Agent 37 has been decommissioned and Nightwing is back! This issue shows us that transition, but is it good?
Nightwing: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official DC summary reads:
He’s been Robin, Batman, a spy, a ghost. Now, Dick Grayson returns to Gotham City to reclaim the life that was taken from him. But when a new evil threatens those he loves most, Nightwing faces being torn away from home once again in order to destroy the dark force once and for all. Powerhouse artist Yanick Paquette (BATMAN, SWAMP THING) joins series writer Tim Seeley (GRAYSON, BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL) to return Nightwing to the DC superhero stage!
Why does this book matter?
Though there’s probably too many Robins and Batgirls running around I’m for a more robust supporting cast for Batman. He’s about to get it as Nightwing comes back to Gotham and Tim Seeley and Yanick Paquette aim to show us how that transition takes place.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue successfully reminds us how much more complex Nightwing is since he held the mantle of the world trotting Agent 37. While he’s coming to Gotham to help Batman, the flashbacks in this issue show us maybe he’ll be bringing even more threats and drama than Batman will want as well. That said, the Court of Owls are still there – and still think they have their thumb on Dick – and it’ll be interesting to see how his rather unique relationship with them will play out. Being a Rebirth issue there is more table setting than actual adventure in this issue, but Seeley does a good job establishing Dick’s bond with Damien (they were Batman and Robin after all) and the potential for some Midnighter goodness in Gotham.
Seeley does a fantastic job reminding us why Dick Grayson is unique from all the other Robins and most importantly why he took on the name Nightwing at all. By the end of the issue you’ll be very confident in who Dick is, how he brings a whole slew of new stories to the Bat-verse, but also how his more chipper outlook on life lightens the typically darker tone of the Batman books.
Frame this page!
Paquette proves once again he could draw two characters walking down the street in an interesting way — which he literally does in this issue, but with the subtlest of facial expressions and interesting use of panels he proves he can tell an emotional story in the simplest of settings. One of the best panels involves an onlooking Batman who is concerned about Nightwing and it perfectly encapsulates concern, pride, and caring all with Batman’s mask still on. Impressive.
It’s not all dialogue heavy panels with characters walking down the street though! There’s an epic full page spread of Midnighter and Dick taking on a, “Killacorn” for instance, and the first page has a rather classic looking death-defying page of Dick taking on some baddies on a crane.
The colors by Nathan Fairbairn are quite nice too with a good use of bright reds and blues to show off our hero in action and the strong inks and lines of Paquette. When the characters aren’t suited up or fighting the colors do well to tone things down and remind us these characters live in the real world.
That is a pretty cool monster.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue is dense which affects the pace. It cuts quite a few times from action to action, to action and quieter moments quite a few times. Combined this is a good comic, but at the same time it doesn’t feel cohesive enough and its singular purpose isn’t felt consistently. It does a hell of a lot, but it’s so varied from scene to scene it’s hard to grasp the tone or purpose aside from setting up plots.
Is It Good?
As far as Rebirth issues go Nightwing: Rebirth succeeds at setting up quite a few plot threads and character dynamics. Most importantly the character of Dick Grayson is very well-defined and this issue reasserts the fact that Nightwing is a character we should be keeping our eyes on.