Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Rick Leonardi (p), Jesse Delperdang (i)
The book opens in a supermarket where we see Nightwing in a heated battle with a trio of Bludhaven police officers, whose overly aggressive behavior & super-enhanced strength clearly show them to be consumers of the new energy drink that has been introduced into the market place. As Nightwing manages to keep this group occupied until the drug cut burn its way out of their systems, we see he then turns his attentions to locating the source, and he's quick to recognized the connection between these incidents of violence the new energy drink. After Dick locates the factory where the drink is produced & secures a sample, we see the results will take some time, and as such he goes about his day, which includes his continued alienation of Barbara, who is deeply concerned that Dick is burning his candle at both ends, and is on the verge of a mental & physical collapse. We then follow Nightwing as confronts the manufacturer of the energy drink, but when the man samples his own product and attempt to kill Nightwing, we see our hero uses his agility to trick the man into destroying the equipment that allowed him to produce the energy drink. We then see Dick return home for the night where he finds a surprise guest is waiting for him.
A pretty solid issue as much like Daredevil & Spider-Man, Nightwing's acrobatic fighting style works exceptionally well against opponents that possess super-strength. The opening tussle in the grocery store was a fun display of Nightwing's agility, and while the battle was over a bit quickly & the sheer momentum of that raging thug should've slammed that refrigerator door shut on that poor customer, the battle was an entertaining way of getting us right into the action. I also like the Jackie Chan style fighting, as Nightwing does make use of objects surrounding him to aid him in the fight, with his use of the dish-soap squeeze bottles being particularly amusing. As for the fight in the latter half of the issue, this tussle proves to be a far stronger display of the danger that super-strength poses, as we see Nightwing cleverly uses this strength to destroy the lab. Once again though I do have a question this issue's understanding of the simple laws of physics, as given we're shown that these punches are able to dent steel, there's no way Nightwing should've been able to stop that last blow. Still I did enjoy the roundabout way that Nightwing was able to solve his problem, and since this Mega-Flex drink plot doesn't look to be all that extensive of an idea, it's nice to see this issue effectively resolves the problem.
The book also continues to show us the slow disintegration of the relationship between Dick & Barbara, as Devin Grayson does seem to be focusing her attention on the idea that Dick is essentially a workaholic, who like most men is blissfully unaware that his inattentive behavior is driving his lady love away. Now given Oracle is the eyes and ears of the JLA, and an active partner of the globe trotting Black Canary, it would be nice to see Devin Grayson take a more evenhanded approach and hint that there are times when Barbara's attention level isn't where it needs to be, but I will concede that since this is Nightwing's book, it makes sense that we would focus on his shortcomings, as we can get a better look at Dick's juggling act. Plus, when one takes the time to consider he's an active member of the Titans, and his recent stint in the JLA, one does have to wonder how in the world he manages to keep all these balls in the air. The book also focus' on a couple other elements of Dick's world, as we see he learns the secret identity of the new Tarantula, and we also get a brief exchange between Dick & Batman, where we see Dick hasn't really gotten himself out of Batman's shadow, as one can see how Dick feels the overwhelming need to explain his actions to Batman.
I have to say Rick Leonardi is proving to be a pretty solid fit for this book, as he handles the action with a good eye for motion, and Nightwing's agility is nicely conveyed by the art. The work also delivers some impressive impact shots, as the soup can attack is quite impressive, as was the three panel sequence on page eighteen, where Nightwing avoids the big punch that destroys a large section of the lab. One also has to love the surprise factor of that final page, as how can one not love how Dick is tensed for a fight, while his unwanted house guest extrudes an almost chilling relaxed demeanor. I also have to say that this mystery villain continues to have one of the most visually engaging costume designs that George Pérez ever came up with. There's also some nice work on the little details, like the simple way that Dick manages to make the connection between the overly aggressive behavior of the police officers, and the energy drink that has been making it's way through the department. I also found his use of a batarang on page five rather amusing. I also have to give credit to this issue's cover, as while it oversells the encounter we receive inside, there's no denying that highly charged cover image makes one want to read the issue.
There is a certain degree of sameness that has crept into this title that one would've hoped would've been dealt with when the new creative team took over the book. On the other side of the equation though one could argue that it is good to see Devin Grayson recognized what worked on this title, and that she has kept the book on course. Now with this said this book could really use a good shot in the arm, and the arrival of a certain character on the final page of this issue could very well be the cure for what ails this title. I also approve of the bit of house cleaning that Devin Grayson looks to be engaging in, as a couple of lingering plot threads have been dealt with, and one has to admit that she did make a rather bold step when she killed off Dudley Soames. As for the plot involving the behavior modifying, strength enhancing energy drink, I'm glad to see this plot has wrapped up so quickly as this issue showed me the idea wasn't strong enough to supported an extended arc.
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