Let’s be honest, Nightwing is better now than when DC started this whole Ric Grayson stint, but it’s still far from great. On the surface, this story might appear to be decent, but when you start digging in, it quickly falls apart. And no, Joker’s Daughter definitely doesn’t help.

Two huge problems continue to plague Nightwing. First off, this isn’t Dick Grayson. People love Dick Grayson. Not having his presence in his own book is an absolute hinderance for the title. And this isn’t even an instance of passing the torch. We’re just having another contrived amnesia story where Dick does or doesn’t act like himself depending on what’s convenient for the narrative. I’m not a fan.

The second problem we encounter here is that every character is underdeveloped. A number of key players have been introduced since Ric Grayson came to be, and all of them were pushed to the forefront without any development. Now they’re supposed to be key players in this book, and they’re receiving equal attention – if not more – than our lead hero. But with roughly five new players, as well as a villain that also needs some development, plus the “newness” of Ric… It’s just too much for a comic. Even an arc and a half into this new take on Bludhaven, I feel like I barely know any of these characters.

So, these are two key problems the book has going into this issue. Unfortunately, the issue itself is chock-full of opportunities as well. The villain for the current arc is Joker’s Daughter. Despite being anticlimactic in her presence, she’s actually fine here. She isn’t nearly as obnoxious as she used to be, but her attempts to create chaos in this issue are generic and predictable. I don’t think this is a result of the character though as much as it’s a result of the writing. Joker’s Daughter kidnaps a city official, tortures him, and sets him loose in Bludhaven with a bomb strapped to him to create terror. This could have been a decent, terrifying story, but the writers got in their own way and didn’t work the script well enough. Rather than take this down an interesting, unexpected path, they – or editorial – opted to go with the unbelievable, ludicrous route that hinders both the characters and the story. It’s disappointing.

Nightwing #58 is an example of a script where I feel the need to ask if anyone looked at it with a critical eye. Writers? Editors? Anyone? There are too many plots or moments that simply don’t add up. There are so many instances where logic clearly wasn’t used, and they could have easily been corrected. I know the talent works on tight timelines, and I know this book, in particular, has been a mess of a transition, but still… It feels like there’s little to no effort here, and the poor execution reads as if nobody even cares. I’m not saying they don’t, I’m just saying that it looks that way.

Spoiler

The story begins with Zak. Already, on page one, I have an issue because Zak is perfectly fine after being shot and nearly killed roughly a day or two ago… The dude should be in the hospital, not reflecting on whether the vigilante life is for him before suiting up. Beyond that, there’s an entire page dedicated to him coming to terms that he’s not cut out for this life – a sentiment that is supported – before being told he needs to jump into action. We’re only one page in and I’ve already found two major points of contention concerning the plot.

Anyway, the threat they’re going to encounter is what was set-up at the end of the last issue. Joker’s Daughter has tortured a city representative and set him loose in Bludhaven with a bomb strapped to him. Terrifying, right? Well, it should’ve been. Instead, it’s a joke. There are so many problems here that the best way for me to speak to them is by approaching the scene through each character.

First off, we’ll start with the councilman. He’s presented as if he is a beloved figure within the community and city, who is now hated because he’s crazed and wants to blow people up. But if you remember, he was hated by the community in the last issue when we met him. The dude wants to tear down shelters and soup kitchens to build a parking lot for a stadium. We’ve only seen him presented in a negative light, so any rhetoric saying otherwise isn’t going to feel earned.  Problem.

Then, while the initial sight of a disfigured person with a bomb strapped two them would be scary, the moment that person started yelling “help me,” I feel like most people would realize he was in danger rather than trying to cause it. Despite that, people still act like he’s trying to kill them. Even when the Nightwings show up and verbally acknowledge he’s the victim in all of this, people still scream that he’s trying to kill them. Problem.

My next issue is with the citizens. Yes, as I said above, if someone has a bomb strapped to them, then by all means, be concerned. But the way that all of them fail to react is mind-numbingly stupid. Nobody runs for the back door. Nobody calls for the police. And after the councilman moves past the front door, nobody makes a break for it. You can’t see me right now, but I’m throwing up my arms in a “what gives?” manner. A number of people would’ve have been doing one of these three things. But they don’t. And what makes matters worse, is that even when the Nightwings show up and confirm that the councilman isn’t the actual threat, they still cower as if they’re locked in with a bomb that will go off any second… Except the front door is unlocked and wide open. Run! (They don’t.) I have a problem with this. Finally, one of the Nightwing’s is instructed to bust open a window so people can escape… but the front door is still unlocked and wide open! *Sigh*

Finally, we have the entire plan and execution from Joker’s Daughter. Had she set the councilman loose and just detonated the bomb after she knew he was in a public place, I probably wouldn’t be complaining right now. It would have been shocking and unexpected. I would probably view Joker’s Daughter as more of a viable threat as well… but that isn’t the case.

Instead, JD sets the councilman loose, and he happens to wander into the one restaurant that she’s happened to boobytrap and wire with cameras within the one to two days that she’s been in Bludhaven. Yes, I just rolled my eyes. I mean, come on… I know this is comics and that we should suspend disbelief, but put some effort into your plots. Do you really expect us to believe that Jokers Daughter welded the back door of the restaurant shut, planted bombs underneath the floor, installed cameras inside and outside the restaurant, and rigged the ceiling to collapse (a contraption that is quite apparent from the inside)… and nobody noticed? And… And she just happens to be stowed away underneath the restaurant while all of this is happening? No. This is stupid.

When all is said and done, the book does find a resolve, but nobody comes out on top here because they’re all depicted so terribly. Joker’s Daughter continues to look like a joke. The Nightwings continue to prove they’re out of their league. Ric Grayson is still an abomination. And if you thought the citizens of Gotham lacked common sense, wait till you get a load of these folks here in Bludhaven.

The Art: Travis Moore is on art duties with Tamra Bonvillain on colors. These two are an incredible team, and they are the real champions of this book! I’ve said this before, but I really want both of these creators to get assigned to a book with a quality writer so we can really see what they have to offer. At the moment, I can’t help but feel that their talents are being squandered to this mess of a book and they deserve better.

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of Joker’s Daughter.
  • You like the whole Ric Grayson approach.

Overall: This isn’t working. DC needs to cut their losses and just move on. There hasn’t been a quality writer on this book since Tim Seeley. Not only is that a shame, but it’s also insulting and disrespectful to treat a character that’s been around for nearly 80 years this way. If you’re not a fan of this experiment, then please don’t support it with your money.

SCORE: 3/10