Nightwing Annual (2022) #1 walks the line between plot importance and fun perfectly as it details important information through engaging stories. The issue is comprised of three short stories, two of which will be heavily important to the future and one that will put a smile on most readers’ faces. In an issue with three writers, one for each story, and two artists, Nightwing Annual (2022) #1 is an enjoyable read for new and returning readers. Altogether, the issue wraps up the first big arc of Tom Taylor’s run on Nightwing while laying the groundwork for what lies ahead.
Writer Tom Taylor partners artist Eduardo Pansica for a story that finally answers who’s behind Heartless’s mask. Ever since Nightwing #78, there has been a looming question over the series: who is Heartless? Although many readers have likely figured it out by now, the annual finally confirms the answer – which may be obvious, but it’s also essential to the story as it creates Dick’s antithesis. The artistic duo of Pansica and Miranda depict vividly graphic stories that create a horrifying origin for Heartless. After seeing Taylor write such a joyful last issue, it’s refreshing to see an eerie story that certainly doesn’t bode well for Nightwing’s future.
In addition, the story also provides one of the most creative ideas in “Bitewing Year One” that shows us what may be going on in that pup’s mind. It’s not very plot important, but it sure is a fun and enjoyable story. Writer Jay Kristoff is paired with artist Eduardo Pansica for a day in the life of Haly Grayson. Much of the dialogue is corny and light, but what else could you expect from the mind of Bludhaven’s favorite puppy? Pansica excels at portraying emotion across the story, and this issue is evidence of how the dramatic flair he brings to the issue works to benefit the story. The story isn’t very necessary to the overarching plot of the series, but manages to be a fun interlude.
The final story arguably may be the most important part of the issue because of the setup for the larger DCU it provides. Dick is no stranger to leading; it’s what he does best, and it seems Superman is his next student. Jon and Dick’s dynamic has been pushed throughout the DCU, and it’s one of the most interesting collaborations between different generations of heroes. Writer C.S. Pacat is paired with artist Inaki Miranda as Dick furthers his mentorship with Jon by teaching him an important lesson: restraint. Inaki Miranda might now be one of my favorite artists for Nightwing after this issue alone because of his attention to detail. Seeing Nightwing with a little flow to his hair is a small detail, but one that just fits. Similarly, Pacat immediately showcased his capabilities in writing Nightwing in this short story. Interweaving Dick’s intelligence and empathy is an uphill battle for even the most familiar writers to depict, but Pacat does it perfectly.
Nightwing Annual (2022) #1 is a rollercoaster of stories, from grim to camp to compassionate. Each story not only stands on its own but reminds people why they should be reading Nightwing right now. Overall, the issue marks a great jumping point for new fans going into 2023 while subtly building anticipation for the series’ landmark 100th issue.
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