Monday, 27 April 2015

Nightwing Vol. 1: Bludhaven Review


Nightwing Vol. 1: Bludhaven

And here is the most iconic picture in
Dick Grayson's history.
Writers: Dennis O’Neil and Chuck Dixon

Artists: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Greg Land (ewwww…) and Mike Sellers

Collects: Nightwing (original mini-series) #1-4 and Nightwing (1997) #1-8

Background Information:

So, the New 52 Nightwing is cancelled, but that’s okay, right?

Riiiiiggghhht?

What, no? You want a Nightwing series?

Well, to celebrate Dick Grayson’s 75th year, I’m giving you two Nightwing reviews!

Review:

“I’m really getting sick of Nightwing.”

Is something that I’ll never say.

Ever.

And the first time Dick Grayson looked awesome.
There’s something just awesome about a sidekick rising to the occasion and forging his own path. More to the point, Dick Grayson really feels like the emotional core of the DCU in any of its versions; a character that the entire DCU knows and cares about. His mentors have included Batman and Superman, he’s been leader of the Teen Titans, and the unofficial president of the former Robin’s club. In my view, it doesn’t get any better than Nightwing, and doesn’t get more exciting than the orginal 90s series collected in Bludhaven.

So there’s two things happening in Bludhaven, in the original mini-series, Dick finds out a disturbing secret that may give new clues to the death of Dick’s parents which takes Nightwing to Kravia with a new (now iconic) black and blue suit. This story isn’t the best, but I can admire it for one reason; it was definitive proof that Nightwing could hold his own in a solo series.

And by the time the ’97 series comes around, that proof results in something grand. Dead bodies have been washing up in Gotham Harbour. The bodies belong to gangsters from Bludhaven- Gotham’s ugly step-sister, so Batman sends Down downriver to see why gangsters are being knocked off and by whom.

I started reading about Nightwing with Kyle Higgins’ New 52 series. Reading this one, I was amazed at how consistent the character was between both books. This wasn’t an old, outdated version of Nightwing, but the exact character I read about in Higgins’ book. He cracked jokes, was genuinely nice to people and exhibited joy at being able to do what he does.

But what this series has over the New 52 is that, excluding the mini-series and first issue of the ongoing, there is no sign of Batman. There wasn’t much sign in the New 52, but Nightwing was continually in the bat’s shadow. Here, Dick feels like he’s truly his own man. He takes responsibility for Bludhaven and it’s a joy to read.

On top of that is the inklings of a supporting cast. There’s no Jim Gordon, no Harvey Bullock, no bat-support in a 10-mile radius of this book. That lends a lot to making this book both accessible and appealing. This isn’t “not-batman”, this is Dick Grayson showing every reason to like him.

The villains in this book are mixed bag. You have great ones like crooked cops and the man who is truly running Bludhaven, the ordinary ones like the false facers…
This is Lady Vic. Yes, she's from the 90s, why do you
ask?

And then the plain horrible ones like Lady Vic.

She’s really the only downside to the writing in this trade. A stupid, too-busy costume design and a go-nowhere story don’t endear her to anyone, but the worst part is the name. See, Lady Vic reveals that the “Vic” part of her name doesn’t stand for “Victoria”, which would actually make sense, the name stands for “victim”. Yep, “Lady Victim”… I’m not as terrified by that name as writer Chuck Dixon thinks I should be.

But that’s a small downside to a trade that feels both accessible and exciting. Bludhaven gets a four out of five “Lady Victims”… urgh, I feel dirty just typing that.

****

+ More than “Not-Batman”

+ Great for those who got to know Nightwing in the New 52

+ Hugely accessible

- The mini-series isn’t so great

-  “Lady Victim”… really?

Alternate Option: Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes

Another new-reader friendly Nightwing series.