NIGHTWING REBIRTH Vol. 1-3
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist(s): Javier Fernandez, Yannick Paquette, Marcus To, et al
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
There are three things I usually do around the New Year: Contemplate a myriad of bad life decisions, buy way too many trade paperbacks using Barnes and Nobles Buy 2, Get 1 deal online (usually making books like 40% of cover), and then waste the only real slow time I have from work in a year reading all of said trades. Part of this is because I love comics, mostly it’s because I’m a sociopath who loves comics and am constantly giving into the desire to catch up on any run I even get a whiff of positive feedback on that I’m not already reading, especially a character I enjoy like I do Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, aka Captain Hotbuns. The obvious question here is “Well, if you like the character THAT much, why weren’t you already reading his book?” to which I say, motherfucka, do you not see how many comic books are out in a month? Sometimes you just have to find out the hard way you missed out on something, especially when it was shipping bimonthly for a pretty solid period of time. And after reading these first three volumes of the REBIRTH era of the first Robin, with a fourth already ordered and on the way next week, I feel like “missing out” is the correct terminology for my not having picked up the book as it was coming monthly.
I guess further admonishment could go on considering that for those who were reading GRAYSON before REBIRTH would have attested that Tim Seeley was already writing a pretty hot Dick (Grayson) though, to be fair, I wasn’t really much engaged with that book in the arc of it I tried. I didn’t mind the idea of “Dick Grayson, super spy” but the execution left me a little cold as the book felt very “jumpy” by throwing that Dick around the globe (and orbit) at an unrelenting pace. Plus, I wasn’t much digging the organization of Spyral as a whole very much. The organization felt at the same time both all reaching and ever powerful and kind of aloof and incompetent. But with Rebirth, Seeley and company (company typically being Javier Fernandez on pencils and Chris Sotomayor on colors for the majority of these volumes) brings Dick back in from the cold and puts him a familiar place of being the “light-hearted Batman alternative” and juggling his urges to be always on the move but there for his family and loved ones in a heartbeat, which is where I feel the character is at his best. The appeal of Dick Grayson was always how he had multiple legacies to live up to but at the same time not wanting to have his life dominated by them, and that’s exactly the angle Seeley is playing at in these volumes.
I hate to typecast the character given how diverse he has always shown to be – he did just spend almost three years as a goddamn spy nearing seventy some years after his creation after all – but this is a good and comfortable place for him to be. Dick Grayson needs to be around people not out of necessity but because he feeds off their emotional energy while providing whatever boost they need. That and having a mission – in this case some unfinished business with the Parliament of Owls – and that’s his sweet spot. Seeley has Dick still gallivanting the world, working on the down low to undermine the Parliament (and introducing the character of Raptor, who is a good foil for Dick), and doing everything he can to work out from under the shadow of the Bat, which is where he thrives even though all the DCU knows he’s just as capable of being the Bat while not falling into the hole of all of that “Vengeance of the Night” schtick. Then we find Dick back “home” again in the dirty little city that could, Bludhaven, and everything has come full circle.
Just like with the character defining Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel run twenty-some years ago, putting Dick back in his own project town just feels right. I guess it could be a “shame” that after all he’s been through, running multiple teams, taking up the mantle of the Bat, the whole spy thing, etc, that we’re back to a point where Dick is just off playing “Batman Junior” cleaning up the streets of his own crime ridden cesspit, but I feel like that’s where Dick Grayson really shines. The Batman has always been a character that itches in his own skin when he’s not in cape and cowl. “Bruce Wayne is the mask while Batman is who he really is” has always been the popular line of dissection on that character, but Dick Grayson needs to be Dick Grayson. He needs people, he needs relationships and to be something that just a moonlight ass kicker. Seeley puts him back in Bludhaven and immediately puts him to work – this time as a youth counselor instead of working a beat like in the Dixon run – and gets him in a relationship that gets serious ASAP, as well as putting him against some colorful new villains and, of course, having his past come back to haunt him.
Now, slight downside to this run (so far in my reading), is that, like the GRAYSON run, things do seem to be a little frantic. Obviously since Seeley’s run on the book has ended as of me reading these volumes, he had some things he really wanted to accomplish before he moved on and it shows. Dick’s new relationship goes from fledgling to encompassing romance literally in the span of an issue as Seeley covers something like three months of them together in one issue. There’s all the Parliament stuff, the Raptor stuff, the move back to Bludhaven, and on and on. I guess it could feel a little crammed since I read it all at once, but given this series was coming out twice a month, I imagine it feel furiously paced reading it that way as well. Regardless, Seeley and the crew of artists that managed this book – especially Javier Fernandez as the primary pencil tip – have done a pretty bang up job of letting Dick swing.
He’s still that charming ball of restless energy that keeps reassuring him that he has nothing to prove while still constantly trying to prove to himself and his contemporaries that he doesn’t need the dark side that gives Batman his edge. And he’s got a more grounded supporting cast again, or at least the start of one by the last volume of these I got to read. Sure, his girlfriend is an ex-villain but he’s no longer on a campus where all his interactions are with highly trained killing machines. He’s back to sailing through the skies, winning the admiration of his peers from the D-tier to the Big Blue Boy Scout himself, and rushing home at night to steal a little romance and leaving the brooding to the professionals. I’m glad I took the time to add these books to and take them off the pile while on break and am looking forward to seeing how Seeley and company wrapped it all up as their final volumes drop in the next couple months.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to AICN COMICS and now at MLMILLERWRITES.COM. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to – funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He’s a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn’t the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.