Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Travis Moore, Chris Mooneyham, & Klaus Janson
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain, Nick Filardi, & John Kalisz
After being shot in the head by KGBeast (Batman #55), Dick Grayson doesn’t remember who he is, what he’s done, or the people he loves. Nightwing #50 puts Grayson on a path to find himself, and not just be the man people keep telling him he was. At the same time, and old foe seems to be looking for revenge.
First off, I want to start off this review with a heartfelt thank you to Benjamin Percy, Chris Mooneyham, Nick Filardi, and everyone who worked on 44-50. Nightwing is, and always will be, in my top 2 for DC characters. I’ve gone back and forth on some of the issues, but on the whole, these issues have been really fun reads that I look forward to when it shows up on my pull list for that week. Even if I wasn’t reviewing them, I would still really look forward to it. It’s been said that Percy did not get to tell the story he wanted, and after reading his final issue this week, I believe his meaning becomes a little bit clearer, but we’ll get there in a minute. For now, I just want to say thank you to this team for the stories they gave us. I’m very sad to see their Nightwing run come to a close, but I can’t wait to see what covers their names will pop up on next.
Ok, sorry about the fanboy moment there. Nightwing #50 time!
I’ll be honest; I had to read this a couple of times. I normally read issues I really like multiple times anyways (because I like them, and hate going outside. Don’t judge me), but this issue I had to read a couple of times just to know how I actually felt about the issue. I’d been anxiously waiting for this issue since finishing Batman #55 two weeks ago. To be honest, I have no idea what I was really expecting from this issue, or even what I wanted to see happen. I just knew I was excited to see what was going to happen with Nightwing. After reading it the first time, I was a bit underwhelmed. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, just that I read it. After reading it again and letting myself marinate on it a little, I realized that this issue is actually really great in so many ways, and tells a really relatable story, even if the circumstances are not super relatable (thankfully).
Part of the issue I initially had with this issue is that, aside from the “Feed the Wyrm” tag on the bar wall, it discards everything that has lead up to this. It doesn’t feel like an issue of Nightwing, it feels like a continuation of Batman. Yes, it makes sense that everything with Wyrm and the Isle of Harm would be set aside after Grayson got shot and lost his memories. It makes perfect sense. It also feels awkward. It feels like Grayson getting shot was the start of an event and DC was like, “Stop everything you’re doing and planning, we need to focus on this Batman development.” This could be what Percy meant when he said that he didn’t get to fully tell the story he wanted. It makes me wonder, will Wyrm be a thing later? If not, where was Percy going to take us with that story? It stirs up a lot of questions.
Like I said, I did really enjoy this book after reading over it a few times. Yes, it still feels misplaced in the Nightwing run, but the story it tells is so very real to all of us. What would you do if you woke up one morning and you couldn’t remember who you were? Would it feel like you were that insecure kid in school trying to find out what kind of adult you wanted to be? Would you work to become the person that everyone says you were, or would that push you further away from that version of yourself? Getting into Grayson’s psyche is really interesting and relatable. The story of Grayson finding who he is, and will be, is mirrored with a flashback of Dick as Robin trying to figure out who he is and who he will become. We all go through phases of self evaluation and change throughout our lives. Not many need to be shot in the head by a very murderous Russian to do it, but we do it. Nightwing #50 is all about the man Richard Grayson.
This issue isn’t one to feverishly turn each page to get to more action. It’s an issue that should be taken in slowly. I went through it pretty quickly the first time, and Grayson came off as an unlikeable Jason Todd. This is a Grayson that I can see saying, “F$%* Batman” and willingly shooting baddies in the alley. When I took it a little slower, I still saw aspects of Jason in Grayson, but I also saw a character struggling. We see him bounce around from one distraction to the next. There is pain in Grayson’s eyes when we see him alone, but when we see him fighting or shooting pool in some seedy bar, there is a smirk on his face. There is still pain there though. There has to be. When he closes his eyes he doesn’t realize the time that has passed, where he is, or what he’s doing. To have so little control over your life and your actions has got to be frustrating and really scary.
The flashback story line explores the psyche of another character, Scarecrow. It shows a man trying to prove he is more than what people think of him. A man trying to bring chaos to Gotham, but feels like people see him more as a minor annoyance and someone who should be pitied. Some of my favorite artwork is in this flashback story. Part of every great Scarecrow story is the hallucinations. Seeing Crane’s hallucinations is straight up nightmare fuel. His vision of the boy wonder is stunning and terrifying. The only thing I wish, is that we got to see the guard’s hallucination. Seemed like a missed opportunity for the artist to have some fun and give us an insight into this person we will probably never see again.
The other moments that really stuck out to me, art wise, was the 6 panel page of Babs after she tried to speak with Grayson, and when Dick is standing in front of all of his old Nightwing costumes. The Babs panels stick out a lot because she is arguably one of the closest people to Grayson. We all want them to be together. We just do. They have an undeniable connection, and for good reason. Seeing the pain in Babs face after becoming a complete stranger to Grayson broke my heart. Then you zoom out and see that she is not the only one hurting. The panels of Grayson standing in front of his costumes, and the page after, are actually a perfect end to this issue. It does smack you pretty hard in the face with the symbolism, but they are really powerful visuals, and part of the reason I really loved this issue.
There are a few things I’m unclear about. Why just Babs? Reading Batman #56, I know where Batman is, but the timeline in Nightwing is unclear, and we do see Bats in the issue. Did he try to talk to Dick? What about Alfred? If anyone can pull someone back from the abyss, it’s everyone’s sassy butler, Alfred Pennyworth. But where were they? They are Dick’s family and we didn’t see them reach out. It felt weird. Also, like I said, the timeline of this issue is really unclear.
I am sad to see this team end their run on Nightwing, but I think they went out with their best issue yet. It is a beautiful character driven story fueled by a very relatable internal struggle. We are also left with a lot of questions. Is this the end of Nightwing? Will Grayson emerge as something else? Will Scarecrow be the one that inadvertently pulls Grayson back to who he was? Not sure but there are a lot of different possibilities on how this can play out and I can’t be more excited to see where this story takes us.
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