Nightwing # 96 Review

Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: War Games: Act 1 Part 3, A Sort of Homecoming

Script by: Devin Grayson
Penciled by: Mike Lilly
Inked by: Andy Owen
Colored by: Gregory Wright
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Michael Wright
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s difficult to respect Nightwing lately. He’s an accomplice to first-degree murder. He has no home, job, supporting cast or rogues gallery. His female co-star has stolen the spotlight for quite a few issues. And now his book has been dragged into what appears to be just another boring Bat-crossover. All in all, it’s easier to appreciate him in cameo form, like say Richard Dragon #2.

Regardless of the book’s slump, the current issue is just another bottle of cheap booze in a different brown bag. While Dick Grayson actually gets his own internal monologue, and is FINALLY beginning to come to terms with his role in the death of Blüdhaven’s premiere crime boss, this issue merely serves as a set-up for an uninteresting crossover arc. The Gotham gang war theme is just so tired! NML wasn’t so long ago that fans don’t remember it. Trotting the same plot out again negates any fun that could have been implicit in the premise. And Nightwing still hasn’t come clean to any of the important Bat-cast about his lapse in judgment. Whole geological epochs have come and gone waiting for that other shoe to drop. It’s distressing.

The art this issue, unlike most crossovers, is done by the original art team instead of a fill-in squad. While Lilly cannot match Zirche’s textured pencils or overall verve, his settings have a certain charm; the crowded inky settings breathe ambiance into the lukewarm story. The depictions of a few well-known characters seem a bit off (Tim and Leslie both seem too young), yet his action sequences and layout choices more than compensate. The color palette, while a bit plain, seems to suit the story’s nocturnal bent. Likewise, the book is neither over nor under-inked. This is a stand-up (if unremarkable) art effort overall.

The combination of the plodding (and let us never forget editorially imposed) plot, schismed characterization, and workaday art make this a forgettable issue in a declining book. If the book were to actually move forward with Dick’s guilt, or his destroyed life, or his unhealthy romance with the Tarantula, things would at least be exciting or (failing that) interesting. What readers get instead is another deferred reason to read this book alongside the latest and least interesting Bat-crossover to date.