Welcome back to the misadventures of Ric “I’m not a hero but let me go save people” Grayson. I will admit that this is one of the better issues of this run – or maybe I’m just getting used to this mess – but it’s still not great.
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Nightwing, or as Jay has so appropriately deemed this run, Notwing, picks up where the last issue left off. Burnback is continuing his assault on the police force and the “Nightwings,” while claiming he wants to protect Melissa Stapleton. The issue itself is a bit of a paint by numbers as Dan Jurgens follows the same formula he’s used for the past three issues.
We’re reminded of what happened to Dick Grayson, and are reintroduced to Ric Grayson – the man who isn’t a hero and doesn’t want to be a hero or acknowledge his past, while actively being a hero and embracing almost everything about his past… Yeah, we know who he is and we’d rather forget about him. Please stop reminding us.
Then we get the featured “Nightwing” of the month. In this case, it’s Colleen Edwards, the female Notwing, or as they’re now coining her, Nightwing Gold. Her set-up is the same as Sap’s and Malcolm’s from the past two issues: she acknowledges Ric’s skill and how he’s always there to save the day, but questions whether he can be trusted. We’re literally getting the same story over and over as the team fights a fire monster… Which also plays out the same way.
Featured Notwing goes toe to toe with the fire monster, tries to use blunt force to beat it – you know, instead of turning to something that can stop a fire – and finds blunt force completely ineffective. I’ll give the use of blunt force a bit of a pass because this is Colleen’s first encounter with Burnback. That being said, we’ve basically paid to read the exact same thing three months in a row now, and I’m not ok with that. If I’m paying $3.99 for a book every month, I don’t want to pay for a regurgitation of the same story featuring a different character.
In addition to this, I’d also like to point out that we’re nearly ten pages into the issue by this point. Half the issue has been wasted reminding readers of what’s taken place as opposed to using a recap page to knock all of this out in a single page. Just stating a fact. Another fact worth stating: DC apparently forgot that they named this fire monster Burnback, because in this issue they call him Backburn. Yeah… Great job Jurgens and editors! I get the feeling everyone involved with this story feels the same way I feel about it… They don’t care.
Turning back to repetition, the story transitions to Zak Edwards, Colleen’s brother, who doesn’t get a coined Nightwing name here, but is always getting injured and caught in near-death experiences. Well, guess what happens to him here? He gets injured and caught in a near-death experience. *Gasps* Shocking! I never saw it coming! This is literally his character arc for every Ric Grayson arc. Zak, or someone else, questions whether he’s cut out for this. He involves himself anyway, clearly isn’t qualified, and then nearly dies… At this point, I wish they’d just kill him because I’m tired of seeing this:
We get the “big battle” with Burnback, and it’s ok. Ultimately, it is Zak that delivers the final blow to Burnback, so that was an unexpected turn of events. How it happens is a bit of a joke though considering he uses a fire hydrant that just happens to appear in the middle of the street… But whatever. I’m just glad we don’t have to endure another week of this same repetition. In Burnback’s final moments, we learn who the monster really is. The reveal is as predictable as everything else in this book at the moment, and despite Jurgen’s attempt to build an emotional close, the entire thing falls flat.
Throughout this arc, Jurgens has also tried to build a case of why it’s justified to feel angry with police, but he never comes close to sticking that landing. I come from a family of cops, so I understand I have some bias in this area, however, I’ll add that good cops also become infuriated by bad cops. If there are cops doing bad things, most cops want them to be stopped. Unfortunately, the actions in this arc never make me think, “What a bad cop.” Because of this, I can’t give this paper-thin subplot any love either.
Ultimately, there are moments here that are decent and entertaining, but as a whole, I’m simply not feeling this book. I love Nightwing. I love Dick Grayson. But as we established months ago… This isn’t him or that. This is nothing more than a mistake. Also, how many times are we going to end on this note?
The Art: Ronan Cliquet steps in to cover art for the issue. His work is decent but inconsistent. Aesthetically, I find his work more appealing that Mooneyham’s, but I don’t think he’s as good of a storyteller. A lot of Cliquet’s backgrounds are nothing more than splashes of color, and that makes me miss the world-building and scenic work that Mooneyham would provide, despite how weird his characters looked at times. I think there’s potential for Cliquet though, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him pop up from time to time on books or for filler issues.
- Honestly, there’s no point in investing in this unless you have money and time to kill. There are plenty of other books out there that deserve your attention. Don’t support DC’s terrible experiment.
Overall: Nightwing #61 feels like a “been there, done that” because that’s essentially what 75% of the book is… a regurgitation of story and formula from the past two or three issues. There are a few moments that are ok, but mostly the book gets in its own way because DC insists on recapping the story in the opening pages of each chapter… It’s not worth your time or money, and it’s going to make an incredibly trying read once collected. You can skip this and thank me later.