Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Davide Gianfelice
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Andworld Design
Nightwing #56 brings the Nightwings their first mission against a bonafide super villain. Scarecrow proves to be a bit too much for the new team, so Ric puts his old reflexes to work, and lends the team a helping hand.
Back to the rollercoaster that is Nightwing. This isn’t a bad issue, but it did bore me at times. This will make me feel like a dad (I’m not), but I’m disappointed with this issue. I was very excited for this issue because, we were finally going to see Scarecrow do some real damage. The whole arc, we have seen bits and pieces of Dr. Crane delving into a deeper understanding of people’s fear. Doing one on one sessions and experimenting with group therapy. It was building to be a really awesome Scarecrow arc and really leaned on the fear; both in the text and for the reader. Even the artwork leading up to this issue played in the fear aspects; letting the inks and shading create a creepier tone. 56 just fell flat for me.
There were a few places that I felt were missed opportunities, but the most glaring one to me was at the very beginning of the issue. At the end of 55, we were in a park at night. A park that looked to be very large, covered in trees, and was getting overrun by Scarecrow’s fear zombies. The end of 55 was nightmare fuel. 56 starts back in the city. How did we get here? The Nightwings were ready to go in the park. Did one of them hit random during the stage select? I got excited to see this team face off against their first super villain, and for it to not go great. Sure, they’d ultimately win, but they would also lose something. Make that villain a king of fear, like Scarecrow, and make the setting the woods, at night, with dozens of regular people going primal thanks to fear and adrenaline? THAT SOUNDS AWESOME! Change the setting to a well lit street and make it more like a riot? Missed opportunity.
The artwork throughout the issue didn’t really bring me around even later in the issue. Scarecrow has had a pretty terrifying look through the arc. In 56, it’s a little more cartoony, to the point where some panels make me laugh a little. This makes the fear I have for this character drop pretty significantly. Some panels, he looks like a terrified lemur. This makes me want to squeeze him and let him know, 1.) It’s going to be ok, and 2.) He’s such a good boy, yes he is! Yes he is! All fear is gone.
When it came to the story itself, I was happy about the main beats of the issue. Seeing how the team reacted to a super villain, seeing how Ric reacted to seeing people in need, and seeing Ric go full Nightwing; these were great things. The issue I had was that it felt over-written at times, and I felt like I was being spoon fed things that really didn’t need to be spoon fed. Ric’s inner monologue at times felt more like a villain rant than the one that Scarecrow gives at the top of the issue (which was also kind of meh). Explaining Ric’s plan for the fear gas, and then a few panels later explaining the science behind it is one example. There a part of this issue where I genuinely thought, “do they not trust the reader, or do they not trust the artist?” There are so many ways to tell a story in a comic, spoon feeding isn’t necessary.
The last little gripe I have about this issue is kind of a small thing, but it bugged me for way too long after reading that I can’t not write about it. Warning: this may be a bit of a spoiler.
In the issue, a character is shot. Multiple times. If the onomatopoeias from Andworld Design are any indication, the character was shot 11 times. The artwork shows the TWO mind controlled cops within feet of the person who is shot. They have him dead to rights. The character is also leaping in the air, so he’s wide open in so many ways. He lives. 11 “POP”s, and he lives. The story puts most of it on the suit taking the damage, which I will buy. But here’s the thing with the Nightwing suit… it’s still just a domino mask. So much open space to be shot in. Head shots, last time I checked, kill ALMOST everything. This character was a couple of feet away, got shot 11 times, and not one of the cops raised his hand a couple inches higher and shot in the one place that wasn’t protected? Either pull it back on the onomatopoeias, or let the character die. Losing a teammate in their first fight against a villain? What would that death have done to the team? What would it have done to Ric? Missed opportunity.
Nightwing #56 has its moments in both the artwork and the story, but ultimately it’s a bit of a letdown. It felt like they had a great ending for this Scarecrow arc, but their minds were already on 57. The lead-in to next week lets us know that Duela Dent may be on her way and that makes me really excited! It also makes me worried. Duela is a really weird character, and if done right, this will be an incredibly fun issue; if not, well then, another missed opportunity.