Nightwing #93 is frustrating in that it’s so good that I question why Tom Taylor waited so long to finally turn up the heat in his core narrative. While last month’s issue got some praise in returning its focus to Blüdhaven, this issue doubles down by delivering great action and using that momentum to create the type of message a Nightwing book should carry.
The book wisely picks up right where Taylor left off with Heartless confronting Blockbuster in his own building office. While the way it plays out was a little disappointing, the tension and story telling is a beautiful example of a writer and artist in perfect sync with each other. Every panel in the opening page stresses the sheer size advantage Blockbuster has over Heartless, even when a wider shot reveals all the goons Heartless took out on his way up to Blockbuster himself. It’s smart to play up Blockbuster’s immense size, while also demonstrating Heartless’ own physical capabilities. What’s even smarter is the page turn to a two page spread that lets the two characters walk along the city skyline as they discuss Blüdhaven’s future. The two-page spread allows Bruno Redondo to draw this conversation against Blockbuster’s view from his penthouse as Heartless makes an offer to buy Blüdhaven outright. This is received as well as you’d imagine and there’s yet another fantastic page turn when Blockbuster takes a swing at Heartless. Even though Redondo draws Heartless in a defensive pose, his hand holding back Blockbuster’s giant fist is a great way to capture Heartless’ fighting prowess without disempowering Blockbuster. Nonetheless, the way it ends is a little weird as Heartless lets his guard down a little too much for credibility and finds himself knocked out the window. I was interested in seeing these two team up to take down Nightwing, but having two villains who are at odds with each other does open up some interesting possibilities.
The real meat of this chapter lies with Dick attempting to salvage a rough start to his Haven project due to the property damage done at the hands of Blockbuster’s men last issue (which there is a nice twist to). As Dick attempts to clean up some graffiti from the Alfred statue, corrupt policemen arrive and take shots at him. While I had my problems with how Taylor approached the political angle of the series before, this change in dynamic feels much more in line with the series’ overall message. Dick as a philanthropist millionaire with somewhat vague goals other than helping the downtrodden was fine for the most part. However, Dick literally fighting against corrupt institutions (instead of creating an institution himself) is much more engaging and a more apt way to tackle these themes in a superhero comic. Even the humor is more biting than ever as Dick takes down a few cops while asking them whether or not his cloth or bucket (used to clean up graffiti) was a bigger threat to them. What made moments of Taylor’s first arc on the series a little hard to buy into was that Dick’s newfound wealth gave the impression that one good guy with money can solve everything wrong with a city. A somewhat “pie in the sky” atmosphere ran rampant throughout the series as Dick and Barbara winked and smiled their way through cleaning up Blüdhaven’s streets via outreach programs. However, Taylor wisely reminds readers that no amount of goodwill will inspire or change the ways of the truly corrupt.
Redondo’s action chops are on full display once Dick leads the cops on a bike chase. There’s one brilliant panel of a wide shot that tracks Dick running behind a set of bushes, then emerging on a motorcycle with a biker jacket. A key skill Redondo nails multiple times in the issue is having great page turns with a big impactful panel waiting for readers. As Dick drives his motorcycle straight ahead into a swarm of cop cars, he shoots a grapple hook and, on the page turn, swings his bike from a bridge to a nearby rooftop. The sense of flow from one panel (and page) to the next is impeccably accomplished. Adriano Lucas’ colors remain effective as ever, making the series easy on the eyes with a great color palette. Lucas also knows when to leave a background blank, such as when Dick gets on his motorcycle, which keeps the focus on the visual gag. Wes Abbott’s letters have a few tricks too. I particularly like how the BANG sound effects from the cops’ guns stretch out and track the bullets’ movement as they whiz past Nightwing. Lastly, before getting into spoilers, Dick and Barbara do share a tender moment where Dick lets the word “love” escape from his lips that is sure to make certain fans do a backflip. I’m at a point where I want an entire issue dedicated to Dick and Barbara’s relationship (I would forgive a lack of plot progression in that case), but this drip fed love story still has time to blossom.
- You enjoy seeing corrupt institutions taken down a peg.
- A showdown between Heartless and Blockbuster appeals to you.
- You’re all in on Taylor refocusing on his core Blüdhaven narrative.
Nightwing #93 delivers everything one could want from the series. The stage has been set and now Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo get to deliver thrilling action and promising twists in the battle for Blüdhaven’s soul. The craft on display in both the art and writing have never been higher and anyone who has been following the series til now owes it to themself to stay aboard for this arc.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.