By Tim Seeley, Marcus To, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M Mangual
Following (the new/old) Superman’s advice, Dick Grayson has moved to Bludhaven in order to reestablish himself as a hero and a man. As these things go, Dick has had to adjust to life in a new city with new friends and enemies…
Someone is targeting retired supervillains for work and “No” is not an acceptable answer. Dick, in uniform and out, has made it his mission to save the neglected souls of Bludhaven in the form of at-risk youth and former career criminals. In this context, Tim Seeley gets to display Dick’s empathy as a defining characteristic. While the book starts out with a murder, Nightwing’s main concern is the people that could be harmed next. Such a concern would be second to his mentor Batman, who would be mainly focused on finding the killer. Nightwing is no great detective, he starts at the scene of the crime and moves backward to find a motive by gathering information. Doing so introduces him to reluctant allies such as the Run-Offs, those who turned away from a life of crime but struggle to walk the straight-and-narrow. Since former criminals are being targeted and killed, the police are unmotivated to prevent the crimes and causally pin suspicion on the closest name in criminal records. Nightwing sees the folly in this, knowing that someone is moving behind the scenes and using these people for their own ends. Bludhaven may not be Gotham, but they could be cousins in corruption.
Most of the action in this issue is reserved for the climax at the end between Nightwing and Killer Orca, a giant woman spliced with Killer Whale DNA. The rest of the issue is mainly dialogue, giving artist Marcus To a challenge. His storytelling and clean linework are more than enough to keep the reader invested as our hero tries to protect those that society has given up on. To and colorist Chris Sotomayor use a subdued, cool palette to portray Bludhaven as a city that glows at night and simmers in the daylight. Nightwing bounces and weaves through the air like a rubber bullet, but has to slow down when talking to normal humans or fighting someone six times his size and strength. Together with Seeley’s script, To and Sotomayor make this book feel like another chapter for Nightwing at the height of his publication without feeling like an imitation of those times.
In many ways, Bludhaven may be seen as a city for the exploited. The tourism department is keen on using Nightwing’s presence to draw in revenue and the rest of the city (including Nightwing) seem to be under someone else’s thumb. It presents an interesting dilemma for Dick Grayson who came to Bludhaven to focus on himself but instead, spends his entire time looking out for others.
These tiny touches give the book more personality and distinguish it from the other Bat-books. Much like it’s predecessor Grayson, Nightwing is brimming with good character work and an entertaining cast. Just as Nightwing and his frienemies think they’ve caught the masterminds behind everything, they turn out to be more cogs in the machine.
This is a series that works mainly by not taking the character too far from what worked in the past or bowing to continuity till the book collapses. It knows how the character works, and what the book wants to be. It gladdens me to see Seeley is still working on this character that he, Tom King, and Mikel Janin revamped and revitalized scant years ago. It truly does feel like a Rebirth for Nightwing, as if he’s come home and found himself again after so much wandering.