Nightwing #78 has a clear goal in mind. Tom Taylor sets up a compelling status quo that effectively leaves the “Ric Saga” in the past and even downplays some recent events such as “Joker War”. There’s a lot of maneuvering in the script that’s largely hidden by Taylor’s adept ability to imbue heart into the most simplistic of scenarios. Although this newfound sense of optimism in the series is refreshing and Bruno Redondo’s art perfectly captures Nightwing’s charm, some readers may be left wanting by the lack of a true hook in its final pages.
Right from the start, Taylor establishes that this series has its eyes set on a clear distinction between kindness and evil, even if both paths lead to fistfights. The script opens with a flashback where, by chance, a young Barbara and Dick both come to the aid of a young boy being bullied by a group of wealthy Gotham teens. Dick narrates his distaste of bullies and those who use their means to hurt others, rather than help them. There’s a clear line drawn in the sand, and it’s nice to have the book simplify the fight between good and evil early, especially coming after the “Ric Saga’s” inclination to cast the world in shades of grey. While I’m sure motivations will become more complex as the series progresses, this is a great place to start. Bruno Redondo’s pencils and Adriano Lucas’ colors embrace this lighter tone as well, resulting in clean and vivid art. Facial work is precise, with clear emotion in every panel even in wider compositions where detail is less evident. Redondo’s compositions when the fighting starts are simple, yet effective due to dynamic figure work that carries weight with each strike.
Lucas’ colors are fantastic as well. To my eye, bright and bold color choices fit Nightwing perfectly and help distinguish the series from other Gotham based tales, which tend to be very dark and gritty. A two page spread, which shows Dick leap from a crane, silhouetted by a gorgeous sunset is a perfect encapsulation of both Dick’s optimism and grace. Even when things get a little dire (who ever likes seeing a group of bullies kick a puppy?), Taylor wisely follows it up immediately with some levity and allows Redondo to draw a lovely, and large panel of Nightwing in all his glory. Even the distressed puppy looks up at him in awe. There’s a good sense of humor throughout too, which helps smooth over seeing a letterman jacket clad teen pull a gun on a dog. Dick plainly saying “I’m not letting you shoot a puppy in the head-“ is funny. Less funny is further elaboration about how the dog would have amnesia and end up driving a cab like “Ric”. I can’t tell if I’m supposed to laugh or groan.
While most of Dick’s action sequences revolve around small scale fights against bullies, Blockbuster appears to be one of the series’ main antagonists. His usage in Seeley’s run was great as his personality was brash and fun, which made his turns to ultra violence all the more shocking. Here, Taylor frames him as much more broody, which Redondo and Lucas enhance all the more with heavy inks and shadows making him appear sinister throughout. I don’t think this take is quite as fun, but it works if you don’t mind a more “Kingpin” like approach to the character. There’s another villain I’ll talk about later due to spoilers, but their inclusion is more intriguing.
Minor nitpicks aside, the core heart of the issue deals with Dick and his relationship to Barbara, and in particular, Alfred. Like I said before, Taylor is able to wring an intense amount of emotion out of these legacy characters, using both their history and status quo to do so. While fans of Dick and Barbara will get some mileage out of their tender scene together, cast in gorgeous pink and red hues, the real tearjerker comes in the form of a letter from Alfred to Dick. While I can see the practical reason for the letter (it gives Dick Grayson access to money once again), it’s hard to not feel Taylor tug at your heartstrings as both the reader and Dick read Alfred’s farewell. If nothing else, Taylor perfectly sets up the general tone and atmosphere of the series to come, even if the issue feels like a clean up job instead of delivering a gripping narrative.
- Tom Taylor is one of your favorite writers.
- You’ve been wanting a return to a more optimistic Nightwing series.
- A more vibrant, colorful comic is something you’ve been wanting out of a bat family book.
Nightwing #78 is a return to form for the series. While the actual narrative is vague, Tom Taylor gracefully sets up his intention for a more optimistic take on the titular character. With gorgeous art from Bruno Redondo and a much needed splash of vibrancy courtesy of Adriano Lucas’ colors, it’s hard to imagine most fans of Nightwing being disappointed with this fresh start. I only hope the overarching narrative takes shape sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.