Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Chris Mooneyham
Colors: Nick Filardi
Nightwing #59 brings a new arc, a new writer, and a new(ish) Ric. A new big bad has come to Blüdhaven and is putting the city’s firefighters to work. Meanwhile, our firefighter Nightwing Malcolm Hutch comes face to face with his biggest failure.
It is Dan Jurgens’ turn at the helm of Nightwing, and if you read my reviews of Green Lanterns, you know this makes me very happy! While I am sad to see Scott Lobdell go, I do think it was time for a little change. Since Grayson’s bullet to the head, this series seems to have struggled with what to do with Ric. There is a lot of potential with Ric being who he is now; it just never seemed to get the traction I’d hoped for.
This issue has its faults, but there is a lot to get excited about. It serves as a pretty standard first issue to an arc, while giving us a taste of where Jurgens plans on taking us.
One of the issues I had with 59 was some of the timing throughout the story. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it did, it felt almost sit-com convenient. Hutch goes to a hospital room he’s not supposed to be in (per the wishes of the patient’s family) and before he can even sit down in the chair, Sap is there to get him out. Just before that, Ric asks Hutch about his Academy training, and it just happens to be the worst day to do that. They were minor timing things, but they bugged me. Probably more than it should have, if I’m being honest.
There were also some weird, almost winking at the camera, art/script combinations. At times it worked, like Ric saying “No need to wear the colors”, when his trunks are old school Nightwing colors. Other times, it was a little cheesy, like Hutch thinking “…behind me”, when the hospital is behind him.
These are minor gripes when looking at the issue as a whole.
Chris Mooneyham and Nick Filardi continue to make Nightwing a visually exciting series to read. The training session between Hutch and Ric has a certain life to it. I felt like I could see the sparring happening right in front of me. Mooneyham and Filardi bring the action out, and that’s what keeps me coming back.
The artwork really shines in the closing pages of this issue. A raging fire around them and the fear in their eyes builds a tension that 1.) gave me a lot of anxiety (going out in a fire is in my top 3 worst ways to go) and 2.) helped the cliff hanger at the end really land.
When it comes to the story itself, Jurgens starts with a strong character driven story that centers around one of our new Nightwings, Hutch. I am a very big fan of good character driven stories. Yes, I love seeing fights and explosions (which this issue has its share of), but I really want to know more about these characters and who they are under the mask.
The Nightwings have been around for a little bit now, but we still don’t really know much about any of them aside from what badges they wear in the daytime. It’s been hard to actually latch on and care about the characters. Even when Nightwing Edwards got shot by Scarecrow-controlled cops (at point blank range!) and he lived, my reaction was not, “THANK YOU!!!” It was (and still is), “WHY?!? There are so many more stories to tell if you let that one die!” That can’t be what they wanted me to feel, right?
Anyway, now it looks like we are diving into these characters more and finding out their “Why”. Since Hutch was introduced, we kept hearing that he should have been a cop, but something happened. Well Jurgens tells us what that something was (sort of), and we see how Hutch is still living in the aftermath of that.
To me, the opening sequence of this issue is the best part of the issue. Watching Ric and Hutch spar gives us more of a sense of who Hutch is, and what the Nightwings mean to him. This day is a very important day for Hutch. He should be a ball of guilt and anxiety (maybe I’m projecting a bit there). On top of that, his city is burning night after night (kind of a big deal for the deputy fire chief). Yet, here he is training a guy he really doesn’t know anything about. That says a lot. Even more so than him running into a burning building to save people. He’s a firefighter, we expect that. The sparring session said much more to me.
Ric has completely given up on having a “normal” life and has leaned into being a Nightwing. He won’t wear the costume, or call himself a Nightwing, but he is definitely a Nightwing. All I can say is, THANK YOU!!! It’s not just that it makes me feel like he is closer to being Dick Grayson again, but it’s also that Ric leaning into his need to do good without actually knowing why is a WAY more interesting story than him trying to have a normal life. To me, there is way more to explore with this kind of Ric. He only remembers the Flying Graysons. Batman isn’t in his head. Muscle memory is one thing, but how does that change the code he lives by when he puts on the domino mask (or grease in this case)? Does it change it at all? If not, why/how? Grayson was a young boy when his parents were murdered. He was raised by Bruce Wayne (or more accurately, Alfred). Who is he without all that he learned about being a hero? Like I said, way more to explore.
Nightwing #59 is a good start to a new Nightwing. It sets up the arc to come while giving us a glimpse at what Jurgens will bring to the title. It is a solid character driven story that finally connects us to one of the Nightwings, and gives the character more life. Ric is a Nightwing in all but name, and I’m excited by the possibilities that brings to his character. I am glad to see the Mooneyham and Filardi are sticking around, because their artwork brings an extra layer of excitement to this issue. I’m actually really annoyed that this is a monthly title because I don’t want to wait that long to see what happens in #60!