The Heart Of The Matter: Reviewing ‘Nightwing’ #96
by Scott Redmond
One of the major plots of ‘Nightwing’ comes to an action-packed heart-pounding satisfying almost two years in the making conclusion while setting up what is coming next and continuing to move the title character forward. This series is truly a delight to flip through, a gorgeous colorful, and powerful superhero story that wears its character-focused heart on its sleeve at all times.
Back in March 2021, a new creative team came on board Nightwing, with their plans and goals that truly brought the character back to his place as the heart of the DC Universe. This included reestablishing things like his relationships (with Babs, Wally West/Flash, the Titans, the Bat-fam, Superman, etc.), a new status quo for Blüdhaven/Nightwing, and setting up a new foe as well as the return of a classic foe in the form of Blockbuster. Over the last year and a half, everything has been leading up to a final confrontation between Nightwing and Blockbuster.
That final confrontation has finally arrived.
Nightwing #96 is pretty much a giant fight scene/action piece, but one that is still very much full of fantastic character/human moments and focuses. One thing that is definitely certain is just how much Tom Taylor understands Dick Grayson as a character. We see him at his best here, even as his own future/identity is at stake, putting everything aside to do what is right and what is best by taking on and taking down Blockbuster. It’s not just Dick though, as what Taylor does with Barbara/Batgirl/Oracle and the rest of the cast just works so well every time.
In some ways, the fate of Blockbuster after he escapes could be cliché, yet it’s not really since it was something that was set up months ago. We knew what Heartless wanted with Blockbuster, and when the villain was at his lowest the new villain got what he wanted. Sure, it wipes out the issue of Blockbuster knowing that Nightwing/Dick Grayson is the same person that just happened in the last issue, but I’m okay with that. Better to have it dealt with rather than being a plot point hanging around the background for months to years.
Babs/Oracle is one of my favorite characters, alongside Grayson, so I loved how she dismantled Blockbuster’s whole position not through fighting but through the revelation of his business dealings and how he screwed over other villains. Also, thank goodness for her rationality and being a badass since she was able to verbally knock all the “I must be alone to protect those I love” stuff that Grayson was starting to throw out there at the end. I get why the mind would go there with the whole identity reveal thing, but I wanted to roll my eyes at that so much.
At this point, it’s no surprise what we’re going to get when Bruno Redondo and Adriano Lucas are bringing this book to life together. Yet there were some panels here that were just so good and unexpected that they nailed. Such as early on there is a panel (see below) where we the audience are gazing at Nightwing/Blockbuster and the burning library through Nightwing’s fallen mask. That’s some truly cool comic book stuff right there, give me all those glorious panels!
How Redondo panels things work every single time, from great emotional close-up shots to simple shots that evoke emotion such as Nightwing’s tight fists held before his chest with his emblem torn but still powerful and bright blue. As noted, this is a big action issue and Redondo makes panels/pages feel energetic with great movement while also making them big and beautiful at the same time. Blüdhaven has its particular feeling and character on display and Redondo gives us such a detailed & deep version of the city every single time. Even when we’re only seeing a portion of that city.
Caio Filipe returns in this issue and takes up inking the whole issue rather than just a few of the pages. In the last issue, those pages that Filipe inked had the same feeling as the rest of Redondo’s pages, and here the inks just fit in so well with Redondo’s style that it matches what we’ve seen before. Sometimes the best work that one can do is the work that doesn’t stand out as much because that means they’re making sure to keep the artistic flow going.
There is a lot of rapid-fire change of scenes and feelings within this issue which means a lot of colorful changes to be found, and Lucas nails them like always. What I love about Lucas’s color work is that it shifts so easily and well no matter the artist, but also it has a beautiful brightness to it that also feels toned down at the same time and smooth. There are tons of oranges and yellows, purples, blues, and vivid pinks to be found in various scenes but they are never overwhelming in their brightness, just enough to make them stand out while enhancing or spotlighting whatever is happening around them.
Fists and feet might be flying around in this big fight-centric issue, but there are plenty of words flying around as well. Wes Abbott is the other key to what makes this series work so well, pumping all the letters in the book full of so much energy and power as well as personality. All the right things are done to make sure that volume/tone is clear in anyone’s words so that when the big loud moments happen, we know that Nightwing or someone else is mad/yelling. I love how he’s handled the quieter yet terrifying dialogue for Blockbuster, even when things are falling apart his words are still lower but loud with power.
Oh, and the SFX in this issue took the spotlight in so many areas. Big, bold, colorful, with so much variety. Giving us that joy of hearing these moments mixed with that good good comic book feeling, big chef kiss type of situation going on.
Nightwing #96 is now available from DC Comics.