I struggled with this review. I’m not going to lie. I found myself torn between a lot of aspects of the story, and was also equally torn about what to use as my intro for this review. I came up with the following:
“In this week’s issue of Nightwing, Dan Didio finally does what he’s been trying to do for years – he kills Dick Grayson!”
“If it looks like a pig, acts like a pig, and squeals like a pig, then it’s a pig. Introducing, Jason Todd!”
“Nightwing #50: AKA – We don’t know what we’re doing so we’re just going to do this! Yyyyaaaayyyy!”
“And you thought the Titans trailer was bad.”
Despite what you may think, I didn’t hate this issue. I actually thought the writing was quite good. However, I do hate what they’re doing with Dick. It’s evident that they don’t know what to do with the character, and because of that, they essentially decided to make him a completely different character. In fact, DC (*cough* Dan Didio *cough*) is so incapable of understanding their characters, that rather than give them a natural progression, they decided to do something “fresh” and “new” that is completely out of character. So, what do we have here? We have Dick Grayson, the most positive, upbeat, and inspirational character in the Bat-family, now living with amnesia and acting like a complete asshole because he was shot in the head. And the infuriating thing about all of it is that DC can skirt their way around the “out of character” argument because it technically isn’t out of character since Dick is suffering from a tragedy.
But here’s the real kicker – and I hope someone at DC reads this. This isn’t new, and this isn’t fresh. This is simply more of the same. Amnesia? We just had this storyline with Bruce Wayne at the end of the New 52. It’s also been done way too many times and has now positioned itself as a cliché. The other problem with this is that Dick is now Jason Todd. We don’t need another Jason Todd, because we already have a Jason Todd. This supports my statement that DC doesn’t understand or know what to do with their characters. Each of the Robins represent something different and each have their own personality – that’s a large reason why they’re all great, successful characters.
Taking one of your characters and turning them into a character that already exists is not a plan for success. It doesn’t work here, and it didn’t work when you tried to make Barbara Gordon into Stephanie Brown, Strix into Cassandra Cain, Harper Row into Tim Drake, Duke Thomas into Tim Drake, and so on. So, let me make myself very clear, and DC, I really hope you’re reading this… You don’t have a character problem, you have a story problem. You can’t seem to tell good stories anymore. And, unfortunately, because of your approach over the last few years, you now have a character problem, because none of the characters are true to who they really are, but have instead become a conglomerate of each other, making each of them less significant. You’re literally gutting your own brand, and you’re too caught up with how smart you think you are, that you don’t see it.
Now, you might be asking yourself, how is Dick like Jason? Well, with his amnesia, he’s now brash, rude, confrontational, pushes his friends and allies away, and has positioned himself as the outsider of the Bat family. He spends his free time gambling, drinking, and breaking into people’s homes so he can squat in them while they’re gone – lounging around in his underwear, eating their food, etc. It’s just… 100% Jason Todd.
So, what would be a good direction for Dick Grayson? I’m complaining about DC’s lack of vision, but I’m just nagging if I don’t offer up what I feel is a better solution. What DC needs to do with Dick, is let him be his own man. They started doing this with Grayson, and Tim Seeley initiated the Rebirth run this way with “Better than Batman,” but then they immediately pulled Dick back into the shadows of Batman after that. Let him grow up. Let him be a peer to Batman rather than a student of Batman. He’s earned that. He’s worn the mantle on multiple occasions, he served as a spy in a spy organization, and has rich foundations in his upbringing and history with the Court of Owls… So why insist on taking him back to square one as a protégé of Batman?
More importantly, if you’re going to make Dick suffer, why not let us see him suffer? That would be more interesting. Let Dick Grayson endure a tragedy so that we can see him, as Dick Grayson, deal with what he’s going through with a positive and inspirational attitude. Don’t cop out and use the cliché of amnesia to essentially create a new character.
But alas, as I stated, the issue itself is written really well. In fact, this is the best work that Ben Percy has done on Nightwing, and is undoubtedly a sign of what Percy could be capable of. If this were a Jason Todd story, I’d be singing its praises like there’s no tomorrow. It would be fitting and interesting because the character responses would feel natural. But no matter how well this is written, it’s simply not honest, and that’s a problem.
There’s a backstory with Scarecrow dealing with Dick back when he was Robin. It’s… forgettable. The narrative could be interesting, but it feels out of place and doesn’t really hold up when people are curious/ furious with what’s taking place in the present day. And while I have no doubt the story will tie-in to the present day to help make Dick Grayson his own man/ hero again, I still don’t think he will be Dick Grayson. At least for a year, then there will be a cancellation/ soft reboot, and Dick will come back as the character we love – thus making this arc exactly what it is… A complete waste.
The Art: Three artists contribute pencils to this book: Travis Moore, Chris Mooneyham, and Klaus Janson. While Mooneyham and Janson are respectable artists in their own right, their work just doesn’t live up to the beauty and elegance of Moore’s work. Seriously, get this guy on a book full-time! His work is incredible! The way he draws scenery, body language, emotion… you see a rebel defiance in Dick that is captivating and engaging. But then there are times when you see the despair in characters – which he captures perfectly with Babs. He’s an A-class artist that needs to be listed in the ranks of new legends like Jason Fabok, Mikel Janin, and more. And… He gives us PLENTY of eye candy. If there’s one reason you should buy this book, it’s for Travis Moore’s outstanding art.
- You like completely changing the fundamental characteristics of characters.
- You want to be blessed with Travis Moore’s art
- The script is actually well-written.
Overall: On one hand, this is an excellently written, engaging and captivating script. Had this been a story about Jason Todd, or perhaps a new character that is an immigrant taxi driver who is fed up with the chaos of Gotham, I would have given this book a 9/10, easy. But this isn’t a book about Jason Todd or a new character that’s an immigrant who is a taxi driver that is fed up with Gotham… This is a book about Dick Grayson, Nightwing, the first Robin, and everything about this story is the opposite of what this book and character should be. So, if you care about Dick Grayson/ Nightwing as a character… Please don’t but this book. Let your money talk, and demand that DC respect the characters you love.