Review: Nightwing: Rebirth #1
On paper, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is a combination of flashbacks featuring supporting characters from Dick Grayson’s days as Agent 37 in Grayson (Including Midnighter, who gets some witty dialogue from writer Tim Seeley), a framing narrative featuring Dick trying to remove a bomb from Damian Wayne’s brain and bonding with him in the process, and finally a teaser of the upcoming Nightwing series featuring blue costumes and espionage. There isn’t a really a plot though as Seeley and artist Yanick Paquette try to pull off the Herculean task of tying together loose ends from both Grayson and Robin War and still giving the Nightwing title a fresh start and a hook. And they almost succeed thanks to some heartwarming character interactions and Paquette’s depiction of Dick Grayson’s cockiness and acrobatics as Nathan Fairbarn uses a variety of color styles to set up the globetrotting feel of the upcoming comic.
Despite the paucity of plot (which has been a problem with some of the new Rebirth titles as they feel like zero issues or prologue and not a new #1), Seeley and Paquette together get what has made Dick Grayson tick as a character in his best appearances: being the sun in the solar system that is the DC Universe. Through his time over the years, the New 52 wiped a lot of those classic relationships out, especially with the Teen Titans and after Dick’s secret identity was exposed in Forever Evil. However, these relationships started to be rebuilt in Grayson Annual #3 featuring guest appearances from Harley Quinn, Azrael, John Constantine, and more, and in Nightwing Rebirth #1, Dick is having them with Damian, Batman and even Tiger and Midnighter from Grayson.
But there’s a little bit of a twist that sets up the conflict in the upcoming Nightwing series as Dick Grayson doesn’t take any time for himself and goes right back to fighting the Parliament of the Owls under the Nightwing moniker that they “re-christened” him with towards the end of Robin War. Dick Grayson is wearing a superhero costume and even fights Z-list supervillains and visits in Wayne Manor in Nightwing Rebirth #1, but he is still very much a spy as he is using his identity of Nightwing to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls.
This spy story with a superhero aesthetic is apparent in Paquette and Fairbarn’s art, which is more bombastic than the sleek subterfuge and occasional mind screwiness of Mikel Janin’s work on Grayson. There are some fantastic full page spreads in Nightwing Rebirth #1 of characters in superhero poses, like Helena Bertinelli donning the costume of Huntress or Dick becoming Nightwing again, or battling monsters and villains, like Dick and Midnighter fighting some freaky unicorn hybrid creature straight out of Neverending Story in the Alps. And the first page of Dick in mid-descent kicking some colorful red, yellow, and orange costumed clowns (No connection to the Joker thankfully.) courtesy of Paquette and Fairbarn sets the stage for the action sequences in the issue, which are bookended by more intimate conversation scenes. The only time that shadow and subterfuge makes an appearance is when the Parliament of Owls shows up, and hopefully Nightwing series artist Raul Fernandez keeps this contrast between shady spycraft and bold superheroics in his art.
Even though it doesn’t tell a full story, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 creates both a mood and aesthetic for the upcoming Nightwing comic as well as catches up readers on the life and relationships of Dick Grayson if they didn’t pick up Grayson or Robin War.
Story: Tim Seeley Art: Yanick Paquette Colors: Nathan Fairbarn
Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review