Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Javier Fernández (Pencil & Inks), Chris Sotomayor (Colours)
Release Date: 17th August 2016
Dick Grayson has always been something of a fascinating character – one of the few heroes in the DC canon who has actually, y’know, aged (albeit it not in any particular real-time fashion). The evolution from boy orphan, to Boy Wonder, to stepping out from beneath Batman’s shadow to become a superhero in his own right, it’s always made for a compelling character.
After that experiment with the whole pretending to be dead to infiltrate a Grant Morrison-created psychedelic spy organisation, what I can say for starters is that it’s kinda great to have Dick back in the black-and-blue that he belongs in. Never has a costume and identity felt more earned than it does with Nightwing.
The real joy of the series thus far is Seeley’s lovely characterisation of young Master Grayson. Whilst we still have the borderline arrogant hero who’s always smiling and joking in the face of danger, Seeley is effortlessly weaving in a conflict that’s not just central to the character, but to the plot as well. After the last few panels of issue #2, it’s become clear that Raptor has ulterior motives for working with the Parliament of Owls that may or may not align with what Dick’s trying to do. On the side of casting doubt is Batgirl herself, and their will-they-won’t-they relationship is beautifully played with herein, all the while contributing to what is become an increasingly compelling narrative.
There’s also a great vein of self-deprecation in the dialogue, the characters all aware of their history, and more than happy to slightly take the piss out of their own mild ridiculousness, which’ll have you smiling more than you might expect from an otherwise rather dramatic book.
Fernández’s staging remains immaculate – as Chris pointed out in his review of issue #2, he’s showing a wonderful knack for slightly off-piste panelling, and it’s working beautifully once again here in issue 3. In particular, a fraught search through an old, labyrinthine house full of traps stands out in this issue – culminating in what in other hands might’ve come across as a low-tier video game puzzle, but Fernández keeps it absolutely fascinating, with both himself and Seeley having clearly done their research on the key to solving the puzzle (which I won’t spoil for y’all here), and presenting it incredibly dynamically.
Overall, with such a strong start, and with its momentum not faltering as yet, this remains a Bat-family series that should very much be on your radar. It hasn’t quite reached ‘utterly essential’ as yet – though depending on precisely how this arc culminates, that’s very much subject to change in retrospect – but it’s an immensely satisfying read in its own right, even if you’re not a pre-existing fan of the character. The creative team have breathed new life into an oft-maligned hero, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24