If there’s anything noteworthy about Nightwing Annual #3 is that readers finally get to see the titular character in all his glory. Now of course we only get that privilege since the majority of this issue is a flashback, but it’s nonetheless a very welcome sight. That’s where the positive aspects of this annual end. Writer Dan Jurgens uses this chapter to fill in a gap that no reader knew existed and few will find enlightening or interesting. With “Joker War” looming, Jurgens is obligated to be in set up mode, but the heavy focus on the Condors results in yet another group whose sole purpose is to make Dick into something he’s not.
There’s two timelines at play here. The frame story takes place immediately after Dick’s short-lived stint as Talon where he nearly killed Condor Red. The first wrinkle here is interesting enough as the Condors realize that the Talon they fought was not only an impostor, but maybe even Nightwing himself. This allows the real meat of the story play out as the Condors review old footage they have of Nightwing to analyze his moves and compare them to Talon’s. The initial excitement of seeing Dick back in his Nightwing costume is palpable and only proves further to me that the prolonged “Ric” saga has robbed readers of more focused Nightwing tales. It’s a shame that Jurgens’ dialogue here is not his strongest. I love a good quippy Nightwing, but the banter here falls flat as he gives our villains, the “Blood Nights”, a grammar lesson on how to pronounce “Blüdhaven” with a variety of different spellings. Distinguishing linguistics is not exactly the type of humor that leaps off the page.
Even Inaki Miranda’s rendition of Nightwing feels a little off to me. Dick is obviously extremely physically fit, but Miranda’s Nightwing is built more like a tank in certain panels, with his muscular anatomy straining credibility. Some figure poses are wonky as well, with certain limbs bending in odd directions, or Nightwing’s sense of movement not entirely clear. The action beats don’t flow sequentially which puts more weight on dynamic poses to sell the blows. Unfortunately, the lettered sound effects by Andworld Design are placed and rendered in a way that doesn’t embolden the punches and kicks. It all feels anemic. The pieces are on the page, but not assembled in a way that creates a dynamic and fun action scene. However, Nick Filardi’s colors are strong as usual and breathe a lot of life into the environments and character designs in these scenes.
The energy does rise when Condor Red arrives to help Nightwing and shows the potential of the two of them working together. The action becomes clearer and more inventive, the dialogue bounces well between Nightwing, Condor Red, and the other Condors back at base, and the more subtle themes come to light. If there’s one main takeaway from this issue, it’s that the different methods between the Condors and Nightwing are ripe for drama, even if the conflict between hi-tech and…lower tech (at least relatively speaking) has been done before. It’s a rocky first half, but there was enough twists and turns to make it work.
Unfortunately, the script reaches a standstill when Dick finds himself at the Condor base with their leader, Jacqueline Hale, giving him a rundown of exactly who they are. The Condors are in “the monitoring business”, which essentially amounts to them being spies, although with a normally less hands on approach. I don’t think the addition of the Condors is the worst development to Jurgens’ run, but everything about them screams stale. Their base is your average hi-tech design with its sterile pale blue and gray palette and doesn’t feature much detail to make it feel like a lived in home base. The only touch of character in the environment is the few bench presses that sit unattended in the Condors training room. In what aims to be a fresh, exciting new addition to Jurgens’ run ultimately results in a been there, done that environment.
Hale’s dialogue is also questionable as nearly every remark she makes toward Dick is laced with sexual innuendo which is capped off by her smacking him on the butt. Dick Grayson’s rear end has been given iconic status by now, but this sort of overt flirting works better with characters that have known Dick for a longer amount of time. This feels like out of place fan service rather than an actual character development. Speaking of lacking character development, Blockbuster also plays a part in this annual but the simplicity of his “kill Nightwing” plot line betrays the intelligence that scripts normally afford this villain. The script does a good job of bringing all the pieces together in the final action climax, but Dick’s repetitive push back against technology and joining the Condors grows tiresome by the end of the issue. It’s a one-note back and forth that ends up as nothing but a shaky promise that the Condors will play a part in things to come.
- Seeing Nightwing back in action is worth the price alone for you.
- The increased involvement of the Condors piques your interest.
- With the Joker War looming, it’s worth a read if you want to know all the pieces currently in play.
Nightwing Annual #3 is worth purchasing only for die hard fans of the series. Getting to see Nightwing back in action is great, but the story itself doesn’t match that excitement. The Condors have the opportunity to grow into a interesting ally/potential threat, but their current status as outside observers kneecaps any potential to grow as of now. For completionists, the book is worth the extra dollar, but overall this chapter feels like a deleted scene that no one needed to see and whose relevance is up to speculation.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.