There have been a lot of Robins since the original high-flying side kick named Dick Grayson joined Batman’s fight against crime and corruption in Gotham City. Earlier generations of fans know him as the first Robin and a different generation sees him as the leader of the Teen Titans, which lead to his eventual transformation into Nightwing.
Like many DC characters over the past ten years, Nightwing’s story has been a difficult one to keep up with due to changes in direction, creative teams, and company wide initiatives. DC Comics latest line-wide revamp is the much less obtrusive Infinite Frontier, which has so far matched up classic characters with solid creative teams, subtly updating aspects of the classic heroes while still keeping all of the elements that define them as the characters we know and love.
Nightwing #78 begins a new story arc (and luckily keeps the most recent numbering, another sign that DC is taking a different approach with Infinite Frontier) that welcomes those who have been keeping up with Dick Grayson’s story over the past few years and also allows an easy entry point for lapsed readers or those that want to sample all of the new DC issues. There is just enough fallout from the recent Bat-crossover “The Joker War” discussed, although if you haven’t been keeping up, you have all the context clues you need to make sense of the story. The main objective for any new creative team is to make their initial story arc accessible to new readers, and the start of “Leaping Into the Light” does this better than most.
Writer Tom Taylor quickly characterizes Grayson as a character that won’t stand by while others are in harm’s way (a trait evident in Dick even as a teen) as witnessed through a flashback sequence. This type of reminder immediately gets us rooting for the original Robin, and then naturally transitions to the adult hero in a similar bullying situation. Taylor’s dialogue truly capture’s Grayson’s voice and his relatable attitude and clear-headed point of view. Everyone wants to be Batman, but it is much easier to see ourselves as Grayson, and Taylor clearly establishes that Nightwing is not the Dark Knight. Those that paint Grayson with the same gritty Bat-brush often miss the point with the character, but Taylor clearly knows what he is doing with him here, and he is immediately likable and relatable.
Taylor is joined by artist Bruno Redondo and his art fleshes out Grayson’s chosen city of Bludhaven and the characters that inhabit it. The cityscapes look realistic (see the highly detailed skyline image above) and make it look different than the familiar confines of Gotham City, further separating Nightwing from associations with his mentor. Redondo also illustrates the story with a wide variety of panel structures, making the art flow in a cinematic fashion from small square close-ups of a distressed dog’s face , to half splash pages of Nightwing crashing onto the scene. Redondo’s style is a perfect compliment to Taylor’s restrained storytelling style, and each character looks distinct and easily recognizable by longtime and new fans (particularly Barbara Gordon and Dick’s Bludhaven nemisis, Blockbuster).
If you haven’t read a Nightwing comic in some time, or if this is your first introduction to the character, Nightwing #78 is an excellent way to come back or begin a new exploration of one of DC Comics most enduring and endearing characters.
Nightwing #78 will be released on March 16 at finer comic book shops everywhere and on a variety of digital platforms.