Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colors: Nick Filardi
Nightwing heads to the island of Díobháil for the universe’s most dangerous motorcycle race. With the grand prize of the race getting to ask a single question at the Pathway Alter, Grayson takes his opportunity to save Vicki Vale and Willem Cloke from Wyrm’s digital prison. This is still a dangerous race though, and Nightwing needs to beat a crowd of racers willing to do anything to get answers of their own, including Silencer!
This is the vibe I wanted last week in the Annual! Nightwing #48 is the exciting story I’ve been waiting for with this overall Wyrm story. It does start the new arc, Harm’s Way, but it is very much driven by Wyrm and the events of The Bleeding Edge. We get a more playful (and less corny) Grayson in 48, and it is refreshing. After reading and seeing the Grayson we get in Batman #54 (go check out Jason Saba’s review of it now!), I was expecting a lot out of Nightwing #48; and I was not let down.
I do not want to compare Batman #54 and Nightwing #48 in terms of the story that each issue told, but I did enjoy how Percy’s Nightwing differed from King’s, and how both of those iterations make up a full picture of what makes Nightwing such a loved (rightfully so) character. In Batman, we get the playful Grayson who is much more of the son trying anything to distract and cheer up Dad. Cracking jokes, fighting some of the most ridiculous rogues Bats has, and making bets. It’s a side of Dick Grayson that we love to see, because he offsets Bat’s aggressive seriousness so well. In Nightwing, we still get the jokes of Grayson, but we also see why he is such a formidable hero with not much more than his Kali sticks. These two sides of the same character illustrate why Dick Grayson is easily one of my top 3 favorite DC characters.
Being that this is a deadly motorcycle race, you do expect to be turning each page in excitement. It definitely meets that expectation, but the beginning of the race doesn’t even start until the last few pages of this issue. The excitement of this issue, for me, is the way that Percy, Nahuelpan, and Filardi build this world. Percy dives into the mythos of Díobháil and how the race began. The story of the island draws you in. When Nightwing has to drink from a cup to be entered in the race, you aren’t shocked by the reasoning or the cup, because Percy sets up this island that shouldn’t exist, but also where anything can (and probably will) happen.
Percy’s description of the island is vivid enough to paint a picture on its own, but pairing Nahuelpan’s art with the bold color scheme of Filardi makes it so much better. Part of the gripe I had last week about the Annual, was I got bored of the Vicki Vale moments was in part due to the lack of color. That is definitely not an issue in 48. Each panel pops and allows you to live in this world. For this being “Deadliest motorcycle race in the cosmos”, you are expecting a lot when it comes to how the art work depicts it, and I loved what Amancay Nahuelpan came up with. Bar 37 seems like it may be a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley! The vehicles Nahuelpan brings to the race are what I assume the next Twisted Metal lineup will look like. There is even a touch of The Wacky Racers in there when we see a familiar Gotham villain. As I said, the race starts in the last few pages of this issue, and from what we are shown, this race is truly insane, and will be a playground for this creative team.
While at this point I am kind of over the Wyrm storyline, I will say that this issue brought my interest back up in a big way. Wyrm is only in the issue for a single panel to illustrate why Grayson is here, but there are so many possible ways that this race and the prize can twist this story and escalate it, and that makes me giddy.
This is a great first issue of the new arc. It sets up a simple story, introduces some creepy characters I’m sure will be an issue later, clear stakes, and signs that show that Percy is starting to settle into the character of Dick Grayson. On top of that, we also get Silencer! I will be honest, I haven’t been a huge fan of any of the new heroes that came from Metal, but I do really like Silencer and her story, so to see her tie into Nightwing makes me very happy. I can’t wait to see this race in all of its insane glory in #49.
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