By Tim Seeley, Minkyu Jung, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual
With his city hanging in the balance, and his personal life strained, Dick Grayson must find a way to save both in This Week’s Finest…
Many times I’ve marveled at Seeely’s understanding of Dick Grayson and his corner of the world. He’s able to juggle every aspect of who Dick is, without any of them feeling more important than the rest.
Each one gets touched on in this issue: Dick’s ultimate faith in humanity, his guilt over the high standards he holds himself to, his commitment as a vigilante, and his naivete when those three things collide.
Someone is bringing high-level weapons to the streets of Bludhaven, stuff that like killer androids and energy weapons. While Nightwing tries to curtail all of that, almost single-handedly, his enemies are grouping together to take him out.
Technically, this is the fourth chapter of a story arc, and so recent events inform the plot of here with the reader’s enjoyment. We know from the previous issue that Tiger Shark is the weapons smuggler, who has been keeping his presence in Bludhaven a secret to facilitate said smuggling.
While all of that is going on, Dick is having a tough time with his new girlfriend Shawn, who had a false positive pregnancy test last arc. This issue finally gets around to discussing what that means for their relationship now, as its been looming in the background ever since. Both are relieved they’re not going to be parents so soon after meeting each other, but both have their respective feelings on what their child could have meant. Dick thought he would be a good father figure based on his life choices, someone dedicated to helping others. His girlfriend Shawn, a former costumed criminal called the Defacer, Dick think could teach their child the wrong lessons about life and choices. He may or may not have a point, but Shawn has a better one: he needs something else in his life besides being Nightwing. While its not for money related reasons, Shawn wants Dick to take a job at the Bludhaven docks in order to have some semblance of a normal life. She wants something to keep him connected to Bludhaven besides chasing criminals. Dick for his part, has no time for job interviews when lives are at stake and he’s the only one who can save them.
Minkyu Jung handles the art this issue instead of Javier Fernandez, and while the two have similar styles, their strengths are different. Fernandez excels at frenetic action and innovative panel design. He does the pages that call for the most action and interesting local’s. Jung is great at visual storytelling. This is a less action centric issue, and the dialogue and emotions of the cast are what resonate more than who’s punching harder. The scene where Dick and the new Blockbuster are talking after their fight works because we believe in the moment that Blockbuster is sincere about wanting to stop Tiger Shark. Likewise, the scene where Dick and Shawn get emotionally honest about their almost pregnancy is touching because of how vulnerable Jung is able to convey them with body posture and facial expressions. Combined with Sotomayor’s colors, the series maintains the same “feel” as when Fernandez’s handles the art, but Jung gives it a softer touch at the right moments in this issue.
Blockbuster, of course, betrays Nightwing; faking him out by asking for help only to lure him into Tiger Shark’s trap. Which consists of a dozen or so other DCU villains aboard an abandoned shipping freighter. It makes for a well-rounded issue that delivers thrills and compelling character interaction, both something that the creative team has been delivering with Nightwing consistently since the start.
With its deft character work, and adept storytelling, Nightwing #23 was an easy choice for This Week’s Finest.