Dick Grayson has long been one of my favorite characters in fiction. He’s the beating heart of the DC Universe. He’s a hero that was allowed to grow up, to become his own man, to forge his own path away from that of his mentor. All of the original Teen Titans have a place in my heart, but Dick Grayson is special. Just this week, I purchased Robin: The Bronze Age Omnibus, which features the stories that would eventually lead to Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing. Nightwing #78 is a return to what makes the character so special in a way we haven’t seen in a very long time.
Wes Abbott (letters), Adriano Lucas (colors), Bruno Redondo (art and cover), Tom Taylor (writer)
March 16, 2021
This is a spoiler-free review of Nightwing #78.
It’s no secret that the last twenty years have not been kind to Dick Grayson. In part that’s because the former publisher of DC Comics, Dan Didio, actively disliked the character. He felt that a grown-up Robin made Batman seem old, and he deigned to kill him on multiple occasions, starting with Infinite Crisis #6. He succeeded during the New 52 crossover Forever Evil, but only temporarily, and then Dick became a super-spy in the pages of Grayson (sadly probably the best Dick Grayson story we’ve gotten since the New 52 rebooted continuity). The last damage to the character done during Didio’s tenure was when Dick Grayson got shot in the head in Batman #55. The ensuing two years of stories were an amnesiac Grayson now going by Ric and not being Nightwing. It was a miserable, way too drawn-out span.
With Didio gone, I had hope that things would get better for one of my favorite characters. When Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo were announced as the new creative team, I was a little leery. I like Taylor and Redondo just fine, but it has been literal years of Dick Grayson being treated extremely poorly by DC Comics. A part of me had also hoped that the next writer on the character would be a woman because Dick is the kind of character that really shines when written by a woman.
That said, Taylor and Redondo are far from the worst creative team I can imagine for the book. Taylor has a knack for humor that is at the core of Dick’s character, meaning that his version will likely be a bit wittier than he’s been for a while. Redondo is good at mixing up the personal and the action sequences, so I have faith that the art will also show the heart of the character. Best of all, Taylor and Redondo work well together and have a proven chemistry.
So while I had faith in this new team, I was still waiting to see what I thought of the actual output. Now that I’ve had a chance to read the first issue (a few times in fact), I feel very confident in the direction this book is about to take. Redondo and Taylor are both putting out some career-best work here, and I can see some positive comparisons coming to mind with Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye. It’s the same style of comic as that, but a little different focus.
The color palette of Adriano Lucas is also a star in this issue, making it feel distinctly different from books set in Gotham. While it’s brighter and more colorful than Gotham, it also has a feeling of dirtiness and unease, and a lot of that comes from Lucas’s color choices. The orange and yellow glows contrast wonderfully with the blue and black of Nightwing’s costume as he works before the darkness fully washes over Blüdhaven.
The preview pages included here are a great example of what to expect in the comic itself. A big theme is Dick fighting back against bullies. He’s got a past as a kid who lost everything, but instead of letting that destroy him, he focused on making sure that others wouldn’t go through that same pain, and that’s something I relate deeply to. Nightwing #78 is the Nightwing comic I’ve been waiting years for, and it feels really good to see a return to form for the character.