed sincere in his desire to motivate kids to apply themselves to intellectual pursuits, and Raptor’s crusade put a damper on that.

After a strong opening, Seeley presents us with a Flash Fact Nightwing… Nugget, I guess?

Never let anyone tell you the funny books can’t be educational, too.  I now know 100% more about horseshoe crabs than I did before, and I’ll bet you do too.

Rather than having a steady throughline of a story, this issue is more a collection of scenes.  Seeley balances everything well, though, with a good handle on the pacing.  There’s not a scene that feels like it overstays its welcome, and there’s just enough action and intrigue in each to pique your interest.  There’s some exposition and setup to be sure, but just enough to move the story along without stopping it in its tracks.

Most of the ancillary scenes involving the supporting cast plant seeds more than anything, but they’re engaging enough.  Dick and Helena get into a spat that… well, I can’t exactly fault her for getting upset at him given the circumstances.  Seeley has gone on record as stating his preferred “pairing” for Dick is Helena, so it will be interesting to see how their story plays out.  There’s also a welcome return to Dick’s day job, which has been all but isusing for the past several issues.  I like the idea that he took a job at Desmond’s casino to keep an eye on the villain, and it looks as though that plan is going to be turned on its head.  Interesting story beats for sure, even if nothing comes to a resolution here.

Miguel Mendonça continues to impress, with a visual style that blends the energy and dynamics of Javier Fernandez with the clean figures of Marcus To and Minkyu Jung.  His contributions were my favorite part of the previous issue, and it’s no different here.  His layout choices are inspired, as before, there’s a bit of humor interjected (Dick fights a guy by wielding two horseshoe crabs), and Mendonça’s use of perspective is stunning.

There’s so much to that image there, and it all works.  The proportions of each character are spot-on, and that escrima looks like it’s flying off of the page.  I use the word “dynamic” quite a bit, perhaps even too much, but it’s the perfect word for scenes like this.  There’s a definite sense of movement and energy to Mendonça’s pencils, and I hope he sticks around once Humphries comes on board.  He’d be a good complement to Bernard Chang, who’s no slouch himself.

With the opening chapter for this arc, I was left a bit underwhelmed, but I’m getting back on board.  Seeley’s positioning of his different story elements have made me rethink my initial fairly tepid response, and I’m definitely intrigued to see where this story goes.  I love the guy’s writing and what he’s done with Nightwing over the past few years, so here’s hoping Seeley’s swan song goes out on a high note.

Recommended if:

  • You like Nightwing already.
  • You wanted to learn more about horseshoe crabs.

Overall: Better indeed than its predecessor, this issue of Nightwing brought me back on board with Seeley’s final arc.  With some intriguing plot developments, bits of humor, and some truly outstanding art, this book is back on the road to greatness.  Fitting for such a strong talent’s swan song on the title.

SCORE: 7.5/10