Nightwing #87 review

There’s a great little Fire and Water Presents podcast segment out there called Panel By Panel, in which my pal Siskoid and a guest chat about a single frame of comic art. Shows are short, about 20 minutes, as composition, execution, colours, storytelling and the like are discussed. If a panel from Nightwing #87 were chosen, the show would be considerably longer.

Because it’s not actually a case of ‘a panel’ here, it’s the panel. One piece of comic art split across two splashes and ten spreads, adding up to one incredible image.

Two of the spreads, side by side

Newly wealthy Dick Grayson has sworn to use his money to improve Blüdhaven. Not everyone wants this to happen and Barbara Gordon has heard that a hit has been put out on Dick. She gives him enough warning to avoid the first hail of bullets, but the bad guys aren’t giving up.

That’s the set-up for writer Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s groundbreaking tale, Get Grayson, and that’s all I’ll say so far as story beats go. Just sit back and enjoy a beautifully choreographed and illustrated chase sequence that comes with cracking characterisation.

The amount of thought and craft that’s gone into this issue is ridiculous, as the creators – and let’s not forget colour artist Adriano Lucas and letterer Wes Abbott – take us on a whirlwind tour of Blüdhaven, from the tram station to the warehouse district, with a stop-off at Dick’s place. On the street, on balconies and in windows, the ordinary folk populate foreground and background, bringing the pages to life in Rear Window style. Full-page bleeds allow the action to roll on from page turn to page turn, while multiple images of the running, jumping, tumbling and flying Grayson remind us that ‘dynamic’ is Dick’s middle name. An ambitious high-wire act, this issue is a one-off, and one pulled off with huge style.

Buy this comic. It’s one to treasure.

10 thoughts on “Nightwing #87 review

  1. One of the shortest reads ever though because of the experiment (hard to tell page count when you see this digitally but still) even if it is beautiful. The story is nonexistent though. New bad guys with maybe two lines of dialog combined who will never be seen again. Cute high concepts can still move story along (Slott’s Silver Surfer mobius strip) but this just wasted an issue.

    And if it weren’t for Twitter I would have missed the Gail Simone joke. At least Babs got better represented here than that awful Batgirls book. That’s something.

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    1. I’m no fan of quick reads, but I slowed down to enjoy the visual details, and it’s a one-off, so I’m good with it. I like to see creative teams challenge themselves.

      I noticed the bear poster and remembered some Twitter exchanges between Taylor and Simone, but can’t say I get the joke!

      After the preview, I never even tried Batgirls, it looks terrible.

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      1. I loved this issue. I agree the story was slight (due less to the format than to it being all action, all motion). But I don’t mind that in a one-off that was so experimental and visually delightful. And the only thing missing from the story, for me, was an explanation for why the dog was kidnapped and how it relates to the price on Grayson’s head. Sure, that can be addressed in a later issue, but even a hint, even raising the question of the mystery would’ve made the issue feel more complete.

        But jeez, the art. I hope they do background material in the trade, because the script-to-pencil process must’ve been an interesting collaboration. Can’t believe Taylor just wrote a typical script and handed it off with a “Good luck, pal!”

        [I found the Batgirls book … passable. Not for me, though, despite being a fan of both Stephanie and Cassandra. Or maybe that’s exactly why, since the pursuit of a spunky, youthful tone seemed to regress both of them, esp. Stephanie, to early-teen goofballs.]

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      2. t is terrible, with King level alterations to established characterization with no explanation and art that looks like you combined Ramos and Sienkiewicz then induced some sort of vision problem.

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  2. I loved this – I knew it was coming because there was a lot of advanced talk about it. It’s probably one of the reasons Redondo took a couple of issues off, though he was probably due for a catch-up break anyway at that point in his run.

    He’s already drawn isolated panels here or there using this technique of multiple after-images of Nightwing in action, but nothing even remotely approached this grand scale.

    One thing about Redondo is, no matter what style he uses that you like, he’s going to try something different soon enough. His style changed mid-way through his run on Suicide Squad, for instance. He went from drawing lots of overlapping panels, to drawing panels in their own separate boxes. So you can’t get too attached to any particular style of his. Fortunately, so far I’ve liked everything he’s done.

    One Easter egg he threw in was his editor Jessica Chen as one of the passersby, rollerblading into a panel. She posts a lot of photos of herself skating on Instagram, and he captured a good likeness. I’ve often complained about her editing, but can’t deny she’s a colorful figure.

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    1. Oh, good spot on Jessica Chen, you forced me to look through the book for other members of the creative team… no luck, unless the man with the cap seen from behind under the ‘Tolay’ sign is Tom Taylor (going by his Twitter pic).

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      1. I’ve never seen Tom Taylor without that cap, and now that I’ve looked closely, I think you’re surely right – it does look like his profile. Good eye! Chen popped out instantly to me, but that was a much easier one.

        A lot of the people look very “specific” so I guess more of them could be luminaries. On the title page there’s a dude with long scraggly hair and a scruffy beard in a red t-shirt, and there’s a tough guy on a pink scooter and those plainclothes cops, and it just feels like they, and others on other pages, could be real people.

        I’m reading Batgirls but wasn’t happy with the 3-part mini (in Urban Legends) leading up to it, or the first solo issue. DC clearly has high hopes for it, sticking a preview of it in every book recently. I’m not into the art OR Cloonan’s and Conrad’s storytelling. When’s the last time there was a good Batgirl book?! Who is the intended audience for this? It’s got the energy of a DC Super-Heroes cartoon.

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  3. Yeah those pages are great. There are books that Panel by Panel would have a harder time with. I’m also thinking of Chris Ware’s ACME Novelty Library and Aja’s Hawkeye series which filtered in many of Ware’s ideas.

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