Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Chris Mooneyham
Color: Nick Filardi
When Grayson wakes up the morning after the Phantasm FitBit burrowed its way into his six pack, he finds that he can’t remember anything. Nothing seems right, but everything feels real. With bodies racking up, Grayson doesn’t have time to live in a haze, and Nightwing #45 brings us a little closer to whoever is behind it all.
When I first sat down to read this issue, I’d forgot that, thanks to Phoenix Comic Fest, I was an issue behind. The opening pages ran me through a lot of different emotions, but mostly excited confusion. I realized pretty quickly that I missed a lot (like the beginning of Benjamin Percy’s run), and had no idea what was going on. This actually made me more excited about #45, because I knew exactly how Grayson felt.
Throughout the issue, there is a familiar feel for fans of Percy’s most recent Green Arrow run. A large and mysterious corporate entity comes in to bring a city into the future. While it does feel familiar and like it may get close to a rehash with different characters, it actually works very well. I’ve been alive long enough to have seen how the internet went from non-existent to absolutely unavoidable and necessary to our day to day lives.
I remember the early sounds of dubstep (we called it dial up), AOL instant messenger, and Geocities. GEOCITIES!!! I also know that you don’t have to be that old to remember these things. The point is, the internet (and the technology that came with it) has grown so much in such a little time, that this “City of Tomorrow” feels like it could actually pop up tomorrow (if it hasn’t already. I don’t go out much. The sun’s out there). This also isn’t so much of a story about the city growing, while its hero falls. This is a story about Grayson. It’s about who he is, and where he fits in with this tech driven world.
The other familiarity that GA fans will notice is the relationship between Grayson and Babs. It feels very Ollie and Dinah in parts. Let me clarify that this is not a bad thing at all. Part of why I enjoy comics so much isn’t because of the huge action sequences that get you feverishly turning the pages (although I do very much enjoy that), it’s the character driven stories that I love. Who the character is and how they interact with the world around them. How they interact with the people around them (romantic or otherwise). When it comes to Grayson, there is a list of characters you can’t help but love to see him with (Bruce, Wally, Damian, Helena… you get it), but none of them stick out more in my head than Barbara Gordon. You give me a story line that features Grayson/Babs, I am going to jump all over it, and I absolutely love how Percy plays with the relationship in this issue.
The flow of the artwork from Chris Mooneyham does feel a little clunky at times, but the artwork itself is stunning. The large piece where Grayson’s mind is depicted as a circuit board sucked me in. Follow that up with the “neural download” notifications, and it really brings another layer to Percy’s story. Tech is everywhere, and there is no escape. There are also a lot of funny moments in Mooneyham’s artwork that you can’t help but love (like Grayson getting caught creeping over Detective Svoboda’s shoulder.)
Pairing Mooneyham’s artwork with colors from Nick Filardi, helps bring this story to life in a very subtle, but awesome way. Blüdhaven is quickly being “technologically gentrified”, but as Nightwing swings across the rooftops, you still see the gloom and grit that comes with the Blüd. It is to become a “City of Tomorrow”, but that takes time. Right now, Blüdhaven is somewhere between Gotham and Star City (both metaphorically, and literally between the two DC map wise). On its way up, but still filled with so much darkness. The color choice really makes you feel like you’re on the docks waiting for Grayson too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this issue. Percy brings us a world that is not so far away, and shows us how our dependency on technology can (and probably will someday) be used against us. At the same time, we are getting this really compelling character driven story from Grayson. Great artwork can make or break a comic, and this artwork really does well of adding a tone of gloom within Grayson and the city of Blüdhaven. While the big bad does seem a bit of a no brainer at this point, I know better than to think that Percy would make it that easy. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in #46, but with Grayson’s information out for consumption, I have a feeling it’s going to get nuts.