Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Patrick Zircher (p), Andy Owens (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
After an awkward moment where we see Dick is sent packing by Barbara, who is unwilling to act as the shoulder that Dick can lean on for support in his time of need, we soon see Barbara may soon have cause to regret this cold shoulder, as Dick's world is shattered by Blockbuster's latest attack. As his supporting cast is ripped apart, we see Nightwing is driven to the point where his only thoughts are of vengeance upon Blockbuster, but the villain has been busy making preparations.
Devin Grayson does seem to be following the formula that Frank Miller used during his classic Daredevil arc "Fall from Grace", with Blockbuster playing the role of the Kingpin, as we watch this villain systematically take apart Nightwing's life. Now this issue contains the most dramatic attack that has ever been made against Nightwing, and I have to say that I loved the sheer anger that we see from Nightwing in the final pages, as frankly this isn't something we've seen from Dick all that often, and one has to admire this issue's final pages where it's clear that Nightwing is going after Blockbuster, and unlike most battles this time one can't be sure that Nightwing isn't going to this confrontation with murder on the mind. I mean Nightwing has never been a character who I've ever seen as being driven into a murderous fury, but this issue does a very effective job of taking the character down this road, and the final pages of this issue do a fantastic job of making it clear that Nightwing has nothing left to lose, as Devin Grayson has pretty much burned all the character's bridges. His relationship with Barbara has ended, he's lost his day job on the Bludhaven police force, and this issue effectively decimates the character's supporting cast. The issue also sets up a very interesting situation in the final pages, as Devin Grayson looks to have gone through the character's rogues gallery, and brought them all together for this final showdown.
Patrick Zircher is given a fairly important task in this issue as he has to visually present the chaos that erupts in this book when Blockbuster makes his latest attack upon Nightwing, and I have to say that he more than delivers, as this issue's explosion stands up as one of the best I've ever seen. I mean I seen literally thousands of explosions in my comic reading experience, and I have to say this issue's double page presentation stands up as one of the most striking visuals I've come across in years. I mean it's truly an explosion that reminds one of the impact an artist can have on a story. The follow-up material as Nightwing searches for survivors is also wonderful work, as the art perfectly captures the character's desperation, and his anguish as he moves through the fiery hell. The scene where Aaron emerges from the rubble is also quite powerful, as one is actively terrified of this character, while at the same time one has to feel tremendous pity for him, as this character's entire world has been shattered. In fact I'd love to see Patrick Zircher deliver a battle between Blockbuster and Aaron, as this issue perfectly captures the character's raw emotion.
The explosive surprise of this issue would've carried a greater impact if Devin Grayson had taken the time to reintroduce readers to these characters, as frankly I don't think most of them have even made a single appearance in the book since she took over, with the only really exception being Yoska, who Devin Grayson only got around to inserting into the cast only a couple of issues back so we've barely had the opportunity to develop much of an attachment to the character before he was taken away. Now, I will concede that having been with this book from the beginning, I'm curious about the fate of certain characters who had played a fairly big role in this book before Devin Grayson came on board, and she does a pretty fair job of reminding us about a character that I had completely forgotten about, as Aaron makes a fairly memorable return to these pages. Still while the situation does qualify as a major turning point in Dick's life I found myself having to really work to remember who exactly would've been killed in this explosion, as Devin Grayson hasn't really spent much time in this corner of Dick's world, and as such this issue explosive removal of these characters wasn't nearly as effective as it might've been had Devin Grayson made an effort to touch base with these characters before she killed them off. As it stands one has to rely on memory to remember the relationships that were destroyed in this issue.
Villains, Killers And Squirrels, Oh My:
This issue has been advertised as the big one that will rocked Nightwing to the very core of his being, and I have to say that for the most part this issue delivers on that promise as it delivers a fairly major shift in this book's status quo, and one has to imagine that it's going to be a long time before things settle back down to normal. Now there are far worse things this book could've done to Nightwing, but this issue's explosive surprise is quite effective, especially if one is a longtime reader, and is able to remember when the characters that are killed off in this issue played a larger role in the book. Still, this issue is largely about setting Nightwing down a path in which he'll be gunning for Blockbuster with a murderous intent, and the final pages of this issue make it clear that Nightwing has been pushed as far as he's willing to go, and Blockbuster had best hope that the killers he's assembled to take down Nightwing are up to the task of taking him down, as Nightwing is clearly in a mood where I wouldn't be surprised if he was willing to kill Blockbuster.
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