This week’s Nightwing #43 is the second of two fill-in issues between the last creative team’s run on the title and a new team taking over with #44. Fill-in issues get a bad rap at times, but as last issue proved, they can deliver standout one-and-done stories. One promising aspect of this issue is the presence of past contributors to the title: Minkyu Jung is back on art, and Carlos M. Mangual continues his run as letterer. Michael Moreci serves as writer this time around, and Felipe Sobreiro is the colorist. Does this team deliver something memorable with the short page-time allotted? Is Nightwing #43 good?
Plot-wise, I like what this issue is going for. Dick teams up with Robin (Damian Wayne) and Arsenal (Roy Harper) to fight the League of Assassins, and lots of brotherly quips and rebuttals ensue. With the exception of issue #42, Nightwing hasn’t done much with its supporting cast in a while, so it’s cool to see Dick’s friendships get some spotlight. Moreci has a solid grasp on all three characters’ personalities, and their banter is enjoyable to read. The dialogue doesn’t go that extra mile to make this an especially memorable boys-night-out type of issue, but it’s good for what it is.
Art-wise, Jung delivers what’s likely their best work on the title thus far. The line-work is clean throughout, the page compositions are enjoyably varied, and the flow of movement is well-conveyed. I particularly appreciate the characters’ facial expressions, which are often comedic and match the lighthearted tone of three friends somewhat bumbling their way through a mission. There are a handful of occasions where characters are rendered awkwardly in a way that doesn’t work well, but none of these moments are especially glaring. As far as the rest of the visuals go, Sobreiro delivers solid colors that are at their best when highlighting contrasts, and Mangual’s lettering is impeccable as usual.
My main con with this issue is simply that I like it rather than love it. The creative team delivers solid work, but they don’t knock the story out of the park in a way that feels unique compared to other heroes-as-quippy-friends issues. There are a few “Netflix and chill” jokes that fall a little flat, and the story wraps up with a neat little bow that doesn’t feel fully earned. I didn’t learn anything new about any of the characters or their bonds by the end of the issue; one probably could have subbed these specific characters out with a handful of others and easily achieved the same story beats. It’s not that Dick, Damian, and Roy feel bland exactly, but they do feel a bit simplified.
Ultimately, Nightwing #43 is a solid issue, but it’s not a great one. Though the art team delivers good work and the premise is fun, the actual execution lacks unique flair. It’s always fun to see Dick fight crime with his friends, but this isn’t a team-up I’ll look back on very frequently. If you read this series regularly then pick this issue up, but it’s passable otherwise.