After being reunited last issue, Dick and Shawn go off to save Damian. Along the way, Deathwing and Dr. Hurt show back up. Is this issue good?
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez, Minkyu Jung
Publisher: DC Comics
The best thing this issue has going for it is the art. Javier Fernandez and Minkyu Jung deliver stellar work on a lot of fronts. The composition choices they make throughout the issue are great, and allow the action in the fight scenes to flow believably. The latter half of the issue has some particularly good use of negative space, as Dick makes his way through a dark tomb setting. Colorist Chris Sotomayor’s work is strong as always, particularly in the issue’s first fight scene. His renderings of sand and night skies are beautiful.
With all that said, there are a few artistic choices that aren’t as effective. The latter half of the issue has several pages that, rather than utilizing a small number of panels effectively, just feel like they’re not making good use of their canvas. This contributes to the general sense that not enough happens in the issue. The opening splash page, however, is fantastic and helps to make up for some of the later ones.
So far I’ve focused on the art team, largely because the writing in this issue isn’t very notable. Tim Seeley’s work here isn’t bad, but it’s not his best. The opening fight scene feels over-crowded with exposition captions. A little less would have done a little more for me; as is, exposition feels like “tell, don’t show.” The opening fight scene also feels unneeded in general. We don’t get any new pertinent information; it just seems to serve as a backdrop for the “Previously in Nightwing…” exposition.
I’m also not a big fan of how Shawn is used in this issue. She’s been rescued, good. She’s accompanying Dick on his mission? Great. Seeing the two fight alongside each other at the beginning of the issue felt like a good omen. Unfortunately, it was less an omen and more of an exception. Shawn is narratively pushed out of the way later on long enough for another Nightwing versus Deathwing match, and this version of Deathwing continues to be uninspiring. We get some cool dialogue from Shawn about how helping him, and how helping people is what she does, but ultimately it’s not enough to maintain much of my interest. Similarly, Dr. Hurt has yet to really grip me in this arc. We get some inkling of Hurt toying with Dick’s psychological state in this issue, but not enough exploration of that for it to be very interesting.
All things considered, this is a good issue. The writing doesn’t feel bad so much as ineffectively decompressed. There are a lot of ideas here with great potential; my qualm is that said potential has yet to be actualized. Problems with the issue’s pacing are partially made up for by the fantastic art team, who continue to deliver a title that is very pretty to look at, while also feeling classically superheroic. Nightwing #19 is a good time, and hopefully the next issue will pick up the pace a bit.