In Review: Nightwing: Rebirth #1

A good catch all and beginning.

The covers: A pair to pick up for this issue which reintroduces Nightwing back into the DC Universe. The Regular cover is by Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor and it’s pretty fierce. Holding one of his fighting batons before his face during a downpour, Nightwing gives a wicked smile to the reader, as if to say, “We can go there, if you want to…” I like the personality this cover gives him and I really like the droplets beginning to fall upon him — very cool. The coloring is minimal, but works, with his mask and the logo on his chest being a vivid blue, while all else is black and white. Very, very nice. The Variant cover was the one for me, as it shows all of Nightwing’s figure, plus it’s by one of my favorite working artist, Babs Tarr. This has the title character on a white background, standing atop the DC Bullet. What separates this from other variant covers on the Rebirth books is the positioning of his body: he’s three quarters turned away from the reader, with his head turned about to look and smile at well wishers. He looks great, his smile is awesome, and the colors really stand out on this white background. I had to purchase this cover. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: A splash page starts the book with Dick high in the sky stopping the Madmen (Yes, the Steve Ditko created gang) from using a crane to break into the Federal Reserve in Gotham City. As he’s battling these tumbling terrors, he states where the name Nightwing came from, and it has nothing to do with Batman. Avoiding and delivering blows, he goes on to say he can’t take that name back until he does something first, and it’s not beating this gang. The scene then moves to later when he and Damian Wayne are in an arcade. He loves the boy, who was his Robin while he was Batman, and he plays catch up with the teen while they play videogames. Helena Bertinelli comes up, who recruited Dick into the spy agency Spyral, and Dick states his relationship with her may not qualify “as one of my ‘usual dificulties.'” A quick flashback shows why it may be some time before she speaks with him. The book follows this pattern of Dick and Damian speaking of his past, which follows his involvement with characters from the Grayson series, while they make their way to Wayne Manor. As someone who didn’t read past the first issue of that series, there were two characters whose appearances didn’t mean anything. I enjoyed Pages 10 – 12, but I have no idea who that character is and how he fits into Dick’s life. It’s a funny sequence, but it didn’t mean much emotionally for me. I just rolled with it. Tim Seeley then sets the story at Wayne Manor and that’s where I fell into the groove of the book. 14 – 16 returns to a fairly new group of antagonists who’ve been causing all kinds of trouble for Batman and, now revealed, to Grayson. They make a visual and political change, but I just didn’t care. The final three pages return to Wayne Manor and I was happy again. The end of the book places Dick Grayson back in his familiar uniform and back into the world to right wrongs. I’m on board for more adventures. Overall grade: B 

The art: With a group of villains like the Madmen, an artist has got to be able to go full-on Ditko, imitating his style, or be able to adapt them well enough so they look as if they fit in with the current state of comics. Yanick Paquette makes this book rock. The Madmen look completely compatible with the current DC Universe, battling Grayson on a skyscraper. The point of view of this full paged splash is is great, the villains look freakishly fierce, and Dick looks completely at ease as he takes them out. The next two pages have two panels that go across the gutter, showing a nicely detailed setting where several people are playing games in an arcade; even an extra’s face on the far right of the first panel receives a tremendous amount of detail, hypnotized by the game before him. The slight smiles that Damian and Dick exchange in this location reinforce the respect they have for one another, with the younger man flashing much more mischievous grins. The final panel on 3 is a nice visual tip off for the reader that one character’s words contain much weight. The full paged splash on 5 is good, showing off the character’s look completely. Another full paged splash is on 7, with a really incredibly action sequence occurring. This looks great, but my heart’s not as attached to it, since I don’t know who these characters are. There’s another full-paged splash on 10, but this one is funny because of one character’s design, which is intended to make the reader giggle, and it does. The device shown on 12 is very intriguing: it’s obviously technical, but it has an almost Steampunk look to it to make its use questionable; I like that Paquette did that with this item. The arrival of the character on 13 is terrific, and his reaction in the final panel on the page outstanding. The final three pages have the biggest punch of the book because Dick is stating why he’s returning to being Nightwing, but what he’s looking at as he discusses this with another character is just perfect visual storytelling. The top panel on 19 is awesome: I like that two characters are sharing a locking of eyes; one in the present, one in the past. It’s great. The last page has Nightwing finally appear and it’s magnificent. This final page has me on fire to see what happens next. Overall grade: A

The colors: The bright colors of the Madmen bring a colorful splash to this book’s opening. Nathan Fairbairn smartly colors the background in lighter colors to have the reader focus on the characters. The same technique is done in the arcade, with Dick and Damian bright and all others given lighter shades; though the boy on the far right is rightfully doused in the blue light emitting from his game’s screen. The colors of the individual on 5 dominate the page, and they should for that’s the color that’s associated with her. The colors on the giant creature on Page 10 are terrific. They are completely out of place from the normal world, even in the world of comic books, and also increase the humor of the scene. The yellows on the door are great on 11 and 12. The shading of characters’ skin on 13 is spectacular, highlighted by the vivid blues of their eyes. And please take note of the slick change of colors on the final page: the costume that’s been brightly colored for two pages has been faded, giving way to the new outfit. A subtle but sharp changing of the guard. Overall grade: A

The letters: Carlos Mangual creates scene settings, narration, computer text, dialogue, signage, editorial notes, an animal moan, sounds, the book’s title, and the book’s credits. I really love the scene settings, which are very dramatic, but the narration is exceptional, an unmistakably different font that tells the reader that he or she is in the character’s head. My only grouse is that the book’s credits are the smallest I’ve seen in years! I wear glasses, but I felt I had to have a microscope to read those. C’mon, DC! Overall grade: A- 

The final line: This book encapsulates what’s happened to Dick Grayson and justifies why he wants to resume the identity of a previous persona. A good catch all and beginning. Okay, Nightwing — Let’s go! Overall grade: A-

To find out more about this book and others that feature Nightwing go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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