Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor
Raptor brings anarchy to the Marcus casino by drugging half the gamblers with Marcus Desmond’s (AKA ‘the original’ Blockbuster) super-strength serum, in his attempt to rain terror down upon all of Bludhaven in his crusade to fight corruption and his vendetta against Nightwing. The chaos on the casino floor reveals Dick to Roland Desmond as a spy within his casino staff, despite their agreement to work together to help the city.
While the unlikely pair work out their trust issues over a melee with some super strong, super dim, relatively drunk psychopaths and an old friend to boot; the Run-Offs arrive on the scene to help contain the horde of hulking psychos from the city streets, and to put an end to Pigeon and Raptor’s evil scheme to poison the city.
This issue has a very fast pace and a lot of action, starting off in the casino while everyone is turning into muscly monsters and following through to the city streets with Grimm and Stallion, and the elevator shaft escape with Nightwing, Desmond and (surprise) a serum-filled Tiger Shark. One of the better lines of dialogue come from the start of the issue, with Roland defending one of his poisoned staff members while turning on Nightwing for betraying his trust. With Roland being a relatively flexible character who tends to rise above petty issues like this, it’s interesting to see how much more emotional he can become when confronted with the same issues while taking his brother’s serum, and how his dialogue and his attitude changes accordingly.
All that action didn’t leave a lot of time for small talk, however Nightwing still manages to squeeze in an internal dialogue about the trapeze and the circus, and we get our first sequence showing Pigeon and Raptor together while they monologue villainously about their relationship, associates and future plans. It was definitely interesting to see Raptor with his guard down and falling for Pigeon’s rally speeches, where in a similar position Shawn (AKA Defacer) remained unconvinced and say Pigeon for what she was to some extent, Raptor instead lets Pigeon justify his anger while she encourages him to persist with her.
The Run-Offs go back to the narrowest margin of the side-lines in this issue, with only Grimm and Stallion appearing to make a quip and throw a punch and Shawn shoving some exposition through the phone at Nightwing. The Run-Offs aren’t supposed to be the center of the show, however said phone call was the first time Shawn and Nightwing have spoken in a while and happens pages after Nightwing is thinking about her (and Helena), and after the past few issues showing them chase towards the same goal I figured it was an appropriate time for an actual reunion between Dick and Shawn, which incidentally would bring the Run-Offs a little closer the action.
Action-packed and fast-moving, this explosive issue moves the story forward and provides more context on the now dual threat of Pigeon and Raptor, while lining up all of the players ready to deal with the rebellious pair. There isn’t a lot of time spent expanding on the Run-Offs and they remain mainly on the perimeter of the story this time, however there is still a lot of great content from the villains as they make their move against Bludhaven.