The “Nightwing Must Die!” story arc continues with a third installment chock full of art history references, Deathwing acting sinister, and Dick Grayson having feelings. So, is it good?
Nightwing #18 (DC Comics)
Deathwing, from his unflinching brutality to the fact that he looks like a fighting game’s player 2 color swap of Nightwing, has often felt like the main villain that this arc is building up for an epic final showdown. That might still happen in a future issue, but Nightwing #18’s great villain moments are all about Professor Pyg. The issue begins with Pyg waxing poetic about artists’ natures and pregnancy metaphors, and things just get more dramatic (yet campy) from there. Dick and Damian make their entrance in a dynamic splash page that instantly gets one excited for the action sequences that follow.
This issue is a lot of fun, but it is also emotionally moving at all the right moments. Pyg’s over-the-top speeches are fantastic, as is the Dollotron modeled after Damian. The brainwashed Boy Wonder dupe gives Dick and Damian a much needed speech about their brotherhood and how much they need each other, and his conviction is as amazing as the bond he’s describing. Seeing Dick and Damian bickering and fighting side-by-side again is awesome. Writer Tim Seeley’s dialogue is on-point throughout the entire issue, and the pacing is excellent. The beginning, middle, and end all feel both exciting and necessary; Seeley spends just enough time on each scene before shifting to the next.
Javier Fernandez is on the art as usual, along with Minkyu Jung. As is the norm for this series, the action is well-choreographed, and most of the panel layouts are fantastic. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are also on-point, resulting in final pages that exemplify how great visual storytelling can be. From the writing to the art to the coloration, the whole creative team is on their game this issue. As I mentioned previously, Professor Pyg is the standout villain of the moment, but Deathwing gets some great moments as well. Thankfully, he’s starting to come into his own as an interesting character instead of just a generic anti-Dick Grayson.
This issue juggles a lot of different characters with resounding success. My main complaint is that Shawn Tsang, despite getting a quick moment in the spotlight, continues to feel underutilized. Her character and relationship with Dick show a lot of potential, so it’s disappointing to see those aspects of the series get rushed so much. Overall though, this series continues to deliver. Nightwing #18 is a blast.