REVIEW: ‘Nightwing’, Issue #78

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nightwing #78

Nightwing #78 is here! For the second time in just a few months, readers are given a new creative team. Tom Taylor headlines the storytelling. Bruno Redondo pencils and inks the panels. Adriano Lucas performs the colorations, and Wes Abbott puts the words and sound effects down with lettering. This series is published monthly by DC Comics, and honestly, the company gave Dick Grayson a treacherous run since the New 52 began. They attempted to get rid of this beloved character twice, the last time with gunshot-induced amnesia.

But okay, let’s accentuate the positive. We last left off with issue #77, and the previous creative team had brought Dick back to himself and left readers knowing Nightwing and Bludhaven would be the future to look forward to. While there was a two-issue sidetrack into the cyber-dystopic tomorrow of Future State, we now get back on track and into the thick of things. And from the first page, this series has about-faced into the brightness of a brand new day.

Daytime comes in the form of a simple flashback, a fistfight between teenagers. It not only introduces to us a resolute character trait in Dick, but it’s his first meeting with another Gotham resident that sets the stage for what’s to come. Jump to present-day Bludhaven, where Nightwing educates a group of delinquents with old school discipline to save their intended target. In return, our hero makes a three-legged furry friend. This might seem trivial, but it again sets the stage and injects a portion of pathos and humor into the book that was, painfully, lacking for a very long time.

Along the way (and some beautiful bright and grim backdrops of the city), the flashback from earlier comes around, full circle, to introduce some moving and lifechanging story points for Dick. It’s well known that when a new creative team comes to a book, they utilize their first issue to set the tone and hint at what’s to come.  

But Taylor does it with pizzazz and serves up the story in a well-mixed cocktail of funny, dramatic, moody, and sunny moods to titillate the literary palette. Nightwing #78 is a neo-noir dream that knows the ins and outs of Dick Grayson and the city he has comes to defend. Bludhaven is as vivid as it is brutal, Dick as humble everyman as he is a millionaire’s ward and near-superhuman acrobat. The wording, setting, pace, and characterizations are so grounded. This looked and felt like an East Coast city at sunrise and in the dark of night. Taylor has seeded it with familiar and new characters to update the status quo, give fans something to wait for every thirty days, but yet harken back to the earlier Bludhaven run (pre-New 52) when Chuck Dixon first laid out its grotesque streets and heartless officials. This really felt like an entirely new series and a breath of fresh air. 

Yes, there are questions if those characters who were also once called Nightwing might show up, and old corrupt police characters might be lurking around the corner, but time will tell.

Speaking of fresh air, Redondo’s artwork is fun and humane. The motions, animations, and expressions of characters make them believable, lifelike, and funny. There is a certain four-panel spot early on with Nightwing firing a line from his baton that is simplified into a similar style as seen in instructional how-to’s. It fits in easily with the cool, almost laid-back renderings of the book. Redondo knows where to put the details and where to leave well enough alone to create a style that also seems to be a cocktail of every comic book art era. Just all-around eye-popping, natural, enjoyable, funny pages bliss.

And gracing this are the colors layered on by Lucas. With all the brightness, the background gradients of pink/maroon/fuschia, it’s as if the entire creative team, especially Lucas, were cognizant that this was not only a new era but that Nightwing #78 would release at the dawn of the Spring season. If so, bravo. Bludhaven is coming into a brilliant chrome and glass season of its own with the pigments unleashed by Lucas. From the puffy cotton candy of a Gotham park winter to Bludhaven (and a rather abrupt color scheme change later on), this is a vast departure from all black and gray duotone processes often witnessed in another Bat-book.

Abbott is as detailed with lettering SFX as are Redondo and Lucas in their respective fields. A simplistic ‘CRK!’ from Dick to his opponent, rendered in simple capital letters, not bold, but with a zigzag flair beneath and colored for highlight, set the mood in that single panel. It felt small to represent children fighting while also exemplifying it had its intended effect on the receiver. Later on, the huge lettering SFX one is used to in comic books arrives in an even bolder fashion and hits at the critical moment. The timing, big and small, hits everywhere, and Abbott took care to make the words and the sounds be where they need to be and catch the eye as required.

Simply put, Nightwing #78 is brilliant. Top to bottom, panel for ever-loving panel. If anyone somersaulted away from the series after the Ric Grayson storyline, acrobat flip yourself right on back and get this issue.

It might be too early to say Nightwing will get to stay in Bludhaven, not keep getting distracted by heading back to Gotham, having Gotham villains come to Bludhaven, etc. Or to assume that, maybe this time, DC will allow the character to grow into Nightwing permanently. He doesn’t need to ‘graduate’ into Batman. Been there, done that. Let’s make Nightwing the biggest hero in Bludhaven, with his own Wing-family and Rogues Gallery, just as great as the celebrated Bat-books. It could happen. Perhaps now is finally the time. This team could definitely pull it off.

Nightwing #78 is available now wherever comic books are sold. 

 

 

 

Nightwing #78
5

TL;DR

Simply put, Nightwing #78 is brilliant. Top to bottom, panel for ever-loving panel. If anyone somersaulted away from the series after the Ric Grayson storyline, acrobat flip yourself right on back and get this issue.