Nightwing #68 is almost a good Nightwing book. In terms of art and writing, everything here is a major step up from more recent issues. Jurgens sets the stage for a great fight between Dick and Cobb, which artist Ronan Cliquet renders extremely well. We even get some solid nostalgia bait in some gorgeous Travis Moore splash pages that show Dick in his glory days as Robin and Nightwing. But there’s an essential teetering nature to Jurgens’ script that keeps Nightwing #68 from becoming the issue we’ve all been waiting for. Jurgens tugs at the thread in Dick’s mind that should unravel everything and allow him to reclaim the Nightwing mantle. Unfortunately, for a chapter titled “The Brain Bomb”, there’s a lack of truly explosive moments within its pages.
I’ve spoken about how great an artist Travis Moore is before. Whenever his art finds its way into Jurgens’ Nightwing, it’s a joy to pour over. The book opens strong with Dick’s narration as he works his way through his obscured memories, finally able to see himself as Robin and Nightwing, even if he doesn’t fully understand why. Moore doesn’t get to do much character work or storytelling here unfortunately. His splash pages are very well drawn, but don’t amount to much more than some very nice pinup art. Nick Filardi’s colors always seem to fit Moore’s pencils just a bit more than with Cliquet’s. Moore’s compositions and figure work are just an inch more dramatic in nature and well suited to Filardi’s deep colors and strong sense of dimension. Still, without Dick’s narration, Moore’s splash pages wouldn’t necessarily come across as the scattered memories they are meant to represent. His two-page spread is more successful in that regard, as the reader can track a sense of progression to the various scenes Moore depicts, which range from Dick’s childhood in Wayne Manor to his time under the Batman cowl. Nonetheless, this opening reminds readers what they like so much about Dick Grayson, though at this point it almost feels like a mean-spirited tease.
The majority of the book is drawn by Ronan Cliquet and depicts a long fight between Dick and Cobb. Cliquet’s layouts are clean, his movement and poses sell the choreography clearly for the most part, and he has Dick use some of acrobatic skills to his advantage. If anything falters, Cliquet’s facial work is sometimes stiff and not expressive. A great moment early in the fight has Dick toss away his blades due to their lethal nature, but his face remains stuck in a somewhat awkward grimace that doesn’t sell the moment as triumphantly as it could be. Additionally, some of the blows that Cobb and Dick land on each other don’t have enough visual cues to sell their impact. In one panel, Cobb slices Dick’s leg, but Cliquet’s figure work doesn’t sell the damage done because Dick’s pose doesn’t make him look like he’s just had his leg sliced open. The lettered sound effects by Andworld Design also don’t do much to heighten the impact of certain blows, but for the most part they are efficient enough.
Filardi’s colors are a true standout this time around. The scene takes place in daytime, free from the restrictive green palette of previous chapters due to the “Age of Doom”, and makes the fight feel refreshing. Filardi captures the airy nature of the scene, as it takes place atop a bridge, with his delicate blues of the water below and sky above as well as the occasional yellow sunlight that shines into some panels. It’s fitting that this fight isn’t obscured in shadowy darkness as it marks the first time that Dick has any sense of clarity on his true nature. It all feels like a breath of fresh air in the best way possible.
Jurgen’s dialogue during the fight itself is a step above the average as well since we finally get to hear Dick reclaim some of his personality. Cobb’s lines are fairly rote by this point and verge on repetitive, but even Dick mentions that the more he hears him talk the more he knows he’s “bad news”. Even still, having Dick talk about how inhibitions, such as refusing to kill, are actually “decency” as he lands blow after blow against Cobb is the most this has felt like a Nightwing book in a long time. Dick’s narration is well written throughout and gives a peek into his mind that slowly remembers who he is. Jurgens’ most effective writing lies in these moments, particularly when Dick falls from a great height but instinctively knows how to move his body to save himself. It’s exciting to see Dick slowly remember who he is, but Jurgens’ prose also does a great job of capturing Dick’s sense of hesitation and bewilderment.
Bea and Hutch also get a few good moments despite their introductory page being an exposition dump to catch readers up on what’s been going on. Even Hutch gets a moment of victory, but as a supporting character, which is how Jurgens should stage most of his action scenes. For the first time in a while, Dick feels like the actual lead in his book, where all the emotion and action occurs through and around him. While Jurgens definitely steers the book more into Dick fully reclaiming his Nightwing mantle, he remains attached to the status quo he helped established. Bea and Dick get a wonderfully drawn scene together as Travis Moore returns for the last few pages of the book. While their interaction is well written and the art incredibly effective in displaying their affection for each other, I can’t help but be disappointed that the many threads of the “Ric” saga don’t seem to be going away any time soon. Nonetheless, with the focus on Dick and his slow return to remembering who he is, the supporting cast is much more palatable.
- You want to see Dick finally begin to remember who he is.
- Travis Moore’s pages make it worth buying for you.
- You don’t mind elements of the “Ric” saga tagging along Dick’s eventual recovery.
Nightwing #68 is the series’ first spark of life in a while. Even though it doesn’t mark the complete end of the “Ric” saga, this chapter makes a significant step forward in returning Dick back to his proper place as Nightwing. For those connected to characters like Hutch and Bea, Jurgens doesn’t completely jettison them from the future of the title and gives them a few good scenes in their own right. Even if Dick doesn’t fully become Nightwing in the next few issues, hopefully Jurgens realizes his success this month is primarily due to the focus on Dick and placing the other Nightwings in a supporting role. With the last two issues being long fight scenes, Jurgens has bought himself some time to slow down next month and examine what lies ahead for Dick.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with this comic for the purpose of this review.