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Ric Grayson continues his misadventures in this week’s Nightwing #56, and before the current arc ever really gets going, it ends… Because, apparently, the book doesn’t have enough problems as it is.

It’s no secret that I haven’t enjoyed Nightwing ever since Dick Grayson was shot in the head. I know some people are enjoying the change in status quo, but I’m far removed from that crowd. That’s not to say that I didn’t give the story a fair shot. I openly admitted in previous reviews to liking certain concepts and ideas, but I don’t like Dick Grayson being used as the vehicle for these ideas. As the story progressed though, it became evident that DC just didn’t know what they wanted to do with the character or story, and with that indecision came poor execution.

Most of this chapter is more of the same. We get pages recapping everything that’s happened: Dick getting shot, amnesia, Ric, rejection of Nightwing and his friends, etc. Within that, we also get pages of Sap recapping why he and the others became Nightwings: Nightwing’s absence leaving a void in the city, the broken system, red tape within the law department, etc. We get pages of this each and every issue, and by this point, it’s become a little insulting – so I wish they’d either go with a recap page or just make an editor’s note because this has become ridiculous.

This issue wraps the Scarecrow arc, and I can’t help but feel that the one thing that may have been ok in this entire run – Scarecrow attacking the city – was completely cut short. I mean, really… DC spent four or five issues setting up Scarecrow’s arrival in Bludhaven, only for his actual assault on the city to last for about an issue. After weeks of teasing, the creative team decided to follow that up with, “How can we make these Nightwings interesting?” rather than, “How dangerous can we make this situation with Scarecrow?”

The generic presentation of the Nightwings is something I’ve complained about for a few weeks now. Aside from their professions and names, there’s no context or characterization, so it’s hard to get behind them. This issue tries to reconcile that problem but makes the unfortunate mistake of attempting to do so by telling rather than showing. Each of the Nightwings gets a panel to themselves to break down their personalities, but it comes at the expense of the story’s momentum. There’s literally the initial attack on the city, then a few pages of the Nightwings talking/ revealing things about themselves – in the moment of the assault, mind you – and all I kept wondering was, “Where’s Scarecrow and this angry mob of people?”

But no, rather than getting some decent action and seeing the Nightwings attempt to take on this threat, we have to pause so the creative team can try and make these temporary heroes interesting. Why? Because we need to have an emotional response when one of the heroes is severely injured. The attempt falls short though, and fails to contain any impact.

Ric, predictably, decides to jump into action – which he’s done a few times now – but the creative team insists on running with this whole, “I hate this. This isn’t who I am. I’m choosing to live my own life for a reason. I don’t want or need to be Nightwing” crap as he does the exact opposite. I guess they feel this opposition is interesting, but for me, it just reads poorly. Let it go already. We get it. His amnesia self doesn’t want this lifestyle, but there’s only so many times you can watch someone say one thing and do another before you find it irritating… And it’s well past irritating. The real kicker here is that Dick deciding to jump in and save the day should be exciting, not frustrating.

On top of all of this, there’s the bad writing. Too many attempts to create fun or funny moments fall flat. There’s also an abundance of cheesy dialogue or weird exchanges. I mean, Fabian Nicieza writes horrendous lines like, “Dude! What’s your damage?” or “Walk into my fist” as Ric punches Scarecrow. It’s just… bad. And there are multiple examples of dialogue like this, as well as questionable scenes like Scarecrow trying to figure out who Ric Grayson is, despite the fact that he’s literally had numerous sessions with him. Plus, Scarecrow also acknowledges that “Ric” has no fear since he’s not affected by the fear toxin, but seems incapable of putting two and two together that this is Nightwing.

For me, it’s just another reason to avoid this book if you can. The story continues to move from bad to worse, and I have to assume it’s only going to maintain that trend as Joker’s Daughter becomes a focal character.

The Art: Davide Gianfelice covers art duties for this issue, and while his work is fine at times, it’s tonally different than everything that’s come before it. And that’s the real problem here. Artists have rotated in and out with each issue – at times within each issue – that I can’t really take the work seriously. To me, it’s a sign that DC doesn’t really care about their fans or readers, otherwise they would’ve taken their time to craft a good story with a consistent artist.

To be fair to Gianfelice, his work is solid. His aesthetic kind of has a lighter tone to it than anything that’s come before it, and looks as if it were influenced by anime in some panels. Neither of these styles really jive with the horror vibe Mooneyham was trying to convey or the realism that Moore brought to the table. I could see him finding a lot of success with lighter titles such as Super Sons though, so I don’t want to write him off.

Recommended if:

  • You want to see an experiment gone wrong.
  • You wonder what Batman 66 would be like if it kept its camp but tried to take itself seriously.

Overall: DC continues to destroy the Nightwing brand, and that’s a shame considering they’ve spent the last decade crafting stories that have really brought Dick into his own. This story is a mess with poor characters, a worse script, and a sorry excuse for a plot that is so inconsistent it’s embarrassing. Hopefully, this will end soon, because I have no desire to continue reading this title at the moment.

SCORE: 3/10

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