Nightwing continues to be my favorite ongoing comic from DC, and this week’s issue truly cemented this. Thanks to Alfred’s inheritance, Dick Grayson has decided to act as a cushion for the poor and powerless among Bludhaven’s population. With the death of the previous mayor at the hands of Blockbuster, the head of the city’s organized crime, a new mayor is soon to be inaugurated. However, she answers to both Salvatore Maroni and Blockbuster, so it seems Nightwing is going to have his hands full going forward. Minor spoilers for Nightwing #81 ahead!
Over the last couple of issues, we’ve seen the poor of Bludhaven not only being forced to deal with the large presence that the crime families have, but also a mysterious killer who revels in the fear of those he believes are beneath him. Heartless, while posing a smaller-scale threat to Bludhaven compared to Blockbuster, is still quite dangerous due to his desire to inspire fear in the weak. Even with Oracle and Robin’s (Tim Drake) help, the combined weight of all the responsibility Nightwing is placing on himself seems to be too much for him.
However, as dark as things may seem, there is still hope left for those in Bludhaven thanks to the bright light Nightwing brings into the darkness. The lengths he goes to protect the citizens of Bludhaven while making sure to put on a brave face for them is why I love the way Tom Taylor writes Nightwing. He still feels larger than life, while also feeling grounded due to his personality and lack of superpowers.
However, that is not to say that the action isn’t still flashy. Artist Bruno Redondo has held a firm grasp over the eyes of the reader with the way he organize the panels. The bright colors set by the flames of the opening fight between Nightwing and Heartless are breathtaking as well, with Adriano Lucas perfectly complementing the visual spectacle of Redondo’s line and inkwork. The panel where you can see Nightwing’s reflection in the gold of Heartless’ helmet is easily the standout panel of the entire issue. However, even the simpler action panels still pop due to the uniqueness of the panel layout.
This was a fantastic fourth issue of Taylor, Redondo and Lucas’s Nightwing run. The twist at the end of the issue has the potential to vastly change the course that story appeared to be heading in. It’s great to continue to see Tim Drake and Barabara Gordon working so closely with Dick and I am glad their dynamic is getting so much attention. Combined with the uniqueness of the art compared to the other Bat-family titles and the incredible writing make Nightwing stand out alongside DC’s other ongoing titles, and I am not just saying that because I am a huge Nightwing fan.