Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Patrick Zircher (p), Andy Owens (i)
After their evening out is ruined by the party crashing Tarantula, Dick and Barbara retreat to the local amusement park where Dick learns Barbara has been giving some serious thought regarding their relationship, and she's decided it would be better for them both if they called it quits. Meanwhile, Tarantula returns to her new employer, Blockbuster to report the news of this parting of ways, and while he is pleased with the news, he has fair greater pains planned for Nightwing than a simple broken heart.
Since it is a fairly unexpected development I'm not quite sure if I should openly discuss it, but since I'm writing this review close to a week and a half after the issue was released, and this event is already shown up in the pages of this week's "Birds of Prey", I suspect the number of people who have yet to learn about this issue's surprise is small enough that it doesn't make much sense for me not to express my thoughts on the matter. Basically this issue has Barbara telling Dick to hit the road as she has decided she's going to alienate everyone who that she cares for, who are regularly putting their lives in danger. To further drive this point home Devin Grayson awkwardly pushes the idea of Barbara's own shooting as an example of what could happen if Dick and the others continue to risk their lives. Now on one hand I do like the consistency of character that is being displayed between this book and Barbara's own title, as over in "Birds of Prey" she's performing this same trick with the Black Canary. However, I remain unconvinced that turning Barbara into a worrisome mother-hen who has suddenly realized the super-hero profession in a dangerous business is the smartest road to take this character down, because this issue ends with Nightwing coming across as the victim of a rather unreasonable Barbara, as the issue doesn't really convey the reasons why she's dumping him as effectively as they've been presented over in "Birds of Prey". To tell the truth though I rather like the idea of Nightwing being free to get back with Starfire though.
As for the art, Patrick Zircher's arrival on this book remains a welcome move as his art is nicely reminiscent of Greg Land's memorable run, though there's a bit more detail on the page. Now, this issue opens with a fairly solid bit of action and while the series of panels that line the bottom of the double-page spread that opens the action doesn't make for the most visually gripping battle scene, as the action plays out in a series of relatively small panels, the follow-up pages where Barbara squares off against her attacker more than make up for it with a couple great impact panels. The art also makes good use of its amusement park setting later in the issue, as there's a great establishing shot to open the scene, and there's also some solid background detailing (e.g. the crowd lined up for the Tunnel of Love). The art also does some nice work selling Blockbuster's imposing size.
One's enjoyment of this issue is largely dependent on how big a fan you were of Dick and Barbara's relationship, as if you think the two were destined to be together than I imagine you'll be annoyed by the roadblock the relationship hits in this issue. Devin Grayson doesn't exactly help much either as she makes Barbara's behavior highly contradictory, and in some cases downright goofy (she's upset that Dick acted to protect her from a knife/gun welding manic in the opening pages, because she feels herself capable of dealing with this threat by herself in full view of dozens of witnesses). In the end, I have to say I'm not overly upset by this turn of events as frankly I feel Dick and Barbara work better apart, as their personalities were too alike to really offer up any interesting sparks, and frankly the Titans fan in me is far more interested in seeing Dick get back with the rather temperamental Starfire, while the Blue Beetle fan rather hopes Barbara renews her acquaintance with Ted. Still, while I wasn't a fan of their relationship, I found this issue's breakup to be rather poorly handled.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!