If you are a trade-waiter or just plain missed the sold-out issues of Nightwing, now is the perfect time to get yourself back on track. DC Comics is releasing its first hardcover collection of the ongoing Nightwing series by a new creative team with Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and others who love Dick Grayson. This new innovative team took over the series in issue #78, and WOW, it exceeded expectations! This creative team found ways to get my attention and hype. Inside this hardcover is a collection of issues #78 to #83, covering the arc “Leaping into the Light.”
I love that this collection has “light” in the title, because the art team does a beautiful job of taking the edgy darkness out of Nightwing’s world. The use of shading and natural light is perfectly blended together and fused with hints of neon that give us an atmosphere of dark, seductive, dangerous nights that lead us into bold days that try to shoo away the greedy impulses. This is one of the few comic series where I’ve noticed myself spending more time looking at the background than actually reading.
Looking at the individual issues, starting with issue #78: the love and skill that this creative team brings to the world of Nightwing are exciting and heartwarming. I’m sure you’ve seen from the early art by Bruno Redondo how beautiful a world he has crafted, and the addition of the new style of escrima stick is an excellent throwback to Dick’s history and totally makes sense. It’s crazy it took over 80 years to bring that new “signature” to this device. The villains you’ll see here are great choices and exciting teases for future issues in the collection and overall series. Plus, that cute dog is here — you can’t say no to a hero and their best friend. Taylor, Redondo, Lucas, and the whole team have done Dick Grayson and his history justice.
Issue #79, featured a beautiful Easter egg for fans. Pay attention to the pizza shop that Dick and Barbara are going to, because you will be treated to three fantastic people in the comics business: We get to see Marv Wolfman and George Perez, which hits even deeper considering the recent news about Mr. Perez.
It caught my eye when Dick yells to the kitchen for Shannon to “keep ’em coming.” So, who is Shannon? If I’m correct, this is Shannon Lower, a model for a character of Perez’s from his Crimson Plague comics, and she considers George to be like a father to her. We’re not even halfway through this issue, and the creative team has shown so much depth for their knowledge of comics history and people, which tells me Grayson is in the right hands. This issue raises emotions with character and panels that make it fun and heartwarming.
In part three, issue #80, the darkness of Bludhaven starts to get real as Dick and Babs become aware of the gruesome troubles in the city and missing children — it’s time for them to get to work. Redondo does a great job here with a two-page spread that takes the reader across Dick’s apartment, and it is a fun zig-zag across rooms, presented as panels. The art treats your eyes here as you watch for these fun moments with Haley — for a laugh, you should check out Dick and Babs’s coffee mugs. We get more of the Bat-family in this issue with a guest appearance by Tim Drake, aka Robin. I loved seeing what Dick and Tim used to have in the ’90s — it was so enjoyable to see that their relationship is just as fresh and doesn’t miss a beat. We get some undercover work and a Dynamic Duo fight scene with Tim’s involvement. Redondo has fantastic poses and even more creative enhancements for Nightwing’s escrima sticks.
The significant changes to Dick Grayson continue in part four, issue #81, and I’ll admit I was skeptical at first about it, but I trust in Tom Taylor. Newly appointed mayor Melinda Zucco takes a focus here as we discover more of her interactions with the criminal underworld of Bludhaven and manage to reach Nightwing’s radar. It makes sense that these two would intersect, considering her father killed Dick’s parents, but it turns out there’s more to their past and deeper connections with their families. We also get a fantastic showdown between Nightwing and Heartless in a ring of fire. The two characters move powerfully and gracefully as they duel, but in the end, Heartless plays dirty. Those raised emotions start to take a turn for the worrying side of things as Nightwing gets captured and unmasked.
Part five, issue #82, changed history, perfectly executed by the creative team. One of the highlights here was how good the Grayson family is. We’ve known Dick to be a hero and a major staple in the hero community, and Tom Taylor uses that point perfectly when it comes to the “Big Bird Extraction.” Those moments of humor and family are working perfectly, allowing guest stars to pop in. As I mentioned earlier with the questions about John Grayson, it was like Tom was reading my mind. The creative team behind this decision probably wanted to make sure and find a way to have this new reveal without causing drama to the Grayson family and adding to the dirt on Tony Zucco’s character. This part of the story showcases the love that people both real and fictional have for Dick Grayson, but we are not out of disaster just yet — someone evil is coming to visit for that great cliffhanger.
The conclusion of the arc in issue #83, a smash hit. The entire story is an excellent example of what DC’s Infinite Frontier should be about: embracing character and history. Dick Grayson once again feels like an important character, even when outside the costume. The love and adventure appear while entertaining all types of fans. The best aspects have to be the guest appearances by family. Some of them are small bits, like the moments for Leslie Thompkins, the Titans, and Lucius Fox, but it drives how many people are there and believe in Dick Grayson. I know Tom Taylor is a huge fan of Superman, and it is such a joy to see him write these two classic characters together. Tom and Bruno craft a beautiful moment that shows the respect and admiration these two have, plus we should see that seed grow in future issues of this series and Tom’s Superman too.
Nightwing Vol. 1: Leaping Into the Light is a perfect collection that will make new and returning fans alike excited to join the world that this new creative team is creating. Excellent elements of character growth have you enjoying all aspects of Dick Grayson’s life inside and out of the suit; wonderful, playful moments of Bat-family interaction spread across. A new villain will drive you to revisit this series and a worthy challenge from an older villain that proves our hero’s worth. Art that lights up a dark world makes our heroes brighter and radiates a sense of hope. A perfect collection to give to a new comics reader or yourself.
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