The Blockbuster arc comes to an end in Nightwing #25. Is it good?
The issue starts off with Dick contemplating how to stop a bomb that’s about to kill him and fifty other people. Time is running out, but fortunately Clock King (with his time-stopping technology) is there as well. Nightwing’s battle against the clock in this opening scene could have made for a suspenseful sequence, but the execution feels off. There are points where second counters are used and the events depicted don’t feel like they could have all taken place in the time allotted. Then there are seemingly major events that are just bypassed altogether. Rather than a battle against time, we get an unclear theory on how the day can be saved, and then no depiction of the actual saving.
Fortunately, the lack of effective tension in the issue’s first half does not extend through the rest of the narrative. Tiger Shark continues to be over-the-top and campy, and seeing his animal collection expand to include alien species is fun. Blockbuster also gets some solid page-time, and his final confrontation with Nightwing takes place in the form of a discussion at a bar. The shift away from physical combat to verbal tackling of the issue’s themes makes for a unique and satisfying climax.
This issue also has some major plot twists regarding the supporting cast. A major change in Shawn and Dick’s relationship takes place, and it’s done pretty well. The moment feels like it could have been more impactful if their romance up until now hadn’t felt so rushed, though. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how writer Tim Seeley handles Shawn’s character in upcoming issues. It’s also nice to see Gizmo get more page-time; I’m glad that Seeley is continuing to incorporate the Run-Offs into Dick’s life.
Artistically, penciller Minkyu Jung does a good job with what may be his best work on the title so far. The characters’ facial expressions are a highlight, as is the overall attention to background detail. The physical settings are frequently rendered with a lot of line-work, helping to ground events with a sense of realism. With that said, there are still some panels here and there where the amount of detail in characters’ bodies drops a bit jarringly. Colorist Chris Sotomayor delivers solid work as always, as does letterer Carlos M. Mangual. The issue’s overall visuals are good, but feel a bit lacking in stylistic “oomph.” Blüdhaven has yet to achieve its own unique aesthetic in this series.
Ultimately, Nightwing #25 is a solid issue. There are a lot of nice details in the art as well as some pleasantly surprising plot developments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite feel like the creative team is firing on all cylinders. The writing and artwork in the issue’s first half are a bit incongruent at times, and there’s not a lot to find here that feels particularly fresh or unique. This issue is enjoyable, but not a must-read unless you’re a diehard fan of the titular character.