Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Chris Mooneyham
Colors: Nick Filardi
Ink: Klaus Janson
Nightwing #47 brings us to the finale of Bleeding Edge. Grayson has stumbled on group of sentient, self healing, hacker droids called the Terminals. While he works his way through them, Babs holds down the fort at the press conference outside, where the Russian Sisterhood has come to confront the mind behind it all, Willem.
To me, Bleeding Edge was a good arc for what it was; a new team taking on a beloved character, telling an interesting story, showing that they know the character as well their predecessors, and taking the character down new “rabbit holes”. For me they did just that. Was it incredible? Well… no. All the same, I came back for more each month, and that (as I look at the gauntlet of unread comics JUST from the big two) is a big win.
The art, without question, is what takes center stage in #47. Chris Mooneyham (art), Nick Filardi (colors), and Klaus Janson (inks) come together to make a visually exciting issue. When the story features VR, you have to believe that it becomes a bit of a playground for the artist. Granted, I’m not sure how hands on Percy is when it comes to the artwork, but I’d like to believe he gives them an idea of what he wants in his breakdowns, and then trust them to do what they do best. I could be wrong, but it felt like the artistic team just had a blast with this issue, and that’s what keeps the pages turning.
There are a lot of amazing moments if you just go panel to panel and see the story through the artwork. There were also few questions I have when it comes to the art. We’ll end on the good and start with my “Wait… what?” moments. To be fair, they both have to do with the visor Babs makes for Grayson that allows him switch between the VR being fed to him, and real life. First off, am I the only one who thinks that the visor makes Grayson look like Max Goof doing Powerline in A Goofy Movie? Because, he totally does. I had Eye to Eye and Stand Out playing on a continuous loop every time Grayson showed up (and if you were alive in the 90’s, now you have those songs stuck in your head too. You’re welcome). The other “Wait…what?’ moment I had with the visor comes after Babs sets off an EMP. Everything goes down as it should, but Grayson’s visor. Granted, it keeps saying “VR Mode: Off”, but I feel like an EMP would make that thing useless, so why still wear it at that point? These are tiny things, but things all the same.
As I said, you can go panel by panel and get an exciting story simply from the artwork. The way that this team depicts the Terminals adds a layer to them that makes them more terrifying. This is great because otherwise the kind of look like Putties from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers being born out of one of the pods in The Matrix (which, you know… is still pretty terrifying). The switch back and forth between VR and real life helps to draw you further into this world they have created. We have VR all around us (hell, even the best attractions at Universal Studios have just become VR, but that’s a rant for another day and another platform). It’s not too hard to see this VR city be a thing in the next few years, and the way that this team depicts the upgrade Blüdhaven makes me feel like this is actually happening in some no name city in the middle of the map (not your city, reader, your city is awesome). The best part of the artwork for me though, comes during the Russian Sisterhood panels. Willem unleashes VR terrors on them and, holy crap is it great to watch. This is where it felt like the artist had the most fun. Then we get to see how incredibly badass the head of the Sisterhood actually is. I’ve shown my wife those panels probably 4 times, forgetting that she’s seen them, but they are just so awesome, I had to share!
There is good and bad when it comes to the actual writing of this issue. The thing that gets to me the most in comics is when the writer throws a lot of exposition at you. In the first issue of an arc, it’s fine, you need the exposition. Even in the second issue of an arc, I can let it go. In the finale though? We’ve been on this ride with you the whole time. We know how we got here. We don’t really need a recap of the previous issues in this arc. Unfortunately, that’s what was going on in this issue. I get that this is a monthly title and a recap can feel needed, but as the reader, I feel spoon fed everything, and it prevents me from getting into the book. It also feels like the reading comprehension of the reader isn’t fully trusted. I don’t think this is Percy’s goal by any stretch of the imagination, but it does come across that way from my perspective.
The dialogue, at times, also feels a little rigid. Grayson is a fun character. Though he does lean more towards the old man/dad jokes than say a Wally West, he’s still a very fun character who is extremely charismatic. I didn’t really get that during this issue. Even the relationship between Grayson and Babs felt a little off. They grew up together, they’ve fought together, and they’ve even woken up in bed together! These two know each other very well, and yet as this arc went along, it felt like they were losing that connection with each issue.
Like I said, this arc does what a first arc is supposed to do. It shows that this is the right team. Benjamin Percy shows that he knows Grayson well. We get to see that knowledge flexed more towards the end of this issue when Grayson is trying to reason with Willem. Grayson can mess up a lot of people with relative ease, but the thing that makes him a hero who we all love is that he seeks to find the why behind people’s action. It’s not just about putting the bad guys away for Grayson. No matter what, Grayson seeks to understand. Percy nails that in this issue, and it gives me all the faith that we are going to get some amazing arcs from this team.
I am interested to see what becomes of Willem. As I said, it seemed like it was too easy for him to be at the head of it all. I found myself saying, “Right?! See, Babs gets it!” as she explains her skepticism. I want to see Willem more because he could be a very interesting character, but I don’t think he was fully fleshed out in this arc. One moment he is acting as powerful as Lex Luthor, and the next he’s a bit of a coward. I get it, if you have that kind of power at your fingertips you’re bound to make anyone feel like they can act like Luthor, but the cowardice is what was intriguing. I want to know his why. He explains a little bit, but I feel like there is much more to his story, and I feel like Percy has some plans for him.
All in all, Bleeding Edge was a solid arc. With some of the iconic characters (like Grayson), you have to ease yourself in a bit. He’s not the same kid (Burt Ward) that was the butt of every Batman joke ever made. He’s a complex character, and if you do too much too fast, the internet will rage (see: Titans trailer). The thing that excites me the most about this series is the fact that they kept calling the Blüd a beta test. They are prepping for more. The next step seems to take us back to Bat home, and I can’t wait to see how that will play out!
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