Twas the night before Christmas and all through the city,
Nightwing was endeavouring to fight the self-pity
Much-needed distraction comes in the shape of two cases – the weekly break-out at Arkham Asylum, and problems at a computer company. Batman takes the former, while Nightwing accepts the Dexiturn Technologies job.
The blackmailer is asking for a ‘strangely specific’ ransom figure – $2.76m, but even though that’s peanuts to Dexiturn, the company won’t open the floodgates to other bad guys by paying. Dick wonders if ‘Nabstract’ is in another country, but according to the systems, they’re on the building’s ground floor, right now…
The chase is on.
Refreshingly, this is a done-in-one Christmas story, with a warm and fuzzy wrap-up. Imagine a Hallmark movie filmed in Gotham. It’s surprising that a non-urgent business crime gets the attention of the Bat Family – that ‘We’ve been requested at the Dexiturn Technology offices’ line is straight out of the Bronze Age, when Batman wasn’t so much the dark vigilante as the pal you could ring for help. Still, the ‘Arkham revolt’ is obviously just another Wednesday for Batman, and in Gotham you never know how a seemingly mundane crime could escalate.
The motive for the crime may ring a few bells with comic industry employees… writer Dan Jurgens may be engaging in a little justified commentary here.
I’ve not been following Nightwing but tell me Jurgens is writing a Christmas story and I’m there… remember ‘Metropolis Mailbag’ from his Nineties Superman run?
And he doesn’t disappoint. ‘Abstract Holidays’ is a nice showcase for Dick, reminding us that compassion is as fundamental to Nightwing as athleticism and brains. Nabstract has potential as a character for the Batman line, while there’s humour in the shape of a Dexiturn boss who could be a tad more grateful for Dick’s help.
The thing that immediately struck me on reading this issue was the relationship between Batman and Nightwing – they’re equal partners, there’s no tension, the love is evident in their exchanges. I really have had enough of the former Dynamic Duo being at odds, and hope the Batman line continues to present them as friends at all times.
The other thing that delighted me on opening the book was the art of Ronan Cliquet, which is super-slick without being soulless. There’s an elegance to his compositions and linework, and a pleasing humanity to his characters, whether in the streets or in Bruce’s swanky new townhouse (apparently he’s no longer infinitely wealthy, simply mega-rich). Colour artist Nick Filardi also deserves credit for finishing the art with his well-chosen tones, which range from blues and oranges for the city streets to, well, everything for Dick’s Christmas jumper. Credit, too, to Andworld Design for a sharp lettering job.
Illustrator Travis Moore and colourist Alejandro Sanchez’s cover isn’t the most Christmassy, but it’s extremely good, with Dick visiting one of his gargoyle chums. The rendering of the costume material is very impressive, there is no doubt at all that Nightwing is a guy who dresses to emphasise his physical assets, as noted by that Mom in the panel above. And if this is the final issue of Nightwing until after the coming DC Multiverse jump, it’s a suitably iconic image to go out on.
Holiday tales aren’t common in comics these days. Don’t miss this one.