After two creative teams’ runs and two fill-in issues following the latter run, Nightwing has yet again changed hands with this week’s issue #44. Thus far, Rebirth-era Nightwing has brought Dick Grayson back to Blüdhaven, where he’s developed an antagonistic but working rapport with a police detective and taken on a number of the city’s biggest villains. This new run’s first arc, “The Bleeding Edge,” continues the series’ focus on Blüdhaven, which is now home to new and potentially threatening holographic technology. How well does the new creative team introduce these developments? Is Nightwing #44 a promising start to this new era for the title?
My favorite aspect of this issue is easily its artwork. The first page opens with Dick walking down the streets of Blüdhaven, which is rendered very well. Artist Chris Mooneyham does a good job capturing the hustle-and-bustle of an urban setting, with bountiful details (buildings, signs, lights, trash cans, etc.) that make the environment actually feel like people live in it. Dick himself is also drawn with a nice amount of detail; the hatching-style shading is particularly pleasing to look at. Colorist Nick Filardi adds to the fun with cool blues and bold pinks and greens that capture both the oppressive and exciting moods of city life. Letterer Carlos M. Mangual is still on the title and delivers good work as always. Collectively, these three deliver a visually well-balanced issue that has more aesthetic pros than cons.
Unfortunately, I’m less pleased with the issue’s writing. Benjamin Percy delivers solid work as far as pacing, ideas, and other fundamentals go, but the issue’s handling of Blüdhaven’s new holographic technology leaves something to be desired. There are just too many details that make me scratch my head. Why does Dick Grayson, a man in his mid-twenties who was raised by the technologically genius and resourceful Bruce Wayne, have such an almost disdainful view of technological advances and social media? I may be overstating his aversion a tad, but there’s definitely a negative attitude present that doesn’t make much sense for the character to have. Also, it doesn’t add up that the technology is accessible and widespread enough for a local restaurant owner to afford it without Dick having at least heard of it previously. More over, why is this groundbreaking new technology seemingly only present in Blüdhaven?
With that said, there are some plot points in this issue that I like. Detective Svoboda is still around, so there’s a sense that the prior runs’ events actually mattered somewhat. This sense is further strengthened by the fact that Dick is evidently still working as a personal trainer. We also get to see Dick talk with Barbara Gordon. All of these moments point to the possibility of Dick having a significant supporting cast in this run, which I am thankful for. It’s also worth noting that the new holographic advances have the potential to be interesting. My qualms with this technology pertain more to Dick’s opinion of it and some logical inconsistencies regarding its accessibility than they do to the technology itself.
Overall, this isn’t a downright bad issue. The artwork immediately grabs one’s attention, and it remains strong save for some confusion in action scenes and occasional weak page layouts. The writing also shows promise, but it is majorly dragged down by two fatal flaws: the implementation of the technological plot element makes little sense, and Dick Grayson just doesn’t sound like Dick Grayson. I’m hoping that future issues improve in these areas, because they prevent this debut issue from being an exciting one.