[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez
In this final issue, Nightwing comes to terms with his inner demons and tries to break free of Dr. Hurt’s psychological chains. Shawn Tsang helps a vulnerable Deathwing deal with the guilt he feels for his actions while under the control of Pyg, and Damian does a thing with his liver that would make his granddaddy proud, if a little disgusted.
There isn’t much I don’t love about this final issue. Nightwing is forced into a potentially-mind breaking hallucination in which he believes five years have passed since Dr. Hurt killed Damian Wayne on the altar in the desert. Nightwing has become trapped within the murderous identity of Deathwing and has ruthlessly hunted those responsible in Damian’s murder in a spree of guilt-ridden vengeance.
Dick reflects on the advice he gave to Damian when he first became Robin, as the pain of Hurt’s trance becomes too much for him to bear. Remembering what he sought to accomplish with the Robin in the first place, to never be “defined by tragedy” he breaks free, knocks the doc out and saves his little brother. It might sound a little tidy, but this final issue felt satisfying.
Dick comes away at the end with a newfound inner strength that will surely add to the character in stories to come. Nightwing feels aged, battle-worn, but very clearly still connected to the energy and brashness that defines him. The end result is a not-too-heavy, not-too-vapid conclusion which wraps up the dark and beautiful artwork Fernandez has provided us across the arc with an ending to the story in which Seeley captures Nightwing’s big, bright heart.
Opposing Dick’s heart of gold, would be Deathwing’s blackened pip of guilt-ridden despair. Our villain was handled so well, with lots of depth to help make that climactic clinch all the more emotional. The artwork for Deathwing – both as Dick’s delusion and as the Dollotron himself, is twisted and sharp and gorgeous and really adds something special to those moments between Deathwing and Tsang. Deathwing is my favourite killer clone guy now, 10/10, want more.
Now, for the best bit; Damian. Do I focus on Damian too much sometimes? No, I don’t. He deserves the focus. He earns it. How does he earn it? By surviving a sacrificial stabbing in the stomach whilst bound to a stone altar by pulling some League of Shadow muscles and displacing his liver to avoid the blade…this is why I love the little murder child. The exchange between Damian and Tsang, where he relayed this little trick, might have been one of the best things I’ve read in a while. Thank you Tim Seeley.
The final issue of the “Nightwing Must Die” arc is a brilliant read, with a deep and meaningful plotline that brings out the most in Nightwing and all the supporting characters. The Fernandez’ artwork is stunning, Damian Wayne’s dialogue is the best it’s ever been.