NIGHTWING #96 review by James Armstrong
Hot damn, this story arc went out with a bang.
NIGHTWING #96 is one of the most satisfying comics I’ve read in a long while and that says a lot for an already stellar run by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo and company. I don’t know if BOF allows a higher grade than A+.
We open with huge stakes already established. Haven is burning and Blockbuster has discovered Dick Grayson is Nightwing after knocking his mask off in the beginning of their brawl in NIGHTWING #95.
The dialogue by Taylor has that comic book flare that borders on cliché but that only makes it all the more lovable (think the Adam West BATMAN show). I had the best smirk on my face when Blockbuster, upon learning Nightwing’s identity, calls him “a Russian nesting doll of vermin.” That’s the stuff right there.
The art by Redondo felt raw and graceful at the same time, appropriate for a climactic fight between our acrobatic hero and the massive villain. The fight begins with a close-up on Nightwing’s chest, his symbol already bloodstained as he cracks his knuckles preparing to fight for his life.
What follows is a super cool two-page, 12-panel fight scene. Nightwing, monologuing about how he detests those in power who choose to pursue violence and more power, unleashes a barrage of attacks on the bad guy. He even grapnels Blockbuster’s chest to pull himself in for a kick to the face. Such a satisfying fight with the words and art working perfectly in sync.
Great use of Nightwing’s Escrima Sticks in the fight coordination. Escrima Stick-fu, as Joe Bob Briggs would call it on his MONSTERVISION Drive-In Totals. We also get some Book-fu as Nightwing hits Blockbuster with a hardback copy of MOBY DICK. Possibly a JOHN WICK: PARABELLUM reference. More likely a way to establish Blockbuster as Nightwing’s White Whale.
There’s plenty more to love in this issue. While there aren’t many of the usual Nightwing one-liners we are treated to the best joke about censorship/the comics code ever.
Finally, fans of Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s romance are in for a treat with this one. Not spoiling that. I’d almost say the interaction between these two alone is why you should check out this issue. But that’s a half-truth as the fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster one-ups that.
Never noticed before now that Babs has beautiful green eyes. – James Armstrong