Your enjoyment of this issue will depend on your stance with a number of things involving Nightwing at the moment. Despite your stance though, you can’t deny that Dan Jurgens brings a much better aesthetic to the table than previous writers. That, alone, deserves to be recognized.

DC is continuing to run with this Ric Grayson experiment, and I think we can all agree that it’s not what we want. We would prefer to have Dick back, but it doesn’t appear as though that will happen anytime soon. So, you’re left with two options, continue reading and enjoy the positives of each issue, or just drop the book until Dick returns. And yes, you could hate read, but at the end of the day you’re still supporting something you dislike, so I highly recommend you don’t do that. This is still a business and money talks.

As for this issue, the spotlight is put on Hutch, and while I think he’s the most interesting of all the new Nightwings, I think it’s a little too late to try and establish these characters. The problem here is that most people were already upset with the idea of Dick being sidelined and these wannabe Nightwings taking over. But then we got months of issues with no character development, poorly crafted stories, bad dialogue, and forced relationships… Now we’re here, with a foundation so poor that sand would be an upgrade, and DC is still trying to build something out of it. Hey, DC, it’s probably not going to work.

Anyway, as I said, this issue focuses on Hutch, and he’s partnered with Ric for most of the issue. We get to see the two sparring because the Nightwings want to make sure Ric is trained… Which seems odd, because the entire reason Sap invited Ric to join the team was because of his skill set and ability… which clearly comes from training. Even Hutch comes to the conclusion that Ric has to be former special ops because of how good he is, but then talks down to him about being prepared because a trained police officer was injured. Ok… sure.

The story continues to dig into Hutch’s history, and we finally learn why he didn’t join the P.D. I was happy to see that it was a choice more than anything, but the actual reasoning behind it was quite stupid. Hutch was a rookie in training, and he went on a ride-along that resulted in the officer he was with getting put in a coma. That alone could have been interesting if Jurgens had stopped there, but he took the plot further by making it out like it was a problem that the PD was responsible for because they had a rookie along for a ride-along… Umm, I’m not sure if Jurgens is actually familiar with the police force and how they operate (most of my family are cops), but ride-alongs are common. As an average citizen, you can coordinate a ride-along. You don’t have to be a trainee. So, this idea that it was stupid to let a trainee go on a ride-along is… well… stupid. There’s no problem here, and I can’t help but roll my eyes at the idea that this is set up as a huge, dramatic moment.

Of course, we can’t stop there though. To add to the drama, this just so happens to be the anniversary of that incident, and Hutch decides he needs to pay his respects. I agree. However, the daughter of the officer in a coma now hates the police and despises them visiting her dad. She blames the PD for the incident and believes they should be held responsible. The entire thing doesn’t feel accurate or believable. As someone who has grown up around cops, and witnessed tragedies occur with members of the force, I’ve never seen a family member respond in this way. Most cops are proud of the work they do, and their families know the risk they’re undertaking. So the idea that this character would be so hate-driven just feels out of place.

But then – because we have to add even more drama – there’s a new arsonist in town, and they’re targeting police. As it turns out, another police precinct is hit, Hutch and Ric take the call, and instead of it being a normal person starting fires, we have a huge fire monster that hates cops and wants them to die… Gee, I wonder who this could potentially be? We have one new character that hates cops, and now we have a fire monster who hates cops… If this ends up being a red herring, then great, but if not, then comic book writers need to stop insulting our intelligence. Also, having this monster on the cover ruins any shock or awe that should have come from revealing the character on the last page of this issue.

I also want to point out that with Joker’s Daughter still at large, there was an opportunity to create another layer to this narrative to show that she isn’t gone is sitting things out. If we’d received a single page showing that she’s planning something – we don’t even need to know what that something is, just that she’s scheming – then it would have created the idea that the cards were stacking against our heroes.

The Art:  Chris Mooneyham returns to art duties for this issue, and I honestly feel indifferent to him stepping back in. In the past, he’s framed panels in interesting ways that really allow for great storytelling, so I always know that’s a potential treat on the horizon when I see his name… But we didn’t really get any of that in this issue. Add in the fact that I’m not really the biggest fan of his style in general, and there’s not much to get excited about.

I like the gritty texture of his work, and his harsh lines can be beneficial for certain stories or narratives with darker tones. This isn’t one of those stories, and, for me, it just doesn’t work here.

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of Ric Grayson.
  • You want to see more of Hutch.
  • You like cheesy villains reminiscent of those from the 40’s and 50’s.

Overall: Dan Jurgens brings a much stronger voice to Nightwing, but Ric Grayson is still a huge miss as far as I’m concerned. The experiment had some potential, but that potential was squandered with the series spent months wasting the opportunity it was trying to create. At this point, I really wish DC would just cut their losses and move on, but I don’t expect that will happen anytime soon. In fact, we might as well get used to Greasy Grayson sticking around for the remainder of the year.

SCORE: 4.5/10