Nightwing #55 review

Ric Grayson continues his misadventures in Bludhaven, which is sure to get DC more Twitter comments along the lines of…

On a positive note, at least there’s finally some plot progression with Scarecrow. That’s good, right? Kind of. While the best thing about this issue is Scarecrow and how Mooneyham draws him, I feel like he’s completely mishandled here. When the highest praise I can give a book is “yeah, this part is kind of good but handled poorly,” that should give you an idea of how this review is going to go. So, if you liked this issue, you might want to click away now.

In case you haven’t been reading Nightwing lately, I’ll catch you up on what’s taken place. Dick was shot in the head by KG Beast during Tom King’s Batman, and now this book has jumped forward in time. Dick is alive and well… The only problem is that he now has amnesia, doesn’t remember anything about his teenage years or adult life, goes by the name Ric, and hardly acts like the Dick we know and love. Or perhaps you could just say he acts like a total dick… Either way, both are accurate.

In Nightwing’s absence, various city officials have secretly decided to team up and fill Bludhaven’s open vigilante quota by becoming “Nightwings.” But, as always, there’s an ominous threat lurking in the background. In this case, it’s Jonathan Crane, who has been terrorizing the city by providing therapy to people. Week after week of therapy… Therapy!?!?! Say it ain’t so!

Anyway, Scarecrow finally gets the spotlight after months of being teased. Unfortunately, his grand plan is to turn the city to ruin by making people “overcome their fears.” Wait. What? He’s supposed to be the master of fear! Why is he making people overcome their fear? This is the antithesis of who he is and what he stands for!

Oooohhhhhhh….. He hates Robin and is haunted by him because Dick has always been fearless! That makes complete sense! (No, it doesn’t.) I totally support using a chemical to make people overcome their fears by turning them into rabid, angry mobs. (No, I don’t.) I also fully believe that Scarecrow is going to take the very thing that has apparently haunted him for years, and then poison an entire city to become that same nightmare. (Yeah, right.) Totally makes sense. (This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. How in the hell did this ever get approved for publication?)

While nearly everything about the current arc is awful, that doesn’t mean this book is void of some nice moments. There is one scene – yes, one scene – with Scarecrow and detective Svoboda that is mostly good. Parts of the scene feel like the Scarecrow we’ve come to look forward to, and the pages have a classic suspense/ horror vibe to them. Sadly, DC had to embellish this psychotic murderer trend they’ve dredged all of their villains through. It’s becoming a bit much. But, while I do take issue with every Batman rogue being turned into a serial killer lately, I’m less committed to that argument with Scarecrow. If you want to make him a murderer, fine. That being said, having a corpse in your bed is weird and raises a number of logical questions. For the sake of my sanity, I tried not to think about it. And then I saw the page where Scarecrow had apparently gained super strength, and all I wanted to do was throw this book into the toilet and keep flushing until it disintegrated into a soggy mess that got sucked deep into the pits of the sewage system, never to be seen again. And just think, this is how I feel and I haven’t even touched on the terrible Ric Grayson or wanna-be Nightwings.

Ric Grayson. I’m still not a fan. To keep from sounding like a broken record, I’ll leave it at that. As for the Nightwings, this approach could’ve been interesting and fun, but there was never any actual setup for these characters. They just appeared at the beginning of this arc, and now they’re vigilantes. Other than their profession, we know nothing about them. There’s nothing to relate to, nothing to motivate us to like them, and nothing to make us care about them. They’re just there. They don’t even show any heroics in this issue either. All of their scenes are just of them sitting around and talking. And it’s not even good conversations. If you’re going to have characters sitting and talking, at least create some character development!

I also have to question the logic from which they’re operating. They’ve been patrolling solo – except for the brother and sister, and that one-time following Sap’s beat down. Except now, they’re being to patrolling solo again. But then to make the scenario even worse, this issue makes a point to show that they’re out of their league with supervillains, and shouldn’t encounter them alone… So… Why are they dressing as Nightwing and going out alone to begin with? They’re clearly going to encounter – or more likely attract – supervillains. It doesn’t add up. This is clearly an attempt to create tension or suspense, but it fails miserably. The story doesn’t appear to get interesting for the team until the final page, which is when they come face-to-face with Scarecrow, but now you have to spend another two weeks waiting to see if anything will actually happen.

I guess I should actually discuss Ric Grayson since this is “his book.” He still has memory loss, but continues to remember things that are convenient for the sake of the story. He’s also able to beat off mobs of angry people thanks to muscle memory. I don’t think that’s completely how muscle memory works. In fact, a previous issue touched on this very notion when Ric tried to do some acrobatics… I’m going to go use the toilet now.

The Art: As I said earlier, I like the way Mooneyham draws Scarecrow, and it makes it clear that he’s a good match for horror-themed comics. Hopefully, we’ll get more of those elements in the future because that’s something I can buy into. I also like the way Mooneyham frames his panels. When he has time, he can craft an intriguing visual presentation,  – you can easily tell when he has time to think through the layouts and when he doesn’t. But, with those praises out there, I’m not a fan of Scarecrow’s ability to make his costume magically appear then disappear. It’s a minor gripe, I know, but relevant.

I also can’t say I’m a fan of Mooneyham’s overall linework. To be frank, I find his art unpleasant. I mean, I honestly don’t know if we’ve ever had a rendering of Dick Grayson that looked this bad. So, while I like his approach to storytelling, I’m not a fan of the finer details or visual aesthetic.

Recommended if:

  • You need toilet paper.
  • You’re looking for a fire-starter so you can roast some chestnuts.
  • You’re mailing packages and need some stuffing to fill the box.
  • Actually, you’d need to purchase the book to do all of these things, so please come up with other options. We don’t need to encourage DC to keep trying stories like this by giving them sales.

Overall: I said I wanted to throw this book into the toilet and keep flushing until it turned into a soggy, disintegrated mess that got sucked down into the pits of the sewer system… How do you think I feel about this book?

SCORE: 3/10