Nightwing #95 review

Nightwing #95 is a shining example of playing into the strengths of the superhero comic medium. There’s a healthy dose of high stakes action and fun cameos, while still maintaining the series’ emotional integrity. Tom Taylor’s script make this delicate balance look effortless, as do Bruno Redondo’s exquisite pencils.

Taylor’s latest scripts deliver a high level of intensity while still maintaining a sense of humor. The opening sequence has Melinda Zucco post-electrocution, waking up to find herself held captive, awaiting Blockbuster’s arrival. Redondo draws the sequence from Melinda’s point of view with the first panel pure black while subsequent panels “open her eyes” to see Brutale squint and tilt his head as he examines her. This off-kilter opening, while somewhat eerie, results in a hilarious turn to a two page spread as Nightwing kicks his way in through the door. It’s fun to see lower tier villains like Brutale get a moment in the spotlight, but it’s even more satisfying to see them disempowered and knocked out with ease. Redondo’s dynamic poses let a simple flying kick deliver the appropriate impact, letting Taylor dispose of Blockbuster’s goons without wasting much time on them. Taylor and Redondo have a firm grasp on easily shifting tones from serious to comedic. They pull off a similar maneuver immediately afterward as a page turn reveals Blockbuster, imposingly silhouetted as he stands in the way of Dick’s rescue of Melinda. The next page has him immediately hit by a car. This sort of cutting off the tension can grow irritating if overused, but Taylor wisely keeps this technique limited to the opening pages.

Credit: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, Wes Abbott

Another aspect that works really well is Taylor still keeping parts of the Blüdhaven Police Department corrupt despite Maggie Sawyer’s presence. Ex-Commissioner Maclean finds himself in custody, thinking his blackmail against Blockbuster will be enough to grant him full immunity. While Redondo’s action scenes are always fantastic, he also nails Maclean’s smug demeanor as he leans back in his chair with both hands resting behind his head. A slight smirk is enough to complete the image and Redondo perfectly captures Maclean’s personality so the dialogue doesn’t have to carry all the weight. Redondo’s character designs are also subtly dynamic. Maclean is smug and relaxed in his body language, but his interrogator wears glasses with mirrored lenses that don’t let us see his eyes, hinting at his deceptiveness. It’s no surprise how this scene plays out once Maclean admits he has enough documents to take Blockbuster down with him if he’s granted immunity. However, Redondo’s delicate character work makes the sequence dynamic even with minimal movement.

Credit: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, Wes Abbott

Halfway through the issue is when Taylor cranks up the fan service with a surplus of cameos. First among them is Batwoman, whose romantic history with Maggie gives her introduction scene some tension. Now that Dick has some members of the Blüdhaven Police Department to trust, he can finally bring the fight to Blockbuster and take down some of his most profitable illegal activities. Afterward, there is a stylish montage that shows Dick and his allies simultaneously take down four different operations that Blockbuster has set for the day. I won’t name who shows up, but the series has never had so many guest characters arrive all at once. It’s a very thrilling sequence with Redondo’s two page spread depicting all four battles at once being a highlight. If there’s any problem with the sequence, it’s that Taylor has had so many characters show up to help Dick in the past, which makes this big moment feel more routine than it should be. However, we had a few issues of Dick mostly tackling obstacles with just him and Barbara, so bringing back his extended family and friends for one big sequence is mostly earned. Adriano Lucas’ colors are great throughout the issue, but the colors on the two page spread are particularly noteworthy as each location has its own color palette, without making the entire composition clash too much. He eases from pale red, to blue, to back to a darker red that makes the colors more of a gradient across the page instead of four vastly different looks.

Credit: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, Caio Filipe, Wes Abbott

The final pages are a bit perfunctory, with a cliffhanger that feels inevitable instead of truly shocking, but the sheer drama of the sequence makes up for it. Even still, the series’ core narrative has never been so intense and full of momentum until these last few issues. While Blockbuster’s attacks on Haven might be more impactful if I had a better view of daily life within Haven itself, it’s hard to deny the excitement of a fiery showdown in a burning library. It truly feels like all of the cards are on the table now, and I’m eager to see how Taylor wraps up the battle for Blüdhaven.

Spoiler
The main issue with Blockbuster discovering Nightwing’s secret identity is that Blockbuster has already had it out for Dick Grayson this whole time. I’m not sure what this reveal really does to change the stakes of the series, but it’s fun to have all the characters now aware of each other’s true allegiances.

Recommended if…

  • You don’t mind a surplus of cameos with fan favorite characters.
  • Taylor’s focus on action and spectacle doesn’t detract from the series’ character work.
  • The final page cliffhanger is enough to keep you coming back for more.

Overall

Nightwing #95 is a thrilling and expertly drawn issue from Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo. There is a definite emphasis on action and spectacle in these past few issues, but Taylor’s slower pace beforehand makes this change of pace work. While some of the fan service moments can be overdone, it’s hard to deny how entertaining it is to finally see Dick turn the tables on Blockbuster and his cronies. The series is as focused as ever at this point and Taylor has set himself up well for the inevitable climax coming in the next months.

Score: 9/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.