Nightwing #81 review

It seems rude, I try not to, but I can’t help it. Usually, when reading a new comic, I find myself stopping to make notes. A word here, a sentence there, just in case I decide to give it a shout-out here.

Not with the new Nightwing. Since writer Tom Taylor, illustrator Bruno Redondo and colour artist Adriano Lucas came on board, that doesn’t happen. There’s such a smoothness to the stories, a flow from panel to panel, carrying me through the book, that notes can wait.

I simply enjoy.

And this latest issue has so much to recommend it. It begins with new mayor of Blüdhaven Melinda Zucco being welcomed by the man who would be the power behind the throne.

Meanwhile, Dick confronts Heartless, the monster who’s been preying on the city’s homeless community.

There’s a threat to the local street kids that calls for Dunkirk spirit.

And strong support for Dick from Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake.

And lots, lots more, including a certain adorable puppy, a new trick from Nightwing’s baton and a second superb fight sequence. Oh, and a rather massive last-page revelation.

Or lie. Let’s leave that one off the table until next time, as Taylor has asked folk not to put it out there.

The level of craft in this series is astonishing. Taylor and Redondo have been working together for years now, at least as far back as 2013 when Redondo was drawing chapters of Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us series. Since then the collaboration has become ever stronger, with their 2019-2020 Suicide Squad showing just what they could do as partners. And now we have Nightwing, a series with the visual style of a Sixties film caper but doing things only comics can. Comics in the hands of experts, that is. The way graphic design is part of the storytelling is delightful, while the script builds on decades of character interaction without demanding audiences have read all the old stuff.

For example, Dick’s near-terminal head wound of a couple of years back is referenced, and we see its lingering effects, but there’s no suggestion we go back and read all the ‘Ric Grayson’ issues. No, it’s simply part of the hero’s history; what Taylor and Redondo are interested in is moving Dick forward – his character, mission and relationships. And I feel privileged to be here to enjoy Nightwing’s new life.

It’s impossible not to notice the contribution Adriano Lucas makes, his colours lighting up the night, and the emotions, on every page. Wes Abbott, meanwhile, lays down the script with a variety of fonts, always appropriate, never attention seeking… it’s a balancing act of which the Flying Graysons would be proud.

Redondo’s cover is blurb free and all the better for it – who could pass by such a striking image?

Nightwing gets better every issue, so I hope the current team stays a long whole. Surely they have plans for a big 100th issue blowout?

12 thoughts on “Nightwing #81 review

  1. I wish you had included the bit between the dock explosion and the talk in Dick’s apartment. My eyes are still wet from my reaction to that sequence.

    I also like Nightwing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s definitely still his book but his family is a big part of the story. That serves to highlight a main difference between Batman and Nightwing. There would be no other heroes in a Batman version of this story. Batman goes it alone until forced to turn to others. Babs and Tim are there because Dick has no ego when it comes to helping people and st of his heroing life. Good call by Taylor!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love it. I read Nightwing when it was tying in to Joker War and wasn’t planning to be a regular reader, but came for Taylor and Redondo and am staying for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorite team in comics. Taylor and Redondo (and Lucas and Abbott) deliver every time.

    Loved the dock scene, loved the clever way Heartless evaded Dick’s mask camera, loved the banter about Bitewing’s name. Loved the difference between someone enhanced with no training, and someone expertly trained, and how they can each be a threat. This is A+++ superhero comics, all the way.

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  4. Nightwing under creators Taylor and Redondo is experiencing a moment when a book that has been adrift gains a creative team who understands the history of the character and celebrates it. This reminds me of when Roger Stern and John Byrne took over Captain America briefly in 1980-81. No wonder these issues are going into third printings: this is comic book heaven. I also credit editor Jessica Chen for assembling this creative team: she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU which belies her years. Sometimes comic books get it right 😀

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    1. The Captain America comparison is excellent! That was also a fantastically entertaining run by two creators at the top of their game, talents who had perfect empathy with the character; hopefully Tom and Bruno and co will be around a lot longer than were Stern/Byrne. And fear not, I’m a charter member of the Jessica Chen fan club.

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  5. This book is beautifully made, has a seemingly effortless feeling of family, is positive (which, with the Bat family, I could see being challenging), and is an entertaining monthly read. I long ago became more a trade reader, because that’s where the satisfying read is usually found (and you can take time to find out whether a run fizzles, loses its big-sell artist, is subsumed into mediocre crossovers, etc,.) and tend only to buy single issues that I think really need support. This book, though, is very rewarding in monthly installments, too, which feels to me like nearly a forgotten art for any book that’s not, say, Usagi Yojimbo.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Martin! So glad you agree about Jessica Chen: she’s one of my favorite editors right now. Nightwing might become a book like Mark Waid’s run on Flash beginning in 1992 which became a world building factory for the DCU. Potentially, the Bat Family could leave the Flash Family in the dust 😀

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