Nightwing #34 review

Nightwing 34

We have reached the end of an era.

Tim Seeley has been writing Dick Grayson pretty consistently for the past several years.  He and Tom King detailed Dick’s exploits as Agent 37 of Spyral in Grayson, one of the most unique and surprisingly excellent new comics of the decade.  After a brief hiatus to prep for the Rebirth initiative, Seeley has helmed Nightwing for the past year and a half or so.  His run has been met with great acclaim, thanks in no small part to bringing Dick Grayson back to Blüdhaven and building up a great supporting cast while also making some pretty ambitious choices like introducing characters from Hostess cake ads.

Nightwing has been, for my money, one of the most consistent books in the DC stable.  It’s reached a few highs yet never dipped so low that it’s ever been bad.  Even the “Gotham Resistance” tie-in, while not great, was more disappointing than anything else.  Thanks to Seeley’s skilled writing, a steady rotation of excellent artistic talent, and some enjoyable world-building, the continuing adventures of Dick Grayson have been some of my favorite stories to read as a reviewer.

Unfortunately, nothing can last forever, as Seeley is moving on to different titles while a new creative team comes on board.  As an aside, his work on Green Lanterns is plenty great, so check that out if you haven’t.

With his final issue, Seeley sets out to tie a nice bow on his entire run.  To that end, it’s a success: Blockbuster, the Run-Offs, and his own creation Raptor all get plenty to do here.  There’s a lot packed in this issue, and it isn’t quite a satisfying as I’d hoped, but it’s still plenty enjoyable on its own.

A lot of that comes down to just how goofy and insane Seeley is willing to let the story get.  At the end of the previous issue, Raptor and Pigeon had rigged up a ton of birds to carry the Blockbuster drug all around Blüdhaven.  It’s one of those crazy schemes that could only occur in a comic book, and the story’s momentum ramps up to eleven and never lets off.

As I said, there’s a lot of content in this issue, but it moves by at a pretty fast clip.  Too fast, at times, as there are some scenes that don’t have much room to breathe.  It helps that it’s so action-packed, and that it’s good action to boot.  Nightwing and Raptor have a pretty exciting fight, and Shawn leads the other Run-Offs on a mission to stop the “Mockbuster” citizens and Pigeon’s birds.  With all that action going on, there’s quite a bit of dialogue in the fights, and it’s balanced fairly well.  It never comes across as awkward or too expository, and while it may not be completely natural (there’s always a suspension of disbelief inherent when characters converse in the middle of fights or action scenes) it moves the story along nicely.

It’s the little things that work the best here, particularly with the secondary characters.  Grimm gets a great line in about the Run-Offs getting too “human,” and Detective Svoboda has possibly the best line of the series to date toward the end.  Everyone gets a nice moment to shine, even if it’s working in the context of a team.  Series mainstays Javier Fernandex and Chris Sotomayor, both of whom will certainly be missed, give the cast the extra visual push needed to round out their characters and personalities.  Not just in words but in “actions” too do the supporting cast shine, though some of the faces are a bit rough and sketchy.

Sotomayor’s colors are particularly great.  I love his use of focus in this sequence, with Dick an Shawn sharp while the background is blurry and out of focus.

It’s a great stylistic touch.  He could have used a stark, single colored background, but including an out of focus cityscape gives the shot a cinematic quality and reinforces Blüdhaven as a character in itself.

In contrast to the really strong work with the supporting cast, the conflict between Nightwing, Raptor, and even Blockbuster doesn’t quite deliver.  Raptor and Pigeon’s partnership for one feels unnecessary, and while it’s kind of a funny team-up it’s never really believable.  I get that he’s just using her to achieve his own ends, but she seems to be infatuated with him and it’s just… weird.  Not that Pigeon is a particularly deep character to begin with, but it’s a strange trait that doesn’t pay off.

Desmond gets a few good shots in here (literally), and his fate comes about in a pretty funny turnabout.  Like Pigeon and Raptor, I never quite bought that this would be a lasting partnership, but we’re not really meant to either.  Just when he thinks he’ll be able to reign at the top of the Blüdhaven crime heap, Desmond is brought down by his own hubris and a hilariously blunt sleight of hand trick.  It’s not quite “tapping somebody on the shoulder opposite of where you’re standing,” but it’s close and it’s great.

There’s one revelation about Raptor that didn’t sit right with me.  Seeley leaves it to where it could be open to interpretation, so it might not be necessary to take it at face value.  If you do, though, it gives him an even closer to connection with Dick that seems just a little too convenient and neat for me.  Not a deal-breaker by any means, just a little too pat and easy.  You’ll see when you read it.

Now that it’s finished, it’s a prime opportunity to look back on Seeley’s run as a whole.  I stand by my assessment and statement that it was incredibly consistent, to the point that I can’t think of a truly bad issue.  It may not have reached some of the highs that Seeley and King achieved on Grayson, but that book was a risk to begin with so they were allowed to push boundaries and get a little crazier.  Nightwing is a safer book, but Seeley still put his stamp on the character and did what he wanted on the run.  Do I wish he would have stayed on longer?  Sure, especially with arcs like “Spyral” feeling shorter than they were intended.  Still, I loved what Tim did on the title, both in bringing back familiar aspects of the status quo and pushing Dick’s story in new directions.

Well done, Tim, Javier, Chris, and the whole team.  Excellent Nightwinging.

Bonus: Dig this lovely variant cover from Yasmine Putri.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

Recommended if:

  • You love Nightwing.
  • You like good action and strong character work.
  • You want some closure on Raptor’s history.

Overall: Seeley almost goes out with a bang.  This is a more than solid ending to a pretty great run, full of great character beats and some pretty exhilarating action scenes.  There are a few revelations that didn’t quite work for me, but overall I had a great time, and sometimes that’s all you need.  Seeley set out to tell the story he wanted to tell, and in that regard he succeeds.  Even with a misgiving or two, I think it’s safe to say he went out on top.

SCORE: 7.5/10

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