[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
One of the main themes on which this first arc of Nightwing has focused has been trust. Batman trusting Nightwing, Batgirl trusting Nightwing and Raptor and Nightwing gaining mutual trust. While this has been a longstanding hurdle for Bruce and Dick, Nightwing’s forays with others usually don’t call into question his judgment. So far this arc has dealt heavily with Nightwing allying himself too closely with Raptor. The finale to this arc is no different as we learn a little bit more about Raptor and where Dick stands with Bruce.
Raptor and Nightwing get into the base of the Parliament of Owls and they succeed in breaking out the prisoners they so recently captured for the Parliament. Raptor and Nightwing face the Orator of the Parliament who has gone through some sort of metamorphosis to become a were-owl? He’s a pretty fearsome opponent, however, and the boys must find their way through a labyrinth. Raptor apparently isn’t going to make it, as he’s suffered a seemingly mortal wound and is bleeding out. Nightwing and Raptor finally get to talking and Dick reveals he’s figured out a bit of Raptor’s history. As Dick ends up taking a high dive out of a cliff face only to be rescued by Spyral’s Tiger with a last minute airlift. Dick goes back to Gotham and is debriefed by Batman where Dick’s lingering perception of Batman’s distrust comes to a head. There is also a surprise ending for Raptor. He survived after all and it appears Dick has misjudged Raptor, despite learning that Raptor knew Dick’s mother before she died.
Almost this entire issue feels like a nearly perfect Nightwing story. So often we are used to our heroes being not necessarily infallible, but perpetually capable. What Seeley has been offering in this take on Nightwing is a Dick Grayson who has shown moments of fallibility and capability. The surprise ending lends to this perception as well. However, throughout Seeley has Nightwing’s voice down pat and except for these subtle undercurrents, his characterization is spot on. About this characterization…
While the fallibility and capability issues feel out of place for Dick Grayson, they provide a real conflict and character flaw to exploit in storytelling. Additionally, it seems like we are back tracking by dredging up the Batman/Nightwing trust issues. At this point it’s not really taking the characters anywhere they haven’t been before. Thankfully, Raptor appears as if he will be a true test for Dick Grayson.
This issue would’ve been perfect without the last 2 pages. That said, those last 2 pages provide all the conflict for what comes next. Despite the questionable aspects of Dick’s portrayal, this was still a very good issue that promises more drama to come.