Saturday, September 30, 2023

New Nightwing Creators Remember Comics Can Be Fun Yet Deep

Scott D. Parker

That image. A single splash page is all it took for me to put the current Nightwing run over at DC Comics on my radar. And oh boy am I glad I did

A fellow writer posted it on Facebook about a month ago and I was captivated by the art, the simultaneous classic and modern style. The artist is Bruno Redondo and he has teamed up with writer Tom Taylor to have a run at Nightwing. And what a run (so far).

Comics Are Not Supposed To Make You Cry

Luckily, my local library has the first three volumes of the Taylor/Redondo Nightwing books and I eagerly checked them all out. Then I ended up reading only Taylor-scripted titles for something like three weeks (I read a comic a day, usually right before bed).

How much did I enjoy that first issue? So much that I actually read two in one night (and drank extra coffee the next morning).

Don’t worry about not knowing what’s going on in the Nightwing universe. I didn’t when I started and it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the books. There’s enough stuff in the stories themselves to fill in the gaps. Or, as in my case, I didn’t really care. I was reading this current story.

The major event in Dick Grayson’s life is the inheritance left to him by Alfred Pennyworth (who is somehow now dead?). It’s a sizable amount, a life-changing amount, but what actually made tears spring in my eyes is the letter Alfred wrote to Dick. It’s everything you, as a parent, would want to say to a child, and it’s everything, as a child, you’d want to hear from a parent. I’m a dad so it hit me pretty deep.

There Are Other Choices a Hero Can Make

Over the decades, one of the recurring lines of thought about Bruce Wayne is that if he really cared about Gotham, he’d stop dressing up as a bat and invest in the city itself. There’s probably some truth to that.

Another theme is that Dick Grayson is different than Batman. He’s able to make different choices, one of which is to have a life and a girlfriend. In fact, there’s some of that in Alfred’s letter. So when Dick actually decides what to do with Alfred’s money, he does something different. Something positive.

This Comic is Fun

But what about the rest of the story? Well, it’s still a comic book so you’ve got fights and derring-do and villains, but it is the banter between Dick and Barbara Gordon/Batgirl that really takes this comic to the next level. Evidentially, prior to these issues, there was some underlying romance budding between the two heroes and it’s on full display here.

What’s also on full display is a brightness, a joy, an excitement in reading a comic. Look, I’m fine with dark and grim stuff and Batman himself pretty much fits that bill, but it doesn’t always have to be gritty. You can still deal with serious subjects and still have a good time. Taylor’s writing digs deep into Nightwing’s character and the greater Bat-Family. Redondo’s art is fresh and vibrant with a heaping helping of whimsy.

You've also got interesting moments where characters just talk about things and they are, if I'm being honest, just as good as the action stuff. Nightwing seeks out none other than Superman to discuss the events of the book. When you learn Superman places a lot of faith and trust in Dick Grayson, the depth of what Dick means to the DC Universe just opened up.

Oh, and Barbara said quite possibly the best line when Dick announces his decision: "Go get them, boy wonder." There is so much history as well as joy in that line.

I thoroughly enjoyed this run as published in three trade volumes (officially, issues 78-96) and I eagerly await the next volume. In the meantime, I’ve already begun reading Taylor’s Superman: Son of Kal-el series…and then checked out nearly every other Taylor-written trade volume at the library.

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