THIS WEEK: Nightwing #79 continues to build on last month’s Infinite Frontier relaunch, packing an awful lot of heart into the second issue.
Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
I’ve been a Nightwing fan for almost as long as I’ve been a Superman fan, following his career with rapt attention since 1996’s Nightwing #1 that I picked up off a grocery newsstand because of the striking Scott McDaniel cover. For a while, being a Nightwing fan was pretty great. Chuck Dixon wrote Dick’s main book, while Devin Grayson wrote him in both Titans and Gotham Knights. She also eventually took over Nightwing’s book from Dixon, and between the two of them, they established a fantastic life for the grown-up Boy Wonder.
Then came Dan DiDio. DiDio made pretty clear his feelings on sidekicks, and especially the ones that had grown up. He felt that grown-up sidekicks took away from their mentors because they had to be too old. During DiDio’s time with the company, the original Teen Titans had a rough time. Dick was almost offed in Infinite Crisis. Donna Troy did bite it to establish a new Teen Titans team (she gets better, then turns evil in the New 52, then gets better again). Garth dies in Blackest Night. Wally gets sidelined for Barry’s return, then wiped from existence, comes back, dies, gets better, goes to Sanctuary, murders his friends (including fellow founding Titan Roy Harper, who also lost an arm, lost a child, AND had to be friends with Red Hood under Scott Lobdell’s pen during DiDio’s reign), and then became Doctor Manhattan to redeem himself.
But Dick just kept getting crap thrown at him in DiDio’s nearly 20 years at the helm of the company. He got regressed to be Nightwing after being a co-Batman with Bruce at the end of the pre-Flashpoint universe. DiDio did get him killed in Forever Evil, after which he was immediately revived and turned into a secret agent. Now Grayson was great, but it’s still a far cry from what fans of the character had been clamoring for. Then came Rebirth. Dick did pretty okay in this era… until he got shot in the head in Batman #55. Then we were subjected to two years of a terrible amnesia storyline, that went on about 22 months too long. All in all, it’s been a bad fifteenish years to be a Nightwing fan.
Enter Infinite Frontier and new beginnings. Infinite Frontier isn’t a reboot, not in the way that the New 52 was, or even in the way that Rebirth was. What it is though, is a reset. A fresh start. You’re not washing away the things that came before, but you’re moving the story and character forward in a way we haven’t seen at DC in recent years. Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing is among the best examples of this. We’re still acknowledging that the two years of Ric Grayson happened, that’s not going anywhere, but we’re beyond that now, and it doesn’t need to be a focus ever again.
Instead, in their first issue, they established a fantastic new status quo for Dick, making him richer than Bruce thanks to inheriting Alfred’s billions. Nightwing #79 continues to build upon that, exploring exactly what Dick plans to do with his newfound wealth. He starts by buying food (at the wonderful “Marv & George’s Pizza” where the owner is none other than Nightwing co-creator George Pérez) and lodging for homeless people in Blüdhaven.
The issue is light on action, with only a brief set piece of saving homeless thieves from mobsters, but it’s full-up on heart. Dick’s compassion and love for life are two of the primary things that separate him from his ever-brooding mentor. Nightwing #79 takes those aspects of him and brings them to the forefront, providing us with a Dick Grayson who cares, maybe a little too much, for the people in his city, and is going to do whatever he can to help them when they fall. This is the soul that Nightwing has really been missing since Devin Grayson left the book, and if it stays like this, we’re in for another all-time great run.
Oh and Dan? When you complimented my Nightwing tattoo at Emerald City Comic Con in 2016? I knew you were lying through your teeth. Anyone who loves the character enough to get him tattooed knew exactly how you felt about the character. Here’s to this bright new direction.
- Superman: Red and Blue #2 was a bit of a disappointment for me. None of the stories hit as well as the two best stories from the first issue. The Nicola Scott cover is fantastic though.
- Ram V’s Catwoman continues to be an absolute blast, and boy are Fernando Blanco’s pencils pretty. I would KILL for that dress at the end.
- I don’t play Fortnite because I’m an old, but Batman/Fortnite Zero Point #1 comes out this week for anyone who would want that particular crossover.
- The Flash continues to commit the cardinal sin that a Flash book can, in that it is slow and boring. The art didn’t do this issue any favors with Wally in Bart’s body looking like a steroid-bound 1980s wrestler.
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