Comics On A Whole New Level: Reviewing ‘Nightwing’ #87
by Scott Redmond
‘Nightwing’ #87 is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that every single comic book fan needs to pick up and read for themselves. Every bit of love and dedication for this character and world is clear within the pages of this artistic masterpiece that will most certainly be talked about for years to come.
Comic books are a special medium that provides an amazing experience. Sometimes the experience that is presented between the cover pages is even more special than one could imagine. Enter, Nightwing #87.
Months ago, it was announced that this issue was going to work as one where all 22 pages of the story would be one continuous connecting image. Connecting covers, multiple covers that create one full image, are pretty common in the comic book realm. Connecting pages of this magnitude most certainly are not.
Since taking over this series, Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott have created something truly spectacular as they brought Dick Grayson back to his place as the DC Universe’s heart and solidified his world. It’s only natural that they took things even further. It’s hard to even put this experience into words because it’s so inventive and so different presented so beautifully.
Story-wise, the issue is about a hit being put out on Dick Grayson after his announcements back in Nightwing #83, and his having to navigate that and chase down the folks after they stupidly decide to kidnap his companion puppy Haley/Bitewing. In some respects, this ‘hook’ could be seen as simple, but it once again gets deep into who Grayson is as a character and how he’s made such an impact on this city and world already in just the last handful of issues. Taylor knows this character and his world and that is inherently clear the deeper that we go because the care and love for this world and characters are clear on every single page.
While on the surface the story might seem simple, this issue is anything but. Comics are a visual medium, so the art very much carries a lot of the weight normally but here that is even more of the truth. No wonder Redondo had to take the past three issues off, this clearly was a massive heartfelt endeavor.
Following Grayson’s movements and the movement of those he’s fighting (and ally Oracle/Batgirl when she arrives) is the main draw here. Page by page we are essentially panning the camera across Blüdhaven itself as we watch the characters ‘move’ across the pages towards the destination. Redondo has outdone himself at the level of detail that is showcased on each page, bringing this part of Blüdhaven to stunning realistic life.
Honestly, some of these shots look like they could be actual photos of a part of a city, some of them even ripe for putting on a postcard with ‘Welcome to Blüdhaven’ slapped on for good measure. Despite being around for such a long time, Blüdhaven hasn’t gotten the same levels of visual exploration at times as Gotham or Metropolis or the other major fictional cities of the DC Universe. That changes here as we get a pretty good glimpse of the life and scale of at least this portion of Gotham’s sibling city.
Also, it would have been very easy to just have the focus on Nightwing/Grayson and the action parts of the story and not worry about the rest of what was going on in the city around here. It would be off, but it would have been easy to do, but Redondo doesn’t just settle for easy. This is an issue that needs multiple reads because outside of the main action there is so much life and things to explore going on around the city streets. Graffiti to check out, characters going about their lives, little extras hanging from fire escapes, just so many awesome things that 100% make this a lived-in feeling place.
Redondo knocks it out of the park in bringing it to visual life, which allows Lucas to soar in and take that life to a more vivid colorful place. Each of the buildings has a different look because of the levels of light that might hit it, the colors of the building, and just other natural elements that can change how something appears to the eye. At the same time, the right levels of light and color, as well as shadows, are brought to the scenes that take place inside compared to those that are outside.
This is a continuous issue that takes place during the evening hours and one of the really cool things is how well Lucas makes sure that the change in the skies is gradual and mixes together. It’s not jarring to see the sky getting dimmer, lights popping on more, as the night gets closer across each page as it just flows so well. It’s all just so smooth and dynamic, a true sight to behold.
Every issue they do together showcases why this trio of artistic creatives is top notch and was meant to work together, as Abbott brings even more magic with the lettering. There are little flares in the dialogue and captions that give it life even in the pages where characters are just moving in the distance, keeping us attached more to what is happening. Not to mention there is a ton of bright and fun and in-your-face SFX to go around this time, bringing an even more frenzied action-packed energy here.
Every element they bring to the page ratchets the energy up from page one and it never let’s go till the final moment of the issue, where the breath you’ve been holding since the first few pages can finally be released in relief. Even having read it numerous times now, the wonder and the energy and sheer comic book fan glee that radiates off me has not changed one bit. This isn’t just a story or a comic as we know it, this is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that may never be replicated again.
A lot of words were placed here trying to review this experience, and honestly, while I stand behind each and every word, they do not do this issue true full justice. Because this is not something that can be explained. It must be experienced.
Nightwing #87 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.