Man, this issue is a doozy… I had problems with this book from the word, “go.” And if I’m being honest, while I’m not crazy about the plot, that’s not my major issue here. It’s the characterization, or, more importantly, the lack thereof. Add in Ben Percy’s heavy-handed script, and… well… *Sigh* Let’s just be glad we got Batman: Prelude to the Wedding: Nightwing vs Hush by Tim Seeley this week…
Dick is currently investigating a tech crisis in Bludhaven. He’s seeing people completely consumed in their devices, becoming disconnected from the world, and because of that, they’re oblivious to any pleasures or threats around them. Since this is a comic book though, there’s naturally going to be some nefarious threat behind it all. In this case, people are dying because of their tech. I’m not talking accidental deaths either. No, people are being targeted and murdered by some type of tech-based creature. It’s creepy but impactful.
Conceptually, I like the idea of this. The narrative creates a commentary that is relevant and needed. But I liked the conversation Percy created because it was initially just that… a conversation. This month, that conversation shifts to preaching. And let’s face it… Most people don’t read comics because they want to receive a sermon. Ultimately, I wish he wouldn’t be so heavy-handed with his social and political views. It’s like he’s turning into that obnoxious friend who ruins good times because they feel a need to inject political or social commentary into everything, sometimes in a passive-aggressive way. You know what I’m talking about.
And that’s not to say that you shouldn’t discuss politics or social views in your writing. Quite the contrary. I welcome and encourage social and political commentaries because it can create growth, or allow people to see and experience something from a different perspective. That being said, situations like this are often much more impactful when you discuss all aspects of the topic rather than just one standpoint. Don’t just pick a side and push a single agenda. You’re not really going to get anywhere with that. But, regardless of your approach, please don’t sacrifice your characters or characterization to do this… And guess what Percy does…
I know Ben Percy is writing Nightwing, but I’m still waiting for those issues to publish because Dick Grayson nowhere to be found here. I see pictures of him in the panels, but I don’t hear his voice. I hear Ben Percy’s voice loud and clear. Dick? Not so much. This peeves me to no end. If you’re writing a book that features an established character, you’re there to tell their story… Not yours. Respect the character. In this case, Dick Grayson has most likely been around longer than you, and will inevitably last longer than you. This approach is not only a disservice to him as a character, but the fans who love him.
And I don’t know why this has become a “thing” when writing Dick Grayson, but for the love of God, can we stop making him so miserable? The past few writers who have tackled Nightwing, have made him wallow in self-doubt or self-deprecation. And not even in a funny way. It just doesn’t fit with him. Every now and then, if a moment or situation has builds to doubt – for example when he first stepped or of Batman’s shadow or whenever he became Batman – sure… But on a daily basis? No. It’s like he’s gone from the most confident and charismatic character to someone who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. There’s nothing wrong with people who suffer from these things, but Nightwing doesn’t.
In this issue, he oversleeps and is late to a training session with his new client. In the matter of roughly two pages, he makes three or four comments about how he’s an awful person for being late. Apologizing once, maybe twice would’ve sufficed, especially since his client wasn’t bothered by it.
There are some interesting moments with Babs in this issue – which I’ll admit were nice to see – but the progression of the plot is jarring. There’s so much uncertainty in the narrative that I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on or if I had missed something. Then I remember that the last issue left off with a robot going into Dick’s body. Once I remember this, things connected a little better for me.
We also get to see the villain in this issue, and I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t. Mostly it’s because the cover ruins the reveal. This is just a tip for publishers, but if you’re going to reveal a character within the last two to three pages of an issue, then be smart enough not to spoil that character on the cover of said issue… Which also just happens to include copy that says, “Who or what is… Wyrm?” It’s a bit insulting to readers who are trying to invest in your brand.
The Art: Last month I praised Chris Mooneyham for creating an engaging landscape for Bludhaven. He was able to inject so much character and detail into his panels, and it really created something special. In addition to this, he framed some stellar panels that were unique in terms of their point of view… None of these aspects are present here. I’m not going to say his art is terrible, but he’s definitely not playing to his strengths. Again, the art isn’t bad, it’s just… fine.
- You want to read some dude pretending to be Nightwing.
- Killer Croc has a Pomeranian.
- You still think that client with the cybernetic arm and eye is creepy.
Overall: Ben Percy’s second dip into Nightwing is a little more interesting as far as plot is concerned, but his themes and social commentary is extremely heavy-handed. Add to that the fact that Dick Grayson’s voice isn’t found anywhere in the script, and I’m left with the realization that this isn’t a Nightwing story, but instead, a commentary on technology and it’s negative impacts that Ben Percy feels he needs to tell at the expense of our title character… I know we’re only two issues in, but I really hope this is just a situation where Percy is only writing one arc, and DC is waiting in the wings with the announcement of the real, full-time creative team.