I’m not feeling this arc at all. Everything about it comes across as forced, underdeveloped, and half-assed. In fact, the best thing about this issue is the variant cover.
There’s a tech crisis taking place in Bludhaven. A new firm has come to town and they’re rolling out their product to everyone within a certain radius. The kicker is that there’s more to this than meets the eye. (Shocking.) The tech is invading people’s minds and downloading their knowledge… Don’t ask how. I don’t have the patience to try and pretend there’s a reasonable explanation or answer. Just roll with it. With this information, the tech is beginning to blackmail citizens of Bludhaven before killing them or pushing them to commit suicide. As it so happens, Nightwing is one of the people who received this tech (Shocking.), and he’s also having to deal with the ramifications of it himself.
The problem here is that there’s clearly someone behind all of this, but we don’t know who or why. There’s also no sense of mystery. There’s just a faceless villain. We also don’t know what they hope to achieve, so motivation is lacking as well. This leaves the narrative with little momentum because we don’t really know what the purpose is for any of this. So far, it’s just a series of events that are happening.
Thankfully, this chapter actually provides a face to the villain. I’d say I’m surprised by this reveal, but I’m not. Let’s face it, there’s only one new character that’s appeared in both issues of this arc so far, and he just happens to be the villain. (Shocking) This character is also creepy, so, he fits the profile without actually doing anything worthy of mustache twirling. Basically, there is no surprise here, just the confirmation of a suspicion so strong that it was more of an expectation than anything. And yet, even with this reveal, there’s still no development into the character or their reasons. Yeah… Just so we’re clear, this should be an example of how not to write a story.
The general theme behind the narrative is actually a decent one. I fully support a story that creates a commentary on society’s addiction to technology. The failure here completely stems from execution. I’ve expressed that there’s a worthwhile and worthy commentary to be found within this arc, but Percy is either too preachy in what he has to say, or he fails to fully explore the various sides of the conflict. Yes, this tech is bad. We get it. But give us another side to it. Give us a reason to believe people really want or feel they need this product. Apart from a comment here or there, nothing supports the desire Bludhaven has for this technology. Maybe it’s just me, but if some new firm suddenly sent out a product like this to every home and business for free… I’d be suspicious.
When you break this book down, “generic” and “underdeveloped” seem to be apt words to describe the arc. We have an underdeveloped plot, as well as underdeveloped characters… Which naturally leads to an underdeveloped story. Do you see where I’m heading with this? There are some ideas presented here that are interesting – especially the release of private information that’s pushing people to commit suicide – but Percy is just too “on the nose” with all of it. His points are unfocused, and it almost feels as if he threw the story together last-minute, without ever fully thinking it over and working it through.
There’s potential for an element of horror, but he’s ignoring that route. There’s also potential to explore other concepts pertaining to tech, relationships, human nature, etc, as well, but those are all being ignored as well. Anything that would make this story interesting, isn’t present. In fact, I’d say the downfall of this concept is that it’s “comic booky” to a fault.
Beyond the narrative and themes, there’s also a miss in tone and characterization. Nightwing doesn’t feel like Nightwing. Maybe it’s due to the tone of the story itself, but even then, I still feel as though a quality writer should be able to find a way to let the true nature of a character shine through. I will admit that some of the moments between Dick and Babs are enjoyable, but their occurrence is so convenient it’ll make you roll your eyes.
Speaking of convenience, there’s a lot of that in this issue. There are three major instances that really bother me though. The first is the small device that went into Dick’s body to download his knowledge. Apparently, it has to actually get back to Wyrm to pass the information along… Which doesn’t make sense when you put two and two together to realize that Wyrm is in all places at once – which you even see in this issue. Then there’s Babs entrance into the book. Dick jumps out of a window to escape Wyrm, and Batgirl happens to be there to catch him. If you’ll think back to last month’s issue, you’ll remember that within the story, it was just minutes ago that Dick was on the phone with Barbara while she was in Gotham. And yet, we’re supposed to believe that within – what has to be ten minutes – she researched this device, learned about the company, connected it to various murders, then left Gotham and came to Bludhaven to rescue Dick… Who she didn’t even know was in immediate danger. But I digress, without any additional commentary on this moment I’ll move on to my third example: Babs makes an inhibitor to keep Nightwing’s knowledge from being taken by him, and also allows him to see through the illusions of Wyrm. *Sigh* For real, this is too much.
At this point, Percy’s Nightwing is so farfetched and misses the mark so much, that it’s a chore to discuss. It’s not the worst book you’ll read, but there sure as hell isn’t anything about worth reading either. I like Percy. He’s better than this… Right? Or am I still holding on to the idea all of his work could be as good as his first story with DC, “Terminal.” Maybe that story was just a fluke…
The Art: As disappointing as Percy’s script is, Mooneyham’s art is probably more disappointing. His work is incredibly inconsistent, and, at times, looks like it was completed by two separate artists. Beyond that, in his first issue, Mooneyham did a great job in framing his panels so that they were intriguing and unique, but now they’re just… basic. There’s nothing innovative or creative to his art. There’s also no energy. I have many thoughts pertaining to both the writing and the art, but none of them are promising.
- You want a mediocre-at-best Nightwing story.
- Babs makes a dick joke.
Overall: Can we just move on? I’m not saying I want Percy gone just yet, but I’m definitely ready to move past this story. If I’m being completely transparent though, Percy needs to deliver with the next story or people will most definitely drop Nightwing from their pull list.