Review: ‘Nightwing’ #81 Drops A Giant Bombshell While Continuing An Energetic And Gorgeous New Run

by Scott Redmond

Overview

The bold yet familiar in the best ways possible era of Nightwing continues with another engaging, gorgeous, colorful, heartfelt, fun, and even shocking issue. Every piece of these four issues proves how much this creative team loves both Dick Grayson but also everything about his and the Bat-family’s world. This surely will go down as one of the greatest Nightwing runs and one of the greatest times for fans of the characters.

Overall
9.5/10
9.5/10

Dick Grayson/Nightwing has a long bountiful history through the decades that the character has existed at DC Comics. From times as Robin alongside Batman to times with the Teen Titans and growth into Nightwing, along with quite a few solo series over the last thirty years. Despite all that, this very well might be one of the best times the character has ever had.

It all in a way began with an almost back-to-basics approach that came with the introduction of Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott as the new creative team for the acrobatic hero’s solo series. That approach saw Dick back to being Nightwing (after a bout of a bullet to the head amnesia for two years) on the streets of Blüdhaven, rekindling his relationships with the Bat-family members, but most importantly bringing a sense of fun and heart back to a character that is truly one of the hearts of the DC Universe.

This new approach has made the past four issues something truly special that hasn’t lost a bit of steam along the way. The storyline of the new villain Heartless and what Dick is trying to do to help fight for the soul of Blüdhaven is really intriguing and is a gorgeous sight to look upon. Redondo, Lucas, and Abbott are doing some truly inspiring work on this series.

There is so much loving care put into the detailed imagery of the characters and the setting but also the overall concepts on the page. Just things like the small cut-out panels that show off stuff like how he uses his escrima sticks to enter a building to the large amount of really intricate close-ups that are peppered through the issue. These close-ups especially make the series stand out as they add so much to the scenes, whether showcasing emotional state or setting up for action or really approximating the hectic nature that comes with any sort of fight/action scene in reality.

Then there is the way that the colors delightfully play with the contrasting concepts of bright/light and shadows within the same scenes. Not only does this make many of the scenes even more dynamic and stand out, it fits with the overall theme of the brightness of this city that exists but is constantly under siege from the shadowy figures that have it in an iron grip.

Helping bring even more life to that is the lettering work of Abbott, especially the really diverse style of the SFX through the issue. There is a growing trend to make those SFX not only alternate between blending in with the scene to being larger and more central to the scenes but altering the style of the font/how they look. It’s hard to really put into words but a lot of the SFX looks exactly like you would think they would look if the sound had a visual aspect to them.

It’s not just the SFX though, as the other lettering work also shows off so much character and emotion to it. There is a scene where Dick actually becomes quite angry and the constant shifts in the size and font of his words show off that anger which quickly moves to shock come the cliff hanger conclusion of the issue.

Speaking of that cliff hanger, Taylor has a habit at times of taking things that people expect are going to go one way and taking it in another direction. Sometimes this can be something welcome other times it might be something that doesn’t sit as well with the audience, and this one could go either way. Yet for this reviewer, it’s a very intriguing and potentially welcome swerve depending on where things go from here. It’s nice to be surprised by things and to end up being ‘wrong’ about where you think they are going.

Taylor has a really firm grasp on the voices of Dick and Babs and Tim and others. The heroic stubbornness of Dick is endearing while also head shaking, and it’s so like him. Babs knowing that and her stuff in the issue just works on all levels. It’s nice to really see these really great interactions and having the Bat-family on the same page again instead of butting heads like much of the last few years.

Overall, this is a very interesting and at times fun issue that carries on the influx of energy that has been brimming from this series since the first issue of the new run. There is still a lot of unanswered questions and plotlines on the table, but that makes things even juicier in the long run. It’s a great time to be a Dick Grayson fan.

Nightwing #78 is now on sale from DC Comics in print and digitally.

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