Nightwing #73 picks up right where we left off last issue: Batgirl is in the clutches of Joker, Punchline, and “Dicky-Boy.” Yup, that is the rather unfortunate nickname that Joker has given Dick Grayson since manipulating him with the mind crystal.
A while ago, Nightwing was shot in the head by KGBeast in Tom King’s Batman run. Since then, we have been following the adventures of Ric Grayson. Luckily with Dan Jurgens taking over the series, I feel there has been some real growth in story and it feels like it matters again. So, why is this a book you should pick up? Let me explain.
First, let’s look at the artwork. We have Ryan Benjamin on pencils, Richard Friend on inks, and Rain Beredo on colors, and they all do a great job. I appreciated the Easter eggs that Ryan hid when we were flashing back to Grayson’s youth — in those flashes, we get homages to Carmine Infantino’s famous dynamic duo rooftop pose along with a twisted version of Detective Comics #69 with an evil Genie Batman instead. Very nice touches as we are traveling down a twisted version of Dick’s new memories, but even more twisted were panels featuring Dick’s parents, really painting them in a dark light. These panels really helped make Grayson’s behavior more understandable.
In the present day, we are treated to some action pages with Batgirl having to defend herself from Dicky-Boy. The action sequences are very crisp, and when the characters make a connection with a blow you can really see the pain (all of them are going to have some serious problems with their teeth). I also enjoyed this version of the Joker because he could be exaggerated but he also didn’t seem completely bonkers. This Joker wasn’t all smiles, and he seemed engrossed in his scheme.
I only have two minor quibbles with the art: the up-close views on some faces had extra detailing that didn’t work, and this one may be more on my end, but I was very curious about Jason Todd’s hood — what was up with it? Maybe I need to read his book.
Can I just say again that I am so glad that Jurgens is on this book? For a while, I was sadly buying this book out of a completist habit instead of truly wanting it. Thankfully, the changes that Jurgens made to Grayson’s past were perfect and it totally would fit why Grayson would work with Joker. It was never Batman and Robin, it was Joker and Dicky-Boy. ….Yeah, I don’t care for the nickname either.
The scheme that Joker is cooking up really makes this tie-in for “Joker War” actually seem fitting. The idea of destroying the Alfred Pennyworth Children’s Hospital and also having the Robins be tricked against Batgirl fits right in with the chaos that Joker loves.
Nightwing #73 is another great issue that gets us closer to some closure with Grayson’s current status. This issue really makes you think how lucky we were to have Ric, because the Joker has created an even worse monster: one who looks like family.