Nightwing #83 snaps the series back into focus, armed with a great action sequence, tender moments between Dick and others, and an ending that finally solidifies a direction for the series. While I can’t shake a sense of fan service that permeates through the book, Taylor and Redondo execute their vision with ample precision and care.
After last month’s flashback heavy issue, Taylor’s script picks up right from the cliffhanger, with Blockbuster and a squad of crooked police ready to apprehend Dick. In terms of action sequences, this is by far the strongest one in the series so far. Bruno Redondo’s clean layouts and expressive figure work is on full display here. Blockbuster’s brute strength as he kicks in doors and smashes through windows is palpable due to Redondo’s compositions and figure work. The panel where Blockbuster kicks down a door is slightly canted, but his body is still upright, which hints at the power his legs have all on their own. When Blockbuster walks through a window, the glass and window frame explode away from him and a wall he grips for leverage cracks beneath his power. Redondo does a great job of making Blockbuster a truly formidable physical threat, even if his sheer size looks comical in certain compositions.
Beyond the artistic strengths of the opening action sequence, it’s the first time Taylor’s script has fully meshed the intimate stakes of the narrative with the outside forces that want to take Nightwing down. Before this, most of the action dealt with random street crime or Heartless (whose place in the main narrative wasn’t clear until this issue), so the stakes feel higher than ever before. Taylor’s script reunites Dick with his long lost sister, Melinda, only to immediately rip them apart and force them to hide their presumed alliance. At this point, I’m willing to accept Melinda as a true ally to Dick and that her mission to take down Blüdhaven’s organized crime is genuine. Do I necessarily think the Bat family needs another member? No, I don’t, but within the confines of this series I think there’s a lot of potential within Dick and Melinda’s shaky alliance. There’s one panel in particular that’s absolutely wonderful in crafting a sense of familial bond between Dick and Melina because of Redondo’s exemplary facial “acting” prowess. Melinda looks up at Dick, with a soft smile of admiration as she teases him, while he looks down with the smallest amount of hesitancy as he is still trying to determine if she’s lying. Taylor and Redondo do know how to tug on the heartstrings, especially in smaller moments like this.
Despite whatever hesitations I have about Melinda being Dick’s sister, the subsequent showdown between Blockbuster and Dick is a true feast for the eyes. Redondo does a really clean two page spread that smartly delivers a compelling conversation between Dick and Blockbuster, while still featuring a great action beat in the center of the spread. While the fight ultimately amounts to one swing from Blockbuster, it’s wise to keep Blockbuster and Dick at a distance for now to keep the tension rising over the long term. In past issues, Dick had help from his allies in his fights, but here he takes on an armed helicopter by himself in an action beat that’s suitably heroic for the character. Instead of running away from machine gun fire, he runs towards it to lessen any collateral damage to civilians. The art team pulls out all the stops here. Adriano Lucas’ colors don’t disappoint with his striking red and purple sky bouncing light off of Blockbuster’s suit while Dick’s iconic costume stands in nice contrast to everything around him. Wes Abbott’s letters also solidify some of the action beats’ impact from the looser “BRRRT” of a machine gun to the tighter “THD” and “TNK” of its bullets hitting concrete. Does Dick throwing himself right at a volley of machine gun fire strain credibility? Sure, but it’s a superhero book and it looks cool.
The second half of the issue isn’t quite as strong, but its heart is in the right place. We get another few scenes of Dick trying to figure out the best way to use his newfound wealth to help those in need. I feel like we’ve gotten this conversation a few times already, but it’s hard to deny the charm of Superman telling Dick he’s always looked up to Alfred and how the world would have been lost if it weren’t for Alfred raising a generation of heroes. There’s a panel where Dick and Superman talk through Dick’s plan with them both seated on the top of the Daily Planet building, with its iconic globe behind them. I find the image of the world’s most powerful man and a millionaire discussing how to improve the world, in front of a literal globe, to be slightly ominous, but it is a striking image. Then there’s a scene between Dick and Barbara that will make some fans happy, and others not so much. Reader fandom will determine if they like the turn Dick and Barbara’s relationship takes or not.
Lastly, we hear Dick’s plan, which to be honest wasn’t all that inspirational. I’ve discussed my apprehensions toward the books’ political messaging before, but nothing in Dick’s speech was all that endearing. I’m projecting some real world apprehension toward a fictional millionaire with a nice speech, but that’s what happens when you make social statements in a comic book. Someone tell Dick about Universal Basic Income for crying out loud! Despite my political jadedness, I can’t deny my grinch heart grew ever so slightly when Batman calls Dick to tell him he made Alfred proud. Taylor’s character work is great, but his big picture statements are less convincing. Taylor can prove me wrong though if he really focuses on this new “Alfred Pennyworth Foundation” and its inner workings. However, I fear it won’t do much to distinguish itself from the numerous foundations Bruce himself has already set up. The Waynes using their fortune to help the impoverished isn’t a new idea.
- The aesthetic beauty of the book is more than enough to pick it up.
- Tom Taylor’s sentimental approach doesn’t turn you away.
- Tender moments between Bat family members is something you want more of.
Nightwing #83 is the strongest issue of the series so far. While the book lays on the schmaltz more than my taste can handle at times, there’s no denying the high level of craft on display. I personally find myself unconvinced by the larger social themes Taylor plays with, but the book’s heart is in the right place and that’s enough for now. Fans of the series to this point will not be disappointed.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.