[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Javier Fernandez, Minkyu Jung, Chris Sotomayor
Following their skirmish with Pyg and his twisted dollotron Deathwing, Dick and Shawn travel to Egypt in search of Damian and his captor Doctor Hurt. Dick reaffirms his feelings for his partner and his imminent commitment as a father.
Nightwing has been the epitome of cool confidence in Blüdhaven and Gotham throughout his tenure with the DC universe. Getting to see Dick in a more revealing light has matured the character a lot in this arc, as we see that trademark confidence progress into something more of a foundation for the life he is attempting to carve out for himself, Shawn and eventually their child. It’s a lot of emotional weight to bring to the character, which is literally implied when a boulder is dropped on the couple.
But it doesn’t feel ham-fisted. In fact, as far as the whole “big heavy thing about to crush a loved one so I better do my best Superman impression” shtick goes, I thought this was pretty damn dramatic. Nightwing doesn’t get dramatic, he gets quippy and makes little jokes while he knocks the lights outta the bad guys – right? Well now he does both.
Speaking of bad guys, Dr. Hurt is pretty creepy. Hurt fulfills his namesake through his own unique brand of psychological analysis where he implements precise stimulus of emotional and psychological trauma that yields specific information on the minds of his adversaries. In simpler terms, he kills people you love to see what you’ll do after. He also has a sweet cloak, so that he stands out in crowds.
This issue paralleled some of the themes from the New 52 run Batman “Death of the Family” arc. The leather-faced enemy, mirror-image of the hero, blaming their loved ones for their weaknesses and pushing them through extreme emotional and psychological trauma that involves Damian Wayne going through some serious stuff all because of his dad’s mental friends. It adds to a sense of Nightwing’s developing maturity as he follows the story beats of his mentor, especially in that of his more recent story arcs. However, we’ll have to hope things go better between Dick and Shawn than they did for Bruce and anyone who isn’t also Bruce.
“You always stand up…” is pushing it for natural dialogue, even when the statement isn’t immediately followed by a huge boulder crashing down on the person you’re saying it to.
Dick and Shawn’s conversation had a nice rhythm going and ending it with a death-feign didn’t feel like a great beat to start the Deathwing showdown with.
If you’re as attached to Damian Wayne as I am — especially after this arc — then you’re going to feel a slight sting. The issue progresses everything we’ve seen in the arc so far, pushing Nightwing further out of his comfort zone and making the most out of close, personal interactions between the active characters.