Nightwing #88 slows down the pace from the previous chapter of the “Get Grayson” arc, which allows Tom Taylor’s script to recalibrate the current threat Dick faces. While last month’s issue was light on plot, leaving Bruno Redondo to treat readers to a visual feast, this chapter feels more like the opening of an arc with an inundation of both plot twists and character appearances.
Just to start, the concept of Dick Grayson being the main target on several assassin hit lists is a great premise that allows each scene to carry a degree of tension. The boundary between Dick and Nightwing is increasingly thin, with both of these identities at risk of being attacked at any moment. Now, this added layer of tension doesn’t radically change the atmosphere of the series, but I do appreciate even a slight uptick in more tangible narrative stakes. Nonetheless, Redondo and Adriano Lucas maintain their bright, energetic aesthetic that makes each page look like a world you’d want to live in. While Lucas’ colors remain impactful as ever, Redondo’s pencils appear rougher than normal, particularly in how he draws faces. Early pages with Barbara make her features look sharper than usual, with clunky eyebrows adding a different shape to her face. Other panels remove most of the definition of her nose, leaving only nostrils behind, which makes her features even more severe looking. A few close-up panels reveal similar issues with Dick as he makes a dockside speech where he breaks ground on his “Haven” for the homeless. These problems don’t persist throughout the issue however, leaving the vast majority of Redondo’s pages as delightful as ever.
The opening pages recap Dick’s current mission to “lift every single person in Blüdhaven up” as well showing Blockbuster arrange another attempt on Dick’s life. It’s a nice two page refresher after last month’s chapter, which didn’t leave much of a cliffhanger for this chapter to pick up from. We get flickers of intrigue with Barbara keeping an apparent secret from Dick before he arrives, breakfast in hand for the crew. Almost every decision Dick makes in the book is in an attempt to serve others around him, which shows that Taylor truly does understand the character’s core appeal. Dick even decides to make another public appearance even though he’s fully aware there’s a target on his back. The only thing that worries him is Barbara’s decision to accompany him.
What follows is a public speech that goes exactly how any comic reader will guess; assassins try to kill Dick Grayson. I am getting a little weary of reading Dick’s countless inspirational speeches and almost wish there was a small time skip where his plans are already being constructed. There’s nothing wrong with Taylor’s decision to keep the pace where it is now, but I do worry it’ll take years to see the results of Dick’s philanthropy. As it stands, Dick is in early stages of actually building these plans of his, but a more compelling angle could lie with Dick’s struggles of upholding the end results. Whatever the case may be, Dick immediately finds himself dodging bullets from a pair of assassins, Gunhawk and Gunbunny. These villains offer a degree of levity to a public assassination attempt with their colorful outfits and devotion to each other. While Dick is not going to get killed by a pair of tacky 90s villains, Taylor does use this as an opportunity to show off Dick’s numerous allies. The Titans make another appearance in the series, but this time they get involved in the action rather than just offering advice.
The subsequent action sequences are simplistic, but Redondo’s renditions of the Titans (Starfire and Donna Troy in particular) are so slickly rendered that it’s hard to complain. The art team once again captures a sense of vibrant energy that few other books even attempt. Lucas’ colors get a chance to unleash themselves when the entire Titans team arrives. Andworld Design’s letters also never make a misstep among the bevy of characters on the page, mixing in dialogue and radio chatter together with expert precision. Unfortunately, when the Titans do arrive, the action quickly devolves into snapshot territory, with Redondo more interested in crafting flashy splash pages instead of sequential action choreography. I’ll always prefer the latter approach, but once again Taylor’s devotion to fan service will satisfy most readers. I don’t mean to imply fan service is inherently a bad thing, but I will say that previous runs on the series did a great job of building out supporting casts full of new (or obscure) characters. Taylor’s approach so far has been more so in the vein of playing the hits.
Also of note is Mister Terrific’s gift of a new suit to Dick (featuring finger stripes) thin enough to wear under his clothes. I’m more interested in seeing how that plays into the plot more-so than minute changes to a costume, but people seem to be excited by this redesign. Less compelling is the cliffhanger, which once again finds Heartless circling on the periphery of relevance. After his brawl with Dick earlier in the series, his mystique has largely vanished. And while Blockbuster’s attempts on Dick Grayson’s life are now out in the open, random assassination attempts don’t carry much tension unless Blockbuster himself is down in the trenches.
- You’ve been waiting for more tangible stakes in the series.
- Seeing Nightwing and the Titans fight side by side is enough to get your wallet open.
- You don’t mind a more traditional issue after last month’s artistic tour de force.
Nightwing #88 is an entertaining issue with an adrenaline shot of action the series has desperately needed. While I appreciate Taylor’s scripts ramping up the tension, the constant fan service often defangs situations that should be harder to overcome. A defenseless Dick Grayson with a target on his back is a great premise for an arc. It’s a little less compelling when his group of superhero friends keeps showing up.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.