Review: Nightwing #78
Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas begin their run on Nightwing with a heart-render of a first issue that really shows what makes Dick Grayson tick as a person and a hero. It also sets up some train tracks for future developments in the title and has a cute puppy to boot. Opening with a six page flashback featuring a young Dick and Barbara Gordon, Nightwing #78 pays tribute to the character’s past, but it’s also forward-thinking as well with our protagonist getting an opportunity to improve life in Bludhaven on a larger scale than beating up Orca, Blockbuster, or whatever Metropolis or Gotham villains decide to pay a visit to his city.
Taylor and Redondo wisely sidestep yet another re-tread of Dick Grayson’s origin, but they do spend Nightwing #78 showing how trauma has shaped his life. But, instead of turning him angry or isolated like certain other heroes, Dick Grayson is all about building and maintaining relationships with the people (or animals) he comes into contact with whether he’s dressed up in his Nightwing or Robin costume or just going about his day. We see this in the flashback where he protects one of his classmates from a bully and also gets to duck and weave a little bit and knock the teeth out of the son of one of Gotham’s most corrupt insurance company owners. There’s definitely a little bit of the hero who’s not afraid to stand up against in corruption in young Dick, and Taylor and Redondo even make certain fans happy by having a young Barbara Gordon show up to help. This scene is really sweet and re-establishes the friendships Dick has with Barbara and had with Alfred Pennyworth (He helps him do the dishes!) as well as his generally altruistic attitude. He’s always ready to help out whether that’s standing up to a school bully or punching someone in a killer whale costume.
Tom Taylor structures Nightwing #78 as a study in contrasts between Dick Grayson and Melinda Zucco. Dick is the scion of two good men, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne, while Melinda is the daughter of a corrupt murderer, Tony Zucco, who also killed Dick’s parents. She has two scenes in the book, and for now, she looks just like a pawn/yes person for the jacked up crime lord Blockbuster, who is the real power in Bludhaven and totally cool with squashing the heads of public officials that don’t play ball with him. Colorist Adriano Lucas bathes her scenes with shadow and dim light while Bruno Redondo draws Blockbuster towering over her while she takes direction from him and doesn’t even react when his henchman disposes of the old mayor’s body like a candy wrapper. However, the whole passive thing might just be an act, and Melinda’s final scene in the comic hints at a character with a thirst for revenge and finishing what her dad started. She’s definitely smarter than the old mayor.
While Melinda Zucco works within the corrupt system of Bludhaven in Nightwing #78, Dick Grayson wants to dismantle it in both big and small ways. He rescues a puppy that is being kicked around by some sadistic men while also trying to figure out how to keep the rent in his apartment complex affordable after losing access to his Wayne Enterprises funds during the events of “Joker War”. This macro/micro approach to Nightwing’s extends to how the comic is written and drawn. During action scenes, Bruno Redondo’s art is super kinetic with all kinds of speed lines and silhouettes while Tom Taylor’s narrative captions add context and look at the bigger picture of what Nightwing is trying to accomplish. We don’t just get him trying to sniff out an intruder in his apartment: Taylor gives the whole backstory behind where he has decided to live. He’s always drawing parallels throughout the events the story like Dick thinking back to how he acted after his parents passed away when his new puppy bites him.
In Nightwing #78, Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas plot out a familiar, yet new path for Dick Grayson. He’s in Bludhaven and eventually going up against Blockbuster, but Taylor and Redondo add all kinds of lovely bits of characterization like pausing to let him finally grieve over Alfred and bond with a new puppy. From this issue, it seems that they care about Dick as a person just as much as a superhero, and they also start to craft an antagonist that is a shattered mirror of him without being cheesy and putting her in a “Dark Nightwing” costume or something. All in all, this issue is a charming read and worth checking out whether this is your first or 201st Nightwing comic
Story: Tom Taylor Art: Bruno Redondo
Colors: Adriano Lucas Letters: Wes Abbott
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review