Review: Nightwing #105
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: Bruno Redondo
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Dick and Babs wake up to smelly dog breath and phone call from Dick’s sister, and thus begins an exciting chase through Bludhaven for a vaccine to save a country.
I guess the place to begin is by putting it right out there that Nightwing # 105 jumps to the top of the list for next year’s awards, Eisner’s etc…, you name it, this issue is right there…in ALL categories. Now for the details….
Dick and Babs as a couple continues to be wonderful, it’s been a main element of this series since this creative team too over the title back in the Spring of 2021. It grounds the book to something other than super-heroics. And, while Nightwing #105 isn’t a “date” or “relationship” issue, it’s at the core of who Dick Grayson is and it informs how he operates, and more importantly, how Taylor writes him. It’s very much like how Jeremy Adams used Wally West’s family in his run on The Flash.
If you didn’t read the solicit for this issue, you’re probably not aware that this is a POV issue. We see everything through Dick’s eyes. Like Nightwing #87 that was a single continuous panel, Nightwing #105 is a real visual treat and an amazing artistic triumph for Bruno Redondo. It’s a different type of framing when one has to see everything through the protagonist’s eyes, it takes a completely different approach to create the same types of exciting and engaging storytelling choices when limited to one POV. There are so many clever uses of mirrors and reflective surfaces as well as things that only Nightwing could see. Plus, I’m guessing that it’s Redondo and not colorist Adriano Lucas, but I love the use of Ben Day Dots. It ads something nostalgic, and of course the shading that it’s supposed to be. Lucas has created a unique palette for Nightwing, much like Sarah Stern over in Batgirls. Keeping this consistent despite a change in artists or colorists gives a series a unique feel and look. This fits Nightwing perfectly as it allows the lightness of his character to come through even if he was born and raised in a type of darkness.
Some readers aren’t going to like the subtle political jabs that Taylor makes in this issue. While I can understand that it may take away from the pure fun of such an issue, at the same time, it also gets to the heart of the motivation for all these long-underwear characters since The Phantom first put on his brown/purple jumpsuit back in the funny papers in 1936. These characters have always existed to fight for the moral right even if it isn’t the legal right. It’s tough for people to come to terms with the fact that sometimes laws don’t uphold the moral right. It would be easy to point to something in the past, like slavery and make a point about it, however, a topical issue like the vaccine in Nightwing #105 has a lot more impact and will, perhaps, challenge some readers.
Taylor also nicely brings Heartless back into this issue (Mr. Wing meet Mr. Hole, LOL! Taylor even manages to ad just the right amount of humor.). Including Heartless connects the reader back to what was going on in the series before all the Dark Crisis interruptions. It seems very likely that Heartless will again be the antagonist in future issues. Taylor has played the long game with Heartless and it may be partly because he’s had to incorporate the rise of the Titans into this series. It’s completely logical as Dick is the leader of the Titans, but readers do want to see where the Nightwing / Heartless storyline goes. Or, that it at least goes somewhere. This issue also works as a one off. Any reader could pick this up and have a great time with it. It doesn’t rely on a lot of previous knowledge. Heck, you don’t really need to know anything. It’s that solid a jumping on point.
No disrespect meant to the artists who have been working on Nightwing while Bruno Redondo wasn’t (who approved his vacation?) because it’s not like those were bad issues, but Redondo brings something special. As stated above, the inclusion of the Titans was logical and necessary, but having this be about Dick and Babs just feels…RIGHT. So, not really negatives, just that the strength of this issue will make you forget how much you enjoyed the previous couple storylines.
Nightwing #105 is a guide in how to make a great modern comic book. Quite literally it has everything- an exciting story that’s character driven, maintains the fun but, also makes a statement that elevates, beautifully illustrated and colored, creative in its storytelling, fits into the overall run while also being enjoyed as a one-off and is accessible to new readers. As Power Girl would say-
Look for this to win awards next year. We need a graphic for 6/5!