Story: Scott Lobdell
Additional Story: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Travis Moore & Garry Brown
Colors: Hi-Fi and Nick Filardi
Ric Grayson is still in search of the person he wants to become, not just the hero the Blüd needs him to be. Meanwhile, Nightwing #51 may give birth to Blüdhaven’s new hero.
I’ll get this out of the way now, I really liked this issue. Nightwing #51 helps clear up some questions I had after reading #50, like, what the time frame is. It also dives a bit deeper into Ric’s psyche, and shows us that the memories of Dick Grayson still live inside Ric; they are just harder to reach. KGBeast’s bullet didn’t quite kill Dick, just knocked him out, and the Batboys never stay down long.
My favorite part of the entire issue is our favorite butler, Alfred Pennyworth. In my review of #50, one of the biggest questions was, why was Babs the only one shown reaching out? We all know that Alfred Pennyworth would be next to Master Dick’s hospital bed the entire time, and probably wouldn’t leave him alone after he went home. He is the one that can bring all of the Bat-family back down to Earth. He is their heart and soul.
The love for Alfred is still there for Ric, even if he doesn’t quite know it. When we saw Babs approach Ric in 50, he tried to get away from her and make her realize that he is not her Dick Grayson. In 51, Ric gives Alfred the time of day. It could be that Alfred is simply there watching out for Grayson and not telling him who he was, but it feels like more. A connection that even a bullet to the head couldn’t erase. Ric does care for this strange old man (and his beautiful car), he just can’t understand why.
The artwork in these panels is incredible story telling. It shows us the fun boyish Grayson that Alfred helped raise (by helped, I mean did most of the work), but it also shows the pain in Alfred. Alfred has seen his family beaten, broken, and dead (multiple times of each), but this isn’t as easy as healing in bed, or taking a dip in the Lazarus pit. Grayson is alive and walking around, but Alfred is just another stranger to him. To lose someone you’re that close to is hard; to have them live and forget you completely seems harder. That pain come through loud and clear.
Speaking of the artwork, it is great from end to end. Grayson’s dream sequence is some of the most memorable panel of this issue. It shows us that he does still remember who Nightwing is deep inside his subconscious. The page of him kicking Two-Face is such a great piece. It’s the Nightwing we all want to see. Facing off against an iconic rogue, classic Grayson acrobatics, escrima sticks high, and a head full of luscious hair. I want this on a canvas in my nerd cave. We also get glimpses of what other memories of Dick Grayson are hiding deep in his brain. Babs and Damian appear in his dream/nightmare, but their faces bring us back to Grayson’s time with Spyral. I absolutely loved this entire sequence.
The Scarecrow storyline took a bit of a slow burn this issue, but I like that a lot. Scarecrow will definitely be a big part of this arc, but this team is letting the story breath and letting themselves explore what’s in front of them a bit more. They are letting Grayson explore who he is, while still showing us that Scarecrow is hard at work. At what, is still a mystery.
With every chapter of an arc, must come something to raise the stakes, and 51 does that well. It leaves us with a lot of questions, mainly, how will Blüdhaven react to this new hero that has taken Nightwing’s place? How will Grayson feel about the Blüd’s new protector using a gun? Will Grayson inevitably fight alongside him, or against him?
Nightwing #51 is easily my personal pick of the week (even if I wasn’t reviewing it). It continues with a strong character driven story (my favorite kind of stories), and keeps us guessing where this story is going to end up. The introduction of the Blüd’s new protector could make things easier for Ric to let go of his former self, or it could be another person he’ll need to stop. He could also be the person Scarecrow takes out before Dick comes back. The artwork is some of the best art I’ve seen all series, which is saying a lot. There is still a lot more story to go, and I get more excited with every new panel we get!