By Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, Carlos M. Mangual
Once again I find myself in awe of this series. I continue to have barely any interest in Batman, or any of the other Bat-titles, but Dick Grayson’s solo adventures have held my interest for well over three years now. In that time, Tim Seely (with co-writing credit to Tom King on Grayson) has built an impressive tapestry around Richard Grayson. It’s only now that things start to come full circle.
I write a lot about this series, so I don’t want to give the impression that its perfect. It’s not, there’s an issue every so often that doesn’t click with me. A character here does a 180 degree change of mind with no given reason within the plot’s context, seemingly for dramatic purposes. However, in spite of that, I found this single issue otherwise more enjoyable than my other favorite titles.
First up, the art is gorgeous. I have to give Javier Fernandez special props this issue as his break away from the series, while Minkyu Jung filled in, seems to have given him enough lead time to draw page after page of splendor.
Something about his considered camera placement, the level of detail in the panels without filling busy, even the symmetry of design in his wide screen shots impress me throughout. What Mikel Janin was to Grayson, Fernandez is to Nightwing: He defines the visual experience for the title. It looks effortless, but never unfinished. Every page he draws has tension and energy flowing over it like the colorful characters flying in the air.
Chris Sotomayor deserves special praise as well. He makes some inspired choices in his palette this issue; like the soft oranges and pinks in the panel above, or the cool blues and murky night skies in others parts. Sotomayor’s colors give that extra edge to the pencils and inks, and they’re absence would be jarring to say the least.
On to the story, Seeley is putting Dick through the ringer once more. While dealing with a weapons smuggling ring and a barge full of super villains, Dick’s tech support was murdered in his own home. Desperate to bring the killer to justice, Dick teams up with his old boss/flame Helena Bertinelli AKA Huntress. They make short work of the investigation, before they realize that their Spyral days aren’t quite over yet.
Obviously, the Grayson callbacks are an easy way to impress me, but they don’t feel forced or tacked on: Dick’s past catching up to him has been a recurring theme (as well as a prevalent one in superhero comics for the past few decades). Something else that’s appreciated is the fact that Dick’s choices lately have ripple like consequences, choosing to be a hero and asking his friend for help didn’t work out perfectly like Dick hoped they would. It gives the issue’s events some emotional weight behind them.
It occurs to me that throughout this entire run, there’s never been a time when Dick thought about quitting as Nightwing. Being a hero is so ingrained in his DNA, he might not function well without a mask. All he can do when he hits these low points is hit back, and try to do better again.
Three years spent on the same character, and Seeley’s still finds new challenges for him. It still feels exciting watching Dick be a hero, and be the good person he’s always been. It’s that quality and geniality that keep me coming back to this team and this title.