After a roughly decade-long break from comic books, I started reading again in summer 2016. As fate would have it, my return lined up with the start of DC Rebirth. I looked at the various fresh number ones on the shelves of my LCS, debating which series to give a chance. Thanks to its awesome cover art, I decided on Nightwing. I was a Dick Grayson fan by the first arc’s conclusion, and I’ve stuck with the book since. There’s been a lot of good, as well as a lot of bad, since. Last issue marked the beginning of a new creative team’s run, and I wasn’t fond of it, but sometimes it just takes creators a minute to find their footing. Does Nightwing #45 steer the series onto the right track?
One of my main complaints with the last issue was how illogically this arc’s new hologram technology (called Phantasm) was spreading through Blüdhaven. This issue answers some of my questions, although I’m not entirely satisfied with the results. It’s revealed that Phantasm devices are being delivered for free all around the city, which explains how small businesses can afford such state-of-the-art tech. This issue’s further developments of the plot leave something to be desired, though. We get hints about some tech company and doxxing, but the mystery isn’t particularly interesting to follow. I’m left not caring about the details, rather than eagerly anticipating the next clue or actively trying to solve the mystery myself.
Unfortunately, the portions of this issue devoted to Dick’s personal life aren’t much better. A lot of page-time is given to Dick’s romantic feelings for Barbara, as well as his uncertainty over what the ideal state for their relationship would be. I may not be a fan of the couple, but I recognize that Dick/Babs soap opera writing isn’t inherently bad–different readers have different tastes. With that said, it’s hard for me to imagine even fans of the pairing getting much out of the plot here. The whole subplot feels like its retreading ground that’s been covered several times before, and ineffectively at that. The issue opens with the two characters waking up naked in bed together, with no recollection of the previous night. From that point onward, things progress with more predictable inner monologues and cliches that fail to intrigue. It’s not that writer Benjamin Percy doesn’t do a terrible job–the characters’ voices are consistent and the pacing is solid–but he doesn’t provide much to latch onto either.
My favorite thing about this issue by far is the art. Chris Mooneyham’s work here (with inks by Klaus Janson) doesn’t always feel polished, but I dig his style. The characters are consistently rendered (no changing face syndrome here), the architecture is impressively detailed, and there’s a nice variety of angles throughout the panel compositions. Mooneyham’s take on Dick is reminiscent of his late ’90s/early ’00s self, so fans of that era of Nightwing are likely to enjoy this version’s look.
Colorist Nick Filardi also contributes to art’s success with work that is pleasing to look at, and skylines that change in hue to match the changing times of day. As always, letterer Carlos M. Mangual delivers solid work with which I have no complaints. My main cons with this issue’s visuals are just some occasional wonky anatomy and pages that look more rushed than others.
Overall, this isn’t a good issue. The best part is the artwork, which for all its charm is still rough around the edges and looks rushed in patches. The writing fails to intrigue, as seeds of a plot grow but don’t beg for attention. The Dick/Babs relationship may not be a favorite of mine, but even I wish it was better handled here. What’s more, this issue’s cover asks who–and what–Wyrm is. I still don’t know, and worse, I don’t care to find out. Nightwing #45 is by no means a notably bad comic, but it’s not worth spending four dollars on either.
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