As the engine of anger that is Nightwing slams into a waiting Shrike, we see the battle is yet another short-lived affair, as Nightwing is able to pummel the hired killer senseless, and when Blockbuster spots that his last line of defense has fallen we see he’s satisfied that Nightwing has descended to the level of anguish that he was looking to place him. We then see Dick takes time out from his war on Blockbuster to pay his respects to the people who were killed in the apartment explosion, but the issue ends with the revelation that Blockbuster isn’t done messing with Dick’s life.
I really didn’t like this issue, and unless Devin Grayson manages to deliver an impressive finish to what has be a seriously disappointing arc, I find myself seriously considering dropping this title. It’s starting to become clear that Devin Grayson is too attached to Nightwing that she seems to reluctant to offer up any moment where the character looks like he’s going to lose. This was a problem that I found myself encountering during her run on the Titans as well, as for some reason she seem unable to key to the fact that a hero is only as strong as the villains they faces, and as such by continually offering up villains that never really pose a threat to the hero, she is damaging the hero. Now I realize that this is the good side of the column so I really should be making mention of something that I enjoyed about this issue. However the best I can do is say that Devin Grayson has proven she’s a talented writer, as she has a solid grasp on elements that give other writers trouble, with a firm grasp dialogue that reflects the personalities of the characters she’s writing, and she’s able to come up with some engaging plots to involve the characters of the books that she writes. What’s more the problem I have with her work is easily fixed, as all she has to do is deliver villains that are allowed to be effective when they are fighting against the hero. I mean it’s a very simple solution and it’s easily accomplished, but if she continues down this path, she’s making it very easy to drop this title, which would be a shame since I’ve been following the adventures of Dick Grayson since the first issue of the New Teen Titans.
The biggest disappointment about this issue is that Patrick Zircher is a wonderful artist when it comes to delivering action, so it’s a shame to see Devin Garyson displays such a reluctance to offer up an extended sequence where he could really cut loose. The opening sequence of this issue acts as a great teaser of what we can expect, as Nightwing’s attacks have a nice bone-crunching quality to them, and watching the two characters move through the interior of this mansion shows a wonderful ability to recognize the idea that the setting of a battle can play an important role in the action. The art also manages to capture the idea that Nightwing has gone over the line as his interaction with Amy is the closest the character has ever come to outdoing Batman when it comes to his dealing with others in a dismissive manner. There’s also a fairly powerful little moment where we see Nightwing’s solution to the idea that he doesn’t have a home he can return to. Great looking cover image as well, though it’s a shame the battle inside doesn’t quite live up to the promise of this powerful cover visual.
The frustrating thing about this arc is Devin Grayson has set up a truly engaging situation, as Nightwing has set his sights on Blockbuster, and in response the villain has assembled an army of super-powered opponents made up of pretty much every villain that Nightwing has squared off with in the past. However, Devin Grayson seems to be of the mind that all it takes to entertain the readers with these encounters is to show Nightwing beating the crud out of these villains. I mean this issue is particularly annoying as it starts off rather well by delivering a battle where Shrike is able to tag Nightwing a couple times, and the battle cuts away with Shrike makes a statement that leaves one believing the character is ready for round two, but after the book looks in on Blockbuster, we rejoin the battle to see Nightwing has tied the defeated Shrike to a flagpole. Now I consider myself rather easy to please when it comes to comic book slugfests, as all I ask for from them is for the writers to recognize the fact that the fights are there to entertain the audience. With this in mind I have to openly question what is entertaining about watching Nightwing fighting a string of battles where there’s no sense of doubt established about the final outcome? Essentially what Devin Grayson has accomplished with this arc is she’s made it clear that Nightwing’s rogues gallery is made up of a bunch of sad sacks, and that all it really takes for Nightwing to be successful against them is for him to be angry when he’s fighting them.
The Keystone Rogues:
A truly annoying issue as Devin Grayson managed to come up with a solid looking bit of action and then she throws it all away by delivering the big battle largely off panel. I mean if she has some aversion to delivering action than simply offer up a story that isn’t so dependent on it. However, to take the readers to the point where they are anticipating an enjoyable battle and then to offer up what this issue does is downright insulting. I mean it’s issues like this that turn me off a book, and given Nightwing was one of my favorite DC titles before Devin Grayson took over the writing reins, I have to say there’s something wrong with this picture. Now she’s a talented writer, as her work on a Nightwing annual from a few years back stands up as one of my all time favorite Nightwing stories, but if she’s not able to deliver solid action sequences than perhaps this is the wrong book for her to be writing. If nothing else she need to recognize that setting up a battle, and than cheating the readers out of watching it play out is not going to win her many fans. The cliffhanger moment is also a bit silly as I seriously doubt Blockbuster would endanger his position of power in the city by alienating his operatives in the Bludhaven police department.