Nightwing #78 (May 2021)

Leaping Into The Light: Part 1

Writer: Tom Taylor, Art: Bruno Redondo, Colours: Adriano Lucas

Nightwing is back—and his drive to keep Blüdhaven safe has never been stronger! But his adopted city has elected a new mayor with the last name Zucco. When Nightwing enlists Batgirl’s help in investigating the politician bearing the same name as the man who murdered his parents, she unearths details that will shock and fundamentally change the hero. The New York Times bestselling team of writer Tom Taylor (DCeasedInjustice) and artist Bruno Redondo (InjusticeSuicide Squad) are about to take Nightwing to the next stage of his evolution as a hero!

DCCOMICS.COM official solicitation

Finally, after more than a decade of being  corporate punching bag, Nightwing gets a reset as part of DC’s Infinite Frontier initiative.  Tom Taylor comes on as writer, at last give one of DC’s big books after stellar work on ‘Injustice’ and ‘DCeased’, and, while not rebooting the character, gives us the purest Dick that we have had in years.

Gone is Ric the amnesiac cabby that refuses to acknowledge his past and his friends, gone is any girlfriend that wasn’t Barbara or Starfire.  Back is the carefree, confident hero with a heart who is always standing up for the little guy and flirting with redheads.  And he is in the classic black and blue suit.

The book starts with a flashback to Dick and Barbara’s first meeting, making it clear that she is going to be central to his story.   She is standing up to a group of bullies in the park and Dick steps in to lend a hand.  Straight away Taylor acknowledges that Dick might not be the best name for a young boy growing up (which is something I can’t remember any writer doing before) and this has helped build his character.  He also references The Flying Graysons and Tony Zucco at the same time letting you know you are in for some classic Dick.

The pair easily handle the bullies and James Gordon steps in to make sure things don’t go any further.  Gordon takes Dick back to Stately Wayne Manor and we get to see the Dick and Alfred relationship, something that is now impossible in present day continuity.  The two genuinely see each other as family, setting up events that are to come.

Jump to present day and we see Dick’s heart. He’s not fighting any classic supervillains, he’s chasing a group of street thugs who are kicking a three-legged puppy. After a quick, athletic beat down Dick claims the puppy as his own and is promptly bitten on the hand. This doesn’t change his mind as he sees something of himself in the pup. Someone who got a raw deal in life and lost their trust in people.

The villain plot of the book brings back a classic Nightwing antagonist. Twenty years ago Blockbuster was THE Nightwing villain and now he is back. This intelligent hulk wants to control the city and he is going to use strong arm tactics to do it. In a show of power he brutally murders the mayor of Bludhaven in front of the police commission so he can put the person he wants in charge. That person in Melinda Zucco, daughter of the murderer of Nightwing’s parents, thus making the crime story personal.

Before the Zucco implications have time to kick in Dick is already having troubles in his personal life. He owns the whole apartment block that he lives in but now that the Wayne fortune has disappeared he is running out of money. But as luck would have it, Barbara is waiting in his apartment. She is the executor of Alfred’s will and has some good news for Dick. One of the worst things about when Dick became a dick called Rick was it happened at the same time as Alfred was killed and impact of Alfred’s death was lost on the character. That is corrected here as Dick become the main beneficiary of Alfred’s will and is now a billionaire but more importantly there is a letter from Alfred where he calls Dick his son. Taylor excels in getting maximum emotion out of just a few panels.

So all is right again in the world of ‘Nightwing’. The clock has been rolled back and this feeling just like the Chuck Dixon run of the late 90s to early 2000s. Dick has always been the light in the darkness of the Batman family and that had been missing for years. Taylor has brought the light back and hopefully it is here to stay.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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