REVIEW: ‘Nightwing,’ Issue #58

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nightwing #58 is published by DC Comics, written by Scott Lobdell, with script by Zack Kaplan, art by Travis Moore, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, and letters by Andworld Design.

If you’re a big fan of Nightwing like me, or love him even more than Batman, also like me, and have been waiting decades to see him stand as an equal, maybe get his own sidekick and a sweet rogue’s gallery then you still be waiting. Nightwing #58 continues the many issue stretch of a hero without heroism. Ric Grayson is still with us, the new identity of our beloved hero, a man trying to eek out a living in Bludhaven as a cabbie while in denial of his previous life as the hero of the city. All while the identity of Nightwing has been taken up by a group of police officers playing vigilante by night. So far, they’ve defeated Scarecrow and now are taking on the Joker’s Daughter and her vicious hell games with a Bludhaven councilman while Ric keeps pitching in.

The issue tries to sell the Joker’s Daughter her as a villain who plans ahead and is extremely deadly but it isn’t authentic or believable. She is played off as a Joker knockoff instead of her own individual being.

Lobdell and Kaplan produce an explosive, gritty issue of Nightwing this time around. I read this story with a neutral stance. It neither motivated my interest nor did it make me hate it. I simply don’t get it. This book is the prime example of the flaw with comics. Sidekicks and junior partners grow up, albeit slowly. Naturally, you expect them to develop into their own person and stand out. Nightwing should have been that guy, twenty or more years ago.

But the New 52 has seen him ‘killed,’ reborn as a spy, return to being Nightwing, determined to stand on his own, return to the wonderful Purgatory called Bludhaven, then get laid low by the KGBeast, and become someone else. This is old news. Fans know the Ric Grayson tale has dragged out for several months. The sole question I have about this entire plotline is, what’s the payoff at the end? If it becomes Ric becomes Dick, then what was the point? If it’s these cops are the Nightwings for the long run, then I sense cancellation in the future.

I appreciate the effort to bring in new heroes, but I felt nothing for this team. For one, using the first letters of their real names as codenames is just plain weak. I guess it shows they’re ill-prepared and not really cut out for this, which might be revealed later on. Ric keeps having memory flashes and leading this team anyway, so it only further hammers the nail that this story arc isn’t doing more than forcing a narrative. We also saw this with the Scarecrow story. For some reason, we get it again, just with a different villain.

However, the issue is not a total downer, Travis Moore does a stellar job making the characters realistic and Bludhaven seems gritty and down to earth. The action sequences are well drawn. Colors are muted, adding to the grit and the mood. I particularly loved the browns in the background during the battle and am loving Tamra Bonvillain’s use of hues. And, I actually wouldn’t mind getting into an entire team of Nightwings Its just that these Nightwings aren’t very interesting characters and having their leader come in and go out makes their existence more of a headache than a joy to follow.

There are a few other issues I had with the book though. I don’t get Ric’s costume. Sure, he isn’t trying to be Nightwing, so he throws together some stuff stored in his trunk. But you really didn’t want to get found out as a vigilante, would you use finger-less gloves so you can leave fingerprints all over crime scenes? I doubt it. Also, at the end of the issue, we see the return of a familiar character in Ric/Dick’s life.  While it evokes an interesting conversation, it serves only to reaffirm that Ric must lead his own life. The dead horse is flogged once too often in this storyline.

I hope there is a resounding conclusion to this arc soon and it gives us a better Nightwing. I don’t even mind him being Ric, if it ends in him being Nightwing. It would be a very roundabout way to move the character into a new phase but might pay off if done right. I saw nice new bits of him when Dick was a spy, even though I saw it as a setback. Here, I am looking forward to how this concludes, what new foes exist in Bludhaven rather than rogues pulled from Batman’s list, and how Bludhaven grows as a character city. I will continue to see how this plays out, but hopefully, this particular saga moves on very soon.

Nightwing #58 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Nightwing #58
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TL;DR

Nightwing #58 continues the many issue stretch of a hero without heroism.