Nightwing #78 review

Dick gets a dog – and she’s adorable!

Oh, you want more? Well, you don’t have to be a boy acrobat to find this first Infinite Frontier issue of Nightwing a wonderful jumping-on point.

The story opens with a flashback to our hero’s first meeting with future Batgirl and Oracle Barbara Gordon, after they’ve both stood up to bullies. Commissioner Gordon gives Dick a lift home.

Dick doesn’t have a fairy godmother, but he does have Alfred.

In the present day, we find Dick still standing up to bullies, although he’s very much in costume as Blüdhaven’s blue blade, Nightwing.

And that’s how he meets the cute wee dog, a stray he takes to the vet, and on to his apartment. He doesn’t plan to give her a home, but a visiting Babs has other ideas.

Every page of this issue is a joy as writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo, fresh off their brilliant Suicide Squad run, invigorate Dick Grayson’s life. As well as the pooch we have Babs – set to be a regular in the title – plus new opportunities for doing good, a returning bad guy and a brand new mayor.

This is the old mayor.

I like the look of this guy, he’s like a hipster Hugo Strange, but his question proves to be an unplanned resignation speech. As for his replacement, it’s someone with an intriguing connection to Dick. And they seem to know his secret identity. Mind, it’s not like our hero tries hard to protect it, chatting to Babs on his balcony in costume, sans mask.

The tender relationships between Dick and Babs, and Dick and Alfred, are etched in every line of Redondo’s slick figurework, complementing the warmth of Taylor’s words. The script throughout is excellent, pithy and witty, a wonderful primer on Dick Grayson and his world. Redondo’s visualisation of Blüdhaven is joyous, his cityscape lit by the neon colour choices of Adriano Lucas – well, the place can’t be all grimy dockyards. Illustrator and colourist were also partnered on Suicide Squad and I’m thrilled they’re still together; Redondo’s innovative, excellent storytelling lit by Lucas’s sublime colour work makes for pages that glow with greatness. The action scenes are especially fine – just look at the gracefulness in that panel above, the Nightwing after-images, pointedly toned by Lucas, showing our hero’s progress.

The quietly attractive lettering of Wes Abbott adds to the visual appeal, nestling beautifully amidst the artwork. A shout-out, too, to DC designer Darran Robinson for the sharp new logo, it’s deceptively straightforward, a nice reflection of Dick’s personality. As for Redondo’s cover concept and full-colour execution, it’s an instant classic.

That overused phrase covers the whole issue, a creators’ masterclass in declaring a new era while respecting what’s come previously. The only thing missing is editors Ben Meares and Jessica Chen declaring a contest to Name That Dog (well, bitch, technically)!

So, what do you reckon? In tribute to Dick’s biggest non-romantic gal pal, how about Dogga Troy? Or if she’s not housetrained, echo another Teen Titan with Pee-dy?

But seriously, folks, I’d love to see a tribute to the person who made Dick the man he is. Name That Dog Alfreda – Alfie for short!

24 thoughts on “Nightwing #78 review

  1. The will stuff had me shed a tear. Taylor is amazing. Even books I know I won’t like going in I have to admit are well done with him at the helm. Loved the Ric joke especially. Here’s hoping he winds up writing Dick even longer than Dixon did!

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  2. I think he dated a Zucco daughter for a while — or at least had a flirty-sparring relationship with her. Maybe back when Snyder was writing him as Batman? I think she’d Americanized her name to Branch.

    Oh, hell, I’ll run it through the ol’ Googler.

    Yep, Sonia Branch, head of Gotham National Bank. She manipulated him a bit, but wasn’t a baddie — was ashamed of her father’s and family’s legacy.

    Anyway, needless to say I loved this. Grade-A stuff, all around! And Alfred calling Dick his son…sniff! Just perfect.

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  3. Can I just say that Babs’ reaction to the puppy through the window, with the hands on the face, the pursed kissy lips, and the fantastic word balloon was just wonderfully done.

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      1. well to each their own but maybe Taylor could do something with all of them and make some dynamite new villains

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  4. Normally I’ve bought Nightwing only when it crossed over with Batgirl, or more recently for the Joker War crossover. But Taylor and Redondo are too good to ignore. They did not disappoint.

    This may be the only book that will feature much of Barbara beyond her new role in Batman, where she shows up sitting behind a desk directing the field Batgirls – all of this amounting to a panel of Steph and Cass punching people, while Barbara is breaking through layers of encryption (that is, pulling off thousands of years of computations in seconds), penetrating layers of firewalls, looking up and sending floor plan schematics, intercepting encrypted and regular communications, and doing all the other “ingenious” computer things Oracle does (which are otherwise known as “cheap plot devices”). I’d rather see her in the field, using her (rarely shown) photographic memory rather than her computer.

    Here at least Barbara threw Dick across the room, which is exactly what a decent Batgirl does. So there is hope for Batgirl, at least as Taylor will be writing her.

    Plus, puppy!

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    1. Babs throwing Dick was tremendous, more of This Kind of Thing please. I dunno about them being the perfect match, but I like them with each other far more than with any of their other affairs… not that Babs has had that many guys I can recall. There’s Jason Bard, who predates the Dick romance and came back recently and… who else?

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  5. Hey! Your review made me pick up the book. Thanks. I enjoyed it. It’s nice to see a bat character who isn’t all doom and gloom. The tone of this book was great. This is the Dick Grayson I remember.

    I’m not thrilled to see Babs in a supporting role. I’d rather see her in her own book. 🙂
    I’m not thrilled to see her relegated to the Oracle role. Deus ex machina at the best of time. Boring narrator at the worst. And I’m not sold on her and Dick being a couple, but at least it’s based on some kind of history/continuity.

    I really like that Bludhaven continues to be the setting. Dc has a wealth of fictional cities and I love to see those cities become as much a part of a book as any other character.

    I’ll check out the next issue for sure.

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    1. Do you prefer Starfire with Dick? I did once but the years have not been kind to Kory and Babs and Dick together has won me over…

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      1. I do prefer Kory with Dick. I always thought that the Dick and Babs thing came out of nowhere, but I had forgotten that it was kinda established back in Batman Family that they had a bit of chemistry. So… I get why people are into the coupling. I’m not super opposed to it, but I prefer Starfire. Probably as that’s the pairing I grew up with and watched develop. At the end of the day, as long as all three characters are written well, I’m cool with however the writers decide to pair them with.

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      2. I liked them together in NTT but that started to wane when Wolfman stayed on after burning out. Kory as is doesn’t work in Bludhaven or Gotham so in a more grounded comic, I prefer Babs. I remember Batman Family well so yes, they have history of a sorts. At least they rediscovered Starfire’s story engine. For years it was only ‘why doesn’t Dick love me’. An otherwise awesome writer even used that trope to write her out of JLA!

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      3. I never like people Dick with Cyborg as an idea, but they were occasionally sweet together. I liked that recent DC Romance giant with the two of them moving forward.

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    2. I’m chuffed the book didn’t disappoint after my words of praise! Hopefully DC will give Babs the book she deserves… that implant can’t be that worn out, surely? And if it is, well, Dick knows Cyborg.

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    1. Nope. No love for Lori. She’s a drip.
      But I second your thoughts on the Starfire/Dick story in the DC Romance comic. That was a cool little tale. More of that. They have a history, but they’re cool with it and they’re moving forward.

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