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Someone should really look into Bludhaven… They appear to have a serious steroid problem!

As we all know, this is Tim Seeley’s final arc. I’m sad to see him go because he’s delivered some great Dick Grayson stories over the past few years, but I also understand the need or desire to move on. To conclude his run on Nightwing, he’s brought his story full circle and is ending where he began: with Raptor. As a special, sweet goodbye for fans, Seeley has also incorporated other key players from Nightwing: Blockbuster, Shawn, The Run-Offs, Huntress, and more. These sentiments may be a little miscalculated though. It appears that Seeley is trying to provide a clean slate for Sam Humphries before he steps in to helm the title, and this decision has resulted in quite a bit of exposition as all the plotlines race towards a resolution.

Typically, one would expect to have a degree of exposition to set up any story, but “Raptor’s Revenge” has unfortunately been burdened by it. Each issue, so far, has been a battle of focus between plot and character. If characters aren’t hastily being dealt with to tie up loose ends, then the plot of this story is. The reality of this has left us with a rushed story from beginning to end. In addition, the emotional elements of the narrative aren’t quite as satisfying as what most of us would prefer. It’s like a one, two punch where neither the characters nor the story is getting room to breathe, which leaves readers suffocating a bit. Simply put, there’s a lot going on without much payoff. I would like nothing more than to say that this issue is different, but it isn’t.

Two words can sum up this chapter: action and exposition. After some nice moments between Raptor and Dick in the previous issue, the book concluded with casino attendees being poisoned with the Blockbuster serum. I suspected we would be in for a high energy, action-packed chapter this week, and I’m right. Most of this book is Nightwing battling a casino full of Blockbusters, which plays out exactly how it sounds. Thankfully, that abundance of action helps balance out the exposition and gives the story some needed energy. The one aspect of “Raptor’s Revenge” that has been neglected the most so far, is the actual plot. This chapter feels those holes, but the execution is as unenthusiastic as it is quick.

The issue – and story, for that matter – isn’t bad, but it is a little disappointing. It’s hard not to wonder how all of this could have played out and how epic these plots could’ve been had they been executed how, I imagine, Seeley originally intended them too. Despite the challenges and quick nature of Seeley’s final dance with Dick Grayson, it’s still worth your time… Especially if you’ve enjoyed Seeley’s run up to this point.

The Art: Javier Fernandez covers art for this issue, and he does a solid job. There are certain styles and textures to his pencils that some readers may not enjoy, but I feel like it makes his work distinctive. To a degree, it helps give him a voice in the narrative – something that can be lost in some comics depending on the artist. I do wonder how strong Fernandez art could be if he weren’t working on a double-ship schedule. Yes, there are other artists that step in, but the schedule is still a daunting one.

Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good:

Blockbuster. I’d argue that Blockbuster is one of Nightwing’s most prominent rogues, and Seeley’s take on him has been rather interesting. I’ve been intrigued to see which way Blockbuster would lean in this story, and I’m happy that he’s siding with Nightwing in this altercation… Granted, it has nothing to do with Nightwing, and everything to do with Bludhaven. Desmond views Raptor as a much greater threat to his home than Nightwing ever will be. Regardless, the two have a complex and interesting dynamic, and it’s one that I wish we could get more of!

MARTHA! Mother’s Eyes. We find out that Dick’s mother kept Raptor from killing Nightwing, but this isn’t some sort of “MARTHA!” moment. The explanation is brief, but Raptor confesses that he couldn’t kill Nightwing because he has his mother’s eyes. It’s this complexity in Raptor that makes him such an interesting character. I mentioned in Upcoming Comics that Raptor was more intriguing early in the series when he was more of an anti-hero than a full-fledged villain. This moment harkens back to that time, and rounds him out as a character. Hopefully he’ll be around long after Seeley leaves Nightwing, and that once this feud with Dick has played out, Raptor will move back to the anti-hero role.

The Plan. This is a two-part conversation. First, Blockbuster’s plan. Desmond’s mission is to protect Bludhaven at any cost. He’s not looking to protect it from criminals though, he’s trying to protect it from outsiders that are looking to change his city. So what does he do? He mass produces the Blockbuster serum – minus the element that lets you keep your brains – and begins selling it to mob bosses so they can protect themselves and their territories. It’s an extremely careless move, but the biggest impact Desmond can make… It can easily backfire as well, which is exactly what happens.

I’ve also spent most of this arc trying to figure out why Raptor would team with Pidgeon. Until this issue, it felt as if Seeley teamed these two together for shock value because I couldn’t figure out how the two benefited or served one another. Now we know that Raptor wants to use Pigeon’s pigeons to spread the Blockbuster serum throughout Bludhaven. Yes, it’s essentially the same thing Raptor does in this issue, just on a bigger scale, but the outcome feels direr considering how this issue played out with merely a casino full of Blockbusters.

Tim? Is that you?

 

The Bad:

Roided Out. An army of Blockbusters seems fun at first… until you experience it. Watching Nightwing, Blockbuster, and the Run-Offs fight a horde of bulky rage monsters grows old pretty quickly, no matter how much charisma our heroes have. There’s also a negative side effect to this though. Watching Nightwing and the Runoffs stop all of these Blockbusters so easily, diminishes the threat of the main Blockbuster for potential, future conflicts. It’s a minor issue, but one worth noting.

Exposition. As I stated, this chapter, like the entire story, is riddled with exposition. I’m a show it, don’t say it kind of guy, but I don’t feel like Seeley had many choices in this circumstance. As much as I don’t want to hold this against him, it has to be considered.

Recommended if:

  • You’ve enjoyed Tim Seeley’s run on Nightwing.
  • You’re curious to see what role Blockbuster will play in this narrative.
  • A story full of roided-out casino attendees sounds too good to pass up.

Overall: Seeley delivers another solid chapter as he races to wrap up his run on Nightwing. The plots he’s tasked to resolve compared to the issue count he’s been given doesn’t work in his favor, but he’s handling it quite well. There are two major negatives here. One is the abundance of exposition, and the other is that Seeley doesn’t get the time he deserves to tell these stories. But when the latter is one of the main opportunities of a book, it can’t be that bad! With all of this exposition out of the way, Seeley appears to be set up for one hell of a conclusion next month, and you better believe I’m excited for it!

SCORE: 6.5/ 10

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