Nightwing was one of my most anticipated DC Rebirth titles when it was first announced and I’m sure many others shared that same sentiment; that feeling was helped quite a bit by the involvement of one Tim Seeley, one of the writers of the incredible Grayson series, who would be taking over Dick Grayson’s return to his vigilante roots. Was the excitement and anticipation worth it?
Nightwing Vol. 1: Better than Batman (DC Comics)
Written By: Tim Seeley
Artwork By: Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor, and Yanick Paquette
Following both the events of Grayson and Robin War, Dick Grayson is back in the role of Nightwing and going deep undercover into the Court/Parliament of Owls. Letting them think he is under their thumb, our hero is fully prepared to do what’s necessary to destroy this group from the inside out. However, he may have some difficulty when he is partnered with a mysterious and extremely skilled thief named Raptor, who has his own agenda. Let’s see what Nightwing can do as he walks the tightrope between light and dark.
Nightwing Vol. 1 is both a great jumping on point and continuation for fans of the Grayson series. Collecting the Nightwing Rebirth special and issues #1-4 and #7-8, this first volume tells a really fun and enjoyable story that’s easy to get into. For newcomers who didn’t read Robin War or the Grayson series, the Rebirth special pretty much fills you in on every single detail you need to know in an entertaining way as it cuts between several supporting characters, and perhaps most interestingly, Grayson spending time with Damian Wayne, the current Robin. Nightwing Rebirth also divulges who all the characters are and their connection to Dick through some fun banter and action; the issue gets the series off to a great start and the book nearly keeps that level of fun and enjoyment from start to finish.
…I’m in a purple-gloved wearing Batman mood!
Story-wise, the rest of the collection is good, although not without a few flaws. The storyline moves at a very brisk pace as Nightwing goes on missions for the Parliament and eventually teams up with Raptor to do other biddings for the Owls. Tim Seeley wastes absolutely no time, using every issue to further the story and character development by showing how far Nightwing is willing to go, each step of the plan, and his interactions with other characters. It’s a rather dense and tight story overall, more than most comics I’ve read recently and Seeley knows what needs to be done and how long to spend on certain points. The only weaknesses are that the last issue isn’t particularly great (just ends abruptly) and there isn’t enough time spent between Nightwing and Raptor to really sell their brief friendship. I understand why Raptor is interested in Grayson a lot due to what is revealed, but for Grayson to have that much trust in him as well? I’m not fully convinced.
Other than that, the characterization felt mostly on point for everyone in the comic. As he did in Grayson, Seeley really nails the character’s voice and positivity. Nightwing is a character with a strong sense of justice, but also well aware of the line he treads in his missions. Bruce and Damian are well represented as well with their flaws and strengths, though Barbara Gordon seems just slightly off at one point (just completely writing Grayson off didn’t seem too believable). The Court/Parliament of Owls are delightfully, over the top rich villains with lofty goals and very entertaining interactions with Nightwing. I’m slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of their fall and burn, especially with their leader, but hopefully we can follow up on that more in the future. Raptor is the new character introduced and I’m a bit mixed on him. His personality, goals, and such are all written just fine and I understand his aims very well. However, his backstory is a bit tiresome with how he has a connection to Grayson’s past, parents, and history with the traveling circus. We’ve seen this several times before with connections to the Bat-Family’s past, like in the opening arc of the New 52 Nightwing series, such that this reveal doesn’t feel very special and kind of comes in rather late into the story.
So no theater employee thought the weirdo in the snake costume was worth stopping until now?
The artwork is mostly done by Javier Fernandez, with Yanick Paquette drawing the Rebirth issue. Fernandez’s work is perfectly alright, and he does well constructing layouts, presenting very fluid action sequences, depicting characters in motion, and drawing locations. However, his weakness is with the characters’ appearance and his very scratchy art style, due to how limited it feels at depicting a character’s emotion or feeling in their facial or body language. Characters don’t necessarily look their ages, have gigantic foreheads, and their expressions just feel limited. Yanick Paquette’s work pretty much has all of the positives of Fernandez’s art, but also does a solid job at depicting the characters and their body language (outside of the occasional bizarre facial expression). The artwork isn’t bad and at times fits the tone and energy the series has (plus, Fernandez stayed on the arc the entire time), but I wish the art was just a bit better when it came to the characters.
Is It Good?
Nightwing Vol. 1: Better than Batman is a solid start to the new Nightwing series. It’s both a great continuation of what came before in Grayson while also acting as a good entry point for newcomers as well. While the writing and artwork have a few problems, the collection was a load of fun to read, even in the serious moments. If you are a fan of Nightwing, Tim Seeley, or just the Grayson series from before then this is a comic to get into right away.