Nightwing #87 features marvelous art dampened slightly by a thin story that is nonetheless tailor fit for the format of the issue. Each page is a double page spread, which are all connected to create one image if placed side by side. While this allows Bruno Redondo and colorist Adriano Lucas to flex their creative muscles, it does result in a script that can never rise above being a fun diversion.
There will be a lot of well-deserved praise for this issue, which I’ll soon join in with, but there are negatives at hand. The main one is its place in the run. We had a six issue arc, which was light on narrative but full of atmosphere, thematic musings, and establishing Blüdhaven as a unique setting. Then we had three Fear State tie-ins, an annual, and now this issue which operates as a one-shot recap of the series while offering very little forward momentum. Simply put, this series needs to actually start. There’s much to love about what Taylor and Redondo have done so far, but I personally value a series that can balance a gripping narrative alongside its artistic showcases.
Now having said that, Nightwing #87 is very much an artistic extravaganza and it’s almost hard to wrap your head around some of the tricks Redondo pulls off. Taylor’s script sets up a simple premise for Redondo to run wild with. There’s a ten million dollar bounty on Dick Grayson’s head after his speech to rejuvenate Blüdhaven and take care of its citizens with his new fortune. Such idealistic actions can never go unpunished in a crime filled city. This sets Dick off on a run through the city to save Haley (aka Bitewing) who is quickly dognapped from his apartment. It’s a cool premise that perfectly fits the “gimmick” of the issue as Redondo can easily track Dick’s movement across space without having to change the composition. There are some pages that heavily rely on perspective to allow Dick to travel further across some pages than others. At one point Dick is given a motorcycle which he uses to travel across a bridge in the distance so the active “plane” does shift a few times, but the overall composition remains static. There’s a page where Dick traverses “toward” the reader and kicks a door down, which made me gasp as we get our first close up look at an interior room. A previous page had Dick enter his apartment, but from far away so the composition was flatter and didn’t allow Dick to move through three-dimensional space.
There are countless techniques Redondo uses to add more depth to what could have been flat images. He has civilians across the street silhouetted at the bottom of some pages to add depth (think Mystery Science Theater 3000) as well as having several civilians on their fire escapes enjoying an average late afternoon in Blüdhaven. A personal favorite small touch are the two men who watch Nightwing fight mobsters on the street, with their pride flag hung over their fire escape (which clearly blocks their neighbor’s windows below). There are tons of little additions to the environment that are fun to look over, though it’s easier to focus on tracking Dick’s movements and dialogue first before letting your eye wander. It’s easy to get confused and see a mobster shooting at nothing if you don’t allow Redondo to guide your eye along the action. The Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine makes an appearance, a man drops a binder full of papers as a top hat wearing mobster fires a machine gun out a van, and a woman (who looks very much like an editor of the book) roller-skates down the sidewalk. Each page is a wonder to look at, even ignoring the sheer technical prowess of having Dick navigate through the environment with nary a hiccup in perspective.
Adriano Lucas’ colors once again are gorgeous, especially in how he delivers contrast between the duller buildings and the brilliant orange sky in the background. The colors also deliver appropriate pop through the city’s civilians whose clothes are often brightly rendered, right alongside the glow of people’s lights spilling through their apartment windows and neon signs that fill the city. Wes Abbott’s letters are also paramount to being able to track the action accurately between the dialogue and lettered sound effects that often guide the eye.
Nightwing #87 is so fun to look at it’s a shame that the story within didn’t engage me as much. This would be great as an annual or a one-shot in the middle of an arc, but what should be an issue that accelerates the narrative after nearly nine months does ironically pump the brakes despite its artistic energy. Most of the plot based dialogue here restates the current status of Dick and his mission to create a safety net for those in Blüdhaven and the dognapping plot is resolved by the last page. It’s good to know that Dick has put a target on his back and I love that Dick acknowledges that putting himself out in the open as Dick Grayson has put those he loves in danger (like Bitewing). Beyond that, the appeal of this issue lies in the art, so for anyone who is expecting more than a fun diversion will be a little disappointed.
- This is a perfect issue to pick up physically as it relies heavily on double page spreads and operates as a recap of the series to date.
- You’ve been anxiously waiting for the series to return to Blüdhaven.
- A lack of true narrative progression doesn’t bother you.
Nightwing #87 makes a name for itself due to the sheer amount of technical prowess in the art courtesy of Bruno Redondo. Tom Taylor’s script sets up a simple premise that allows Redondo to showcase his abilities and largely stays out of his way beyond that. The small narrative scale proves a little irksome, but fans of the series will love getting an even better sense of Blüdhaven and its civilians, as well as seeing Dick save his puppy from mobsters with guns and top hats.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.