“The Bleeding Edge” comes to a close.
Since taking the title over three issues ago, the current Nightwing creative team has pitted Dick Grayson against technology-based supervillains, Russian mobsters, and his lingering romantic attraction to Batgirl. Their debut story arc, “The Bleeding Edge,” draws to a close this week, but does it wrap everything up in a satisfying manner? Is Nightwing #47 good?
Despite being labeled as the conclusion to a storyline, this issue doesn’t actually resolve much of anything. Long-form storytelling can be very effective, so it’s not a bad thing that every little plot thread doesn’t get settled. With that said, it’s still disappointing that virtually nothing actually concludes here. There’s barely any sense of progression whatsoever. Character-wise, neither Dick, Barbara, nor Willem Cloke get any meaningful development. Plot-wise, the heroes’ battle against the Mirage tech company just sort of gets put on pause. The issue ends with Mirage leaving Blüdhaven, but it’s revealed that they’re heading to Gotham next.
Beyond its frustrating lack of character or plot progression, this issue also disappoints with its dialogue and narration. Writer Benjamin Percy’s take on Nightwing as a grumpy technophobe still feels questionable, although he at least earns points for consistency. Technology references are dropped left and right but the nature of Mirage’s holograms, as well as their potential social implications, are hardly touched upon. One particularly odd bit of narration refers to the Terminals (minions of Mirage) as being like “a petri dish of organic matter and synthetics.” What does this actually mean? Who knows; this concept of man and machine mixing together isn’t delved into any more deeply.
Also baffling is how Dick once again insists that he knows Cloke has a good heart and can do better. The two characters have had brief training montages together, but none of these scenes conveyed convincing friendship, much less mutual understanding, between them. Cloke has a heel-face turn toward the issue’s end, but it doesn’t feel meaningful since he was never a convincing villain to begin with.
Art-wise, this isn’t Chris Mooneyham’s best work. A lot of the action is distractingly static. The opening splash page, for instance, shows Dick fighting off a crowd of Terminals. Despite the fact that Dick is outnumbered by opponents with greater raw strength than his, it doesn’t actually feel like he’s in danger. The Terminals read as props meant to symbolize antagonism, but there’s just no sense of urgency or conflict in the line-work and composition. Some occasional panels impress with fluid movement, but by and large the issue’s art feels like a series of shots that aren’t actually linked together fluidly.
With all that said, this issue does have some better attributes. Nick Filardi delivers decent work with his coloration; Blüdhaven’s signature bright neons are present and help prevent events from feeling too drab. Wyrm also explains why Mirage wanted Nightwing’s personal data, and he makes a convincing argument. Few other characters in the DC universe have as many close ties to major superheroes as he does, after all. Besides these two points, though, the issue’s main strengths are just matters of bare minimal competence. As boring as this issue is, its events are at least fairly easy to follow. The artwork, though bland, is also not the worst in current mainstream comics.
Overall, Nightwing #47 is a disappointing issue. The characters’ dialogue and motivations are frequently questionable, and the ending isn’t very satisfying. The more potentially interesting aspects of the plot don’t get fleshed out, and the lime-work is oddly static throughout. This isn’t a horrible issue, but it’s still worth passing on.