REVIEW: ‘Nightwing,’ Volume 1 – Leaping Into The Light

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Nightwing: Leaping Into The Light

Nightwing Volume 1: Leaping Into The Light is a star-studded spectacle every comic fan should absorb wholeheartedly, not to mention DC’s best storyline in 2021. This trade collects issues #78 through #83 written by Tom Taylor. The artwork is courtesy of Bruno Redondo, with colors by Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott as the series letterer. 

Let me preface this by restating one thing from earlier reviews: DC has not been kind to Nightwing since the New 52. While redoing its entire universe was a great leap, DC spent much time trying to kill the character rather than allow him to develop and become his own, to finally leave the Shadow of the Bat. Dick Grayson became a hero, a victim, spy, hero, and victim (again, but with amnesia). It was a long, bumpy, tedious road with great creative teams working hard through the hells higher powers wrought. 

Then in 2021, Grayson gets his memory back, his sense of humor, swagger, and he and a very underused Bludhaven are reborn. A new creative team whisks the two into a pastel Wonderland of hopes, dreams, dark crime, political corruption, and Nightwing finding a cute three-legged dog. No, really. You can do cute with Nightwing, and it should come more often. This character exudes humanity, and it needs to show, especially in the city he protects, infamous for vice. But as a new creative team under Taylor sauntered into town earlier this year, Nightwing shifted. It moved into all the right grooves. A funny, feel-good, emotional storyline masterfully paced, reinvigorating old characters to feel as fresh as the neon-noir prismatic coating Lucas illuminated the panels with.

Nightwing: Leaping Into The Light brings in the acrobatic Nightwing, saving a disabled dog from wannabe thugs. It comes in a glorious set of renderings, shades, and words by Redondo, Lucas, and Abbott (get used to it, as they never disappoint) of Bludhaven and our hero. Goodness, seeing it was akin to watching the sunrise on your favorite beach while seeing the circus for the first time. Everything is in perfect position, and as a huge Robin/Nightwing fan, it was as if this was my Day one intro to the character, a street-level vigilante. Still, without the dank, heartless, vile dark heroes (basically anti-villains) since the start of the Miller Age of Comics, a grim mood that persisted and sucked up so many of us into believing all comics must follow its ravenous lead. Not so! Nightwing and its new team shine a brilliant set of new optics on Bludhaven, pulling the blue-collar out of the mire, showing a working-class city populated by hard workers and good pizza, where real life isn’t afraid to be put on display. Graft. Theft. The unhoused. Missing persons. We get these slices of life into the story, as well as big-name foes such as Blockbuster and newfound evil gems like Heartless.

What we also get is forward progression. So much of comics is a retcon nowadays that one wonders if stories matter. But heroes rarely move forward. Dick was Batman once. It was great. Then he wasn’t. Since then, there has been a floundering over what to do with him. Simple answer: make him his own man and Bludhaven central. Stop dillydallying on relationships (another comics staple that is often invited, only to be ruined down the road) and show heroes can have healthy lives. Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, plays a lovely role in these six issues, and her relationship with Nightwing finally seems to be getting somewhere. In a way, we are offered a reset under Taylor’s sublime tutelage, with Blockbuster back in control of the city, even over the new mayor, Melanie Zucco, who comes with an amazing twist. So fans can look forward to another Nightwing/Blockbuster rivalry that will keep eyes on pages waiting to see how it plays out in the long run.

2021 saw a ton of comic book crossovers, especially in the Batman titles Nightwing is connected to at the proverbial hip. While many of them offered huge storylines with what amounted to status quo-altering threats, by the end of them, little had changed. That’s the comic landscape in a nutshell, and as a fan of them for over thirty-five years now, the luster wore off long ago. Here in six issues, fans are given a life-changing state for our hero, a reintroduction into what makes Nightwing tick, a life rebuilding, shades of pre-New 52 Bludhaven without it feeling weighty, a new foe, a direction for the hero, loose ends tied up, new ones made, great action, and amazing art. Taylor provides expert storytelling and a gaggle of characters written with ease, yet all of their stories are considered. None are here just for show or to boost sales. This is simply put, a superhero story laid out to show you how it should be done. No hype, no gloss (except in the art), no broken promises. Just a damn fine storyline with a zinger of a cast.

Overall, this is a ten-star story with twelve-star art and design. Heartless, our new baddie, is a chill precision nightmare version of Nightwing in behavior, and it’s scary. Nightwing must deal with this threat, the housing crisis in the city, and newfound wealth. All of these points are deftly handled, emotionally and imaginatively rendered, brightly colored, and professionally worded to bring the Nightwing fan the experience they have long needed. Nightwing gets the respect he deserves, and the setup is tremendous. I cannot say enough about the new creative team and what they do with this book. Get it. Buy extra copies and deliver them door-to-door. Put one on every coffee table in America. Nightwing is one of the greatest superheroes in comic books.  Nightwing: Leaping Into The Light proves this.

Nightwing Volume 1: Leaping Into The Light is available now wherever comic books are sold.


Nightwing Volume 1: Leaping Into The Light
5

TL;DR

Overall, this is a ten-star story with twelve-star art and design. I cannot say enough about the new creative team and what they do with this book. Get it. Buy extra copies and deliver them door-to-door, and put one on every coffee table in America. Nightwing is one of the greatest superheroes in comic books.