Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Zack Kaplan
Art: Travis Moore
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
In Nightwing #57, the dust begins to settle after the Scarecrow attack, and it’s back to normal in Blüdhaven. While Ric gets back to his fruitless quest of living a normal life, Bea speaks for the forgotten residents of the Blüd, as a new sports arena is about to start construction. Bea gets a little unexpected, and rather aggressive, assistance from another former Gotham resident, Duela Dent.
57 has its good moments, and not so good moments. As a first issue of a new arc, it does its job of introducing the new big bad, giving us the drive of that big bad, and giving us a lot of possibilities as to what could happen. It is a decent issue, but it can definitely (and most likely will) get lost in the NCBD shuffle.
The weakest aspect of Nightwing, as a title, right now is definitely Ric, and the issue is more of that. I will admit, my dislike for Ric does have a little bit of the nerd “I HATE CHANGE!!!” mentality with one of my favorite characters, but my gripes with Ric are bigger than that at this point. While I understand what they are trying to do with Ric, it just doesn’t seem to be coming together. At times, it feels like we are just rehashing everything for 17 pages. This is especially the case with Ric’s inner monologue. It’s just issue after issue of Ric saying he’s not Nightwing, he has cool reflexes he can’t explain, he wants a normal life, he’s thinking about a time he did something not normal. I get it, Ric is lost, but the reader isn’t. It feels unnecessarily spoon-fed, or like they just don’t know how to progress Ric Grayson as a character anymore, without just making him Dick again.
While Ric does ultimately bring down his own title, there are some higher points of the issue where we do get some great character growth. I really loved Bea in this issue. She’s been a pretty decent character up to this point, but she mostly served as the other half of an awkward relationship with Ric. In this issue, we see Bea as more than the mysterious bar tender. We learn a little more about how she grew up and what drives her. She gives a speech at a town hall meeting that is so powerful and eloquent, that the politician uses later as slimy campaign talk with Vicki Vale. We also get to see how much she does actually care about Ric and his search when she has a conversation with Babs at Prodigal Bar. She speaks of Ric finding himself not in a, “Screw you, he’s moved on”, kind of vibe; she is much more sensitive to how hard it must be for Babs. The fact that Bea is getting a lot more development now may also mean that either something really bad is going to happen to her, or Ric is going to have to choose between his life with Bea, or going back to his life as Dick Grayson for the people of Blüdhaven.
Duela Dent is our big bad this arc, and I am actually pretty excited. This does seem like a bit of a mild version of Duela, but again, it’s the first issue of the arc. Mild version also includes acid to the face, so… you know… take that how you will. The first time we see Duela did make me roll my eyes a bit, but it could have easily been fixed if her main dialog was in a thought bubble instead of a speech bubble. Her true introduction in the issue is so much better. Sure, she drops a pun straight out of an Adam West Batman episode, but that eye roll gets washed away pretty quickly in the next panel. We see her pretty much empty the magazine of her machine gun on a car, and when we pull away, the two men up front are dead, and there is a smiley face shot into the hood. The smiley face in the hood is my favorite piece of art in the issue, because it’s so subtle (I missed it in the first read), and yet it speaks so much about Duela. Also, Duela is wearing a New 52 Joker face, which just adds to her insanity factor. I can’t wait to see how far they push this character.
We do see two of the Nightwings, and they both seem to be in the issue just to foreshadow. First we see Detective Edwards working a case with Svoboda, that doesn’t seem to have much to do with the rest of the issue. It is the first time we see her actually working as a cop, and she is over it pretty quickly. The artwork in this sequence does bug me for two reasons. 1.) Holy quick change Nightwing! How did Svoboda not look back and see Edwards getting into her disco Nightwing suit? 2.) What kind of overkill battering ram does she just randomly carry with her “in case Nightwing things”? The explosion at the door looks like Raven’s Soul Self is doing a home invasion, and then when the dust settles, it is a standard issue battering ram. Regardless, Edwards made the right call with this creeper, but she is definitely being set up to take something too far as a Detective because of her life as a Nightwing.
Sap meets with Ric after bringing his cab back, and it goes pretty much the way I expected it too. Sap says they need Ric’s help, Ric says no (because he wants a normal life), Sap says pretty please, and Ric gives in. Ric WILL be Nightwing again, but I see us reading slightly different versions of this conversation at least 2-3 more times before he breaks Bea’s heart (after finally letting her guard down) and puts the domino mask back on for good. (It’s definitely possible it will be more than 2-3 more times).
Nightwing #57 does its job as a part one to a new arc. Had most of Ric’s contribution to this issue been edited down/out (mainly the rehashing inner monologue), I think I would have genuine excitement as to where this new Duela Dent story could go and how insane it can get. I think I’d be marking my calendar for #58’s release so I could see how much more about Bea we will learn. Unfortunately, I know Ric will be thinking again, and that drops my excitement down a bit. The fact that it’s starting off slow does give me hope that they will build a good character story for Duela, like they did with Scarecrow. I just have to hope they end stronger than they did with Scarecrow. It’s only the first issue so we will see where this ride takes us.