Nightwing #75 isn’t the issue I wanted it to be. With Dick Grayson finally restored with his memories, I wanted Dan Jurgens to hit the ground running and leave behind the remnants of the “Ric saga”. Unfortunately, Jurgens writes Dick as unsure of his next steps, even keeping him out of his Nightwing costume for a lot of the issue. There’s too much navel-gazing here and even the rare treat of interior art by Travis Moore can’t fully spring Nightwing #75 from the trap of a backwards looking plot line.

Travis Moore’s art opens the book and it’s an absolute pleasure to see him do interior pages. Beyond the pure aesthetic beauty of his pencils, Moore is a great storyteller even when he’s saddled with most of the quieter scenes. His clean and simple panel layouts fit perfectly with his softer rendition of Dick himself but also of Garth and Donna Troy as they come pay a visit. I can see an argument that Moore’s art makes Dick look a little too young and boyish, but I think the sheer youthful vibe of the pencils is more than worth it. However, this opening scene does represent an overall problem I have with Jurgens’ script. Dick’s narration indicates his hesitance to choose his next path since he feels tethered down by his past, even his time with the Titans. My fears are justified when Dick tells Garth and Troy that even though his memories are back it “doesn’t mean Nightwing is”. I can’t imagine this is what any fan of the series wants to hear but most importantly, this inability to move forward doesn’t feel justified. The series beforehand made the goal clear. Once Dick retains his memories that should be all that’s needed for him to fully reclaim his rightful place as Nightwing. Now that we’re here, it’s a bit of a whiplash for Dick to suddenly claim further doubts.

Credit: Travis Moore, Nick Filardi, Andworld Design

Ronan Cliquet resumes his art duties in this issue as well and the shift from Moore’s uniquely beautiful work does expose some of Cliquet’s shortcomings. Even though I’m largely a fan of his work, Cliquet’s pencils don’t carry the same polish even if his storytelling prowess is largely similar. He does stack vertical panels on the left side of a page which I never like, but besides that, Cliquet’s layouts, particularly in the action, are dynamic and exciting. A panel where KGBeast stands tall above several victims drips with power and drama as he’s backlit and glows above his foes. Even if this scene is technically sound, I do question Jurgens’ decision to look backward to a plot point that most people didn’t like. KGBeast having a chance to “redeem” himself isn’t worth dredging up bad memories for both Dick and the readers, even if he is an intimidating foe.

Jurgens does use a light frame to the story as it roughly takes place over a week with each new scene taking place on a different day, but it doesn’t really lead to much beyond a small flash of style. If anything, it heightens the issue’s slight sense of repetition as different members of the bat family each take their shot at convincing Dick to return to his old ways. There’s an interesting dilemma in that Barbara and Bruce think the only way for Dick to move on is to reclaim his old mantle, whereas Dick feels a yearning to retain some aspects he encountered as Ric – namely Bea. I’m glad to see Bea is still playing a major part in Jurgens’ story, but I will not shed a tear to see the other Nightwings – Hutch, Zak, Colleen, and Sap – return to their rightful places in law enforcement and firefighting. The other Nightwings were largely irrelevant in recent arcs, so it’s no surprise Jurgens appears to be moving on from them. However, their final scene is a worthy farewell to these characters even if Jurgens leaves room for their return. A brief scene where Dick imagines spending time with Alfred is a real tear jerker even if it’s a bit of a cheat. I don’t necessarily mind “ghost” visions to allow a character to talk out loud, but the advice Alfred offers essentially boils down to believe in yourself. Still, seeing Dick cry as he remembers treating Alfred like a stranger the last time they saw each other is a sure fire way to elicit some melodrama. The moment where Moore transitions Dick’s tearful vision with Alfred back to reality with Bruce in the rain is great storytelling.

Credit: Travis Moore, Nick Filardi, Andworld Design

The truly essential drama emerges when Dick talks to Bea for the first time since he got his memories back. This is the best part of the book and I’m glad to see Jurgens doesn’t seem to be moving on from Bea and Dick’s relationship just yet. Travis Moore gets to draw this sequence which is a wise choice as he excels at these quieter moments with his fantastic character “acting” and layouts that let his pencils do the talking. It’s a great scene, with a mature mindset that never feels forced or out of place. It never completely veers into melodrama since Bea’s explanation of her doubts about their relationship makes complete sense. In fact, this scene justifies Dick’s internal dilemma as both he and Bea see his return to Nightwing being the potential end of their relationship. I almost wish this scene took place earlier as it gives context for why Dick is not jumping at the chance to return as Nightwing. There’s even a bit of levity when Dick pedantically clarifies he’s not actually part of the Justice League when Bea’s questions whether people in the league can ever be truly vulnerable. If there’s something that remains from the “Ric saga”, Bea is the best option. The cliffhanger is a bit of a disappointment since it reduces this thoughtful dramatic scene into a traditional action climax, but the stakes are appropriately high even if it feels like the easy way out.

Spoiler
KGBeast taking Bea hostage is a totally fine cliffhanger, but it does seem to set the stage for a simple ending for their relationship. I don’t see Bea actually dying, but this ending signals a traditional “I can’t be with the person I love in order to protect them” scenario. Dick will probably save Bea and tell her his life is too dangerous for her to be in. If the story goes a different direction, I’m happy to eat my words, but the set up seems evident.

Recommended if…

  • You don’t mind Dick Grayson’s return marred with a little bit of hesitancy.
  • Bea’s relationship with Dick is something you’re invested in.
  • Travis Moore doing interior art is a treat you can’t pass up.

Overall

Nightwing #75 is beset by a surprising amount of hesitancy to fully dive back into Dick being Nightwing. While his relationship with Bea is a believable reason for Dick to be scared to fully return to his old life, Jurgens’ script definitely looks backward more than forward. Travis Moore’s interior art is a sight to behold, though I wish he got more action scenes to draw, and Ronan Cliquet turns in quality pencils as per usual. It’s only Jurgens’ script that gives me pause due to its repetitive and wishy washy depiction of Dick Grayson. The sooner the series moves past the remnants of the “Ric saga’ the better, but Bea’s continued inclusion is more than welcomed.

Score: 7/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.