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Nightwing #76

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Mike Lilly (p), Andy Owens (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Nightwing arriving just seconds before the home of his partner Amy comes under fire from a rogue band of Bludhaven police, who are looking for payback, as it was Amy who delivered Mary Redhorn's journal to the proper authorities. As Nightwing is able to keep Amy's children from wandering into the line of fire, we see Amy's husband begins to express his doubts about Nightwing. However we see Amy looks to trust Nightwing, and after her family is able to make it out of the firing range that had become her bedroom, we see Amy prepares to seek out the safety of the basement, when Nightwing warns her that the police might have placed a bomb in the house. We then see Nightwing heads back outside, while Amy and her family head for the garage to make a speedy getaway. While Nightwing busies himself chasing the fleeing police, we see Amy is able to get her family out of the house seconds before it is consumed by a massive explosion. After we see Nightwing takes a tumble off his motorbike, and the police get away, we join Dick the next day as he is surprised to discover Amy has made her way into work. We then see he's able to have a nice conversation with her, where he manages to get across the idea that she shouldn't let the desire for vengeance drive her into taking any rash actions.

Comments:
Nightwing rescues his partner from his day job as a police officer, from the vengeance of the Bludhaven police officers who were taken down as a direct result of her efforts, and this made for a pretty exciting issue as we see Nightwing keeping them out of harm's way, while his partner reveals that she can hold her own in a fire fight, and what's more she's not completely resistant to the idea of receiving help from a vigilante. In fact she even goes as far to call Nightwing a hero, and while I personally feel she should be able to see through Dick's disguise, I understand why Devin Grayson might not be able to take this next step, as having her know Nightwing's secret identity would impact the Batman books. Still it is nice to see Nightwing's efforts in this issue have earned him an ally on the police force, and in spite of Batman's urging for him to drop the day job, Dick is still putting on the uniform, and making Bludhaven a better place as a member of its police force. Now I'll concede that this situation might not extend beyond the latest arc that has Dick dealing with the backlash that the release of Mary's journal has generated, but frankly I wouldn't mind seeing this situation continue, as it allows Dick's out-of-costume dealings to be just as engaging as his Nightwing adventures.

I do have a couple concerns about the way things play out in this issue though. The first involves Nightwing's efforts to bring the police officers that attacked Amy's home to justice, as I've studied to panels that detail his efforts, and I think confusion is the best word to describe my reaction to these pages. Now I guess that object that Nightwing threw at the one car could've been a tracking device that would help him identify the guilty parties at a later date, but these pages have police cars coming in both directions, and Nightwing's making his acrobatic leaps for no reason other than to allow the situation to look more exciting than it really is. There's also the idea that the action just sort of ends, as Nightwing tumbles off his bike, and comes to the realization that these police officers aren't looking to get away with this crime they've just committed. To put it simply Devin Grayson is a bit too dependent on the art to deliver the action, that she offers up a situation that isn't simply isn't explained as well as it needed to be. I also found Dick's speech to Amy about not giving into the desire for revenge a bit trite given he's taking to a woman who has just had the life of her family threatened, and her home blown to kingdom come.

As I mentioned above there is a rather confusing sequence in this issue, where the art isn't all that clear what Nightwing was doing while he was playing in traffic with the police cars. However, Mike Lilly turns in some pretty strong work at the start of this issue, as we see Nightwing dives through the window encircled by a rain of bullets, and the following pages do a nice job of playing up the idea that this house is under siege. The art also does some nice work conveying the terror & determination of the people trapped inside this house, with a particularly impressive scene playing out when Nightwing makes his promise to the children about his return. The double-page spread of the house being consumed by an explosion was also an impressive piece of art, as it nicely captures the violence of this attack. There's also some strong work on the scene where Dick investigates the ruins of Amy's home, as the burning anger that is present below the surface is nicely captured in the close-up panels that show us the eyes of the characters. I also have to make mention of the idea once again that this book has itself one of the best cover artists in the business, as Michael Golden once again delivers an explosive look at the story one can expect to see inside.

Final Word:
A pretty solid issue in terms of pure action, as up until the rather confusing finish that this sequence was saddled with Nightwing's efforts to protect Amy & her family from the retaliation of the Bludhaven police made for some exciting reading. It's also nice to see Amy expressing a degree of trust toward Nightwing, as this nicely contrasts what one normally sees, as most times police officers are conditioned to distrust vigilantes. Now the final third of this issue isn't quite as strong, as I found Dick's big speech to be a bit much, and Amy's quick agreement makes it seem like there wasn't all that much convincing that Dick had to do, which is a bit of a shame, as Devin Grayson missed a pretty solid opportunity to explore the idea of a mother's anger over having her children made into targets. Still it is nice to see that the Bludhaven police situation is still far from being resolved, and that the corrupt elements are still a threat.



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