By Tim Seeley, Minkyu Jung, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M Mangual, Marcus To
They say it’s better to have loved and lost, rather than never to have loved at all. After moving to Bludhaven, Dick has meet a new woman. By the story’s end, he will have to decide if his feelings were worth the tragic outcome…
DC, and to a large degree the Nightwing crew, continue to impress me with how unconventionally they’re approaching convention. Almost this entire issue deals with Dick and Shawn’s relationship, whether it be their interactions together or them discussing the relationship with their respective friends. It should’ve been a give-away it was going to be cut short by how quickly their love seemed to be established.
I’d be a touch more upset about the abrupt end if Seeley didn’t convince me that Dick and Shawn’s relationship at least felt genuine. There’s a causal approach to it that seems more real than say, Barry Allen announcing his love to Iris West every week. Dick’s brevity about his feelings gives it some verisimilitude; Shawn may or may not be The One but to Dick she’s everything he wants in a girlfriend. Likewise, Shawn appreciates Dick for not focusing on her past as a D-list super-villain. He accepts her for who she is, not who she was. Appropriate, considering Dick’s current job as a social worker for at risk youth.
I’m not familiar with Minkyu Jung’s work besides this issue, but it seems he was part of DC’s talent workshop. If so, it was a good call on DC to take a chance on him. You could almost mistake Jung’s style for Marcus To’s, but they are different. Jung’s style may appear the same in depicting figure and action, but his pencils have a sort of Francis Manapul like texture to them. Jung will be a name to watch going forward to see how he develops and refines his style. Chris Sotomayor’s colors give some well placed continuity between To’s and Jung’s art, so that the change in art doesn’t feel abrupt or overly distracting.
There are some scenes of Dick with the Titans fighting generic baddies, or the classic Wally West cameoing, but this is mostly a quiet issue about a new couple’s relationship. In a mainstream DC comic, let alone one in their Batman line, it stands out as unique because month in and month out we usually see stories like this segmented and compartmentalized over a six issue arc. It’s a nice change of pace having it be the focus and not a B or C plot. Of course it’s not the first issue to do this, but the takeaway here should be “more of this, please”. I’d even prefer if next time there wasn’t any superhero action. With many of DC’s books on a biweekly schedule, it would behoove them to allow the teams to stretch other creative muscles besides what villain is getting punched in the face this week. Then again, if Dick and Shawn’s relationship is indeed over it does sort of diminish the story’s impact in the larger context of the series.
I’d like to see more of Dick and Shawn together, as unlikely as it seems that will happen. Issue #15 is an impressive turnout from the creative team, and a strong showing of how good this run of Nightwing is. It knows the characters, and has the right voice for them.