The “Nightwing Must Die!” arc concludes in this week’s Nightwing #20. Is this a satisfying ending?
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Publisher: DC Comics
This storyline has featured a lot of villains, including Deathwing and Dr. Simon Hurt. Going into this issue, I was unsure if the two characters’ could both have their arcs wrapped up satisfactorily in such little page time. Reading the issue, my concern was validated. Dr. Hurt’s shtick throughout this arc created an expectation that we would get a lot of psychoanalysis of Nightwing and, while we get some, we didn’t get enough. This issue didn’t add much in terms of making Dr. Hurt feel like a true nemesis, rather than just a villain of the week.
Deathwing’s last moments in the arc are similarly underwhelming. The character continues to show potential, and said potential continues not to be capitalized upon. Events are left open-ended so that Deathwing could return in later issues, and I hope that he does. Perhaps he could shine brighter in a future storyline where he’s not just one of several villains. His showing here, however, is simply disappointing. After several issues of build-up, the payoff is nearly nonexistent. As a result, the arc feels both rushed and overly drawn out. On one hand, it feels like we needed more narratively. On the other hand, so little happened that it feels like this storyline could have been more condenses.
Not all is bad narratively, however. The issue’s ending features a quiet moment between Dick and Damian, and it is much appreciated. After all of the bickering between the two in this arc, it’s nice to see a callback to their days spent working as a team that is much more touching and upbeat. The way the moment ends feels a bit cliché, and I wish we would have gotten just a little bit more time with those characters just talking, but overall it was a nice ending to an otherwise inconsistent story arc.
The art in this issue is decent. It’s not the series’ best, but it’s not its worst either. The best part of the art in this issue is probably the facial expressions. Javier Fernandez does a fantastic job of depicting the characters’ most emotional moments. We also get a really well laid-out two page spread near the issue’s end, as well as some beautiful colors (courtesy of Chris Sotomayor). The art is never bad, it just isn’t all at Fernandez’s peak quality.
Overall, this issue isn’t bad. The art is serviceable to good, and the ending hits some of the touching character notes that have made this series so enjoyable. The actual plot just isn’t handled well enough for the issue to be great, though. I wasn’t left intrigued by Simon Hurt, and while Deathwing showed potential, it never got acted upon. We spent a lot of this issue and arc exploring the characters’ mindscapes, but it doesn’t feel like we found much. The ending scenes of Dick talking with Shawn and Damian are touching, but what we had to read through to get there wasn’t appealing enough to make the long wait feel worth it.