Nightwing #26 kicks off a new arc and reintroduces Huntress into the fold. Is it good?
Throughout his run on this series, writer Tim Seeley has drawn upon numerous elements and side characters from Dick Grayson’s past. Since the narrative shifted toward Blüdhaven, however, we haven’t seen much reference to the Grayson series. Fortunately, Huntress is now back, along with spy-based plots and intrigue. The choice to bring Spyral back into Dick’s life is a good move on Seeley’s part. Seeing Dick grapple with recent events as well as ghosts from the past help to make the character feel more real, and like his history matters.
Huntress and Spyral aren’t the only returns in this issue. Javier Fernandez is back on the art, and (with no disrespect intended toward the series’ other pencillers) it’s a welcome return. His work breathes life into Blüdhaven, with consistently fantastic perspective and compositional choices. Fernandez excels at drawing architecture, backgrounds, and, as always, facial expressions. He is also adept at rendering Dick’s acrobatic styles in movement and combat. This visual commitment to Dick’s past with the traveling circus, combined with the plot’s referrals back to Grayson, serves as an effective nod to the character’s past without straying too far from present events.
Unfortunately, what this issue does with the rest of the series’ cast isn’t as promising. Giz is revealed to have been killed (rather than simply injured) at the end of the last issue, but he hasn’t been utilized well enough before now to make this development very compelling. Worse off, though, is Shawn Tsang, whose face-heel turn is predictable yet inadequately set up. Her shifts in morality and decision-making don’t feel justified, and the speed with which she changes extremes comes across as out-of-character when looked at next to her actions ten-or-so issues ago. Pigeon remains a flat character, and while it’s nice to see Dick harken back to his spy days, the execution of the issue’s hired gun/covert elements could be more suspenseful.
Overall, this issue is good, but it has too many significant cons to be great. Fernandez’s return to the art is a major positive, as is the inclusion of Huntress and the potential for cool Spyral-related escapades throughout the rest of the arc. Unfortunately, the way the supporting cast is handled here drags the overall enjoyableness down a fair amount. Seeing characters and themes from Dick’s past resurface is always nice, but it feels like his current supporting cast is crumbling away prematurely to make room. Hopefully future issues will integrate the different aspects of Dick’s life more smoothly.