Dick Grayson’s new life in Bludhaven has not been the easiest as he has tried to build a new life after being a superspy for a few years. That transition has been made more complicated by how he still can’t figure out how to maintain a stable romantic relationship. His latest break-up with not only former villain-turned social worker Shawn Tsang (Defacer) and ally Helena Bertinelli (Huntress). Things don’t look to be going up for Dick any time soon as Raptor has returned to ruin his life after their last confrontation. Now will Raptor be successful after going directly where Dick works secretly as a blackjack dealer for Blockbuster’s casino? Let’s find out with Nightwing #32.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Scot Eaton and Miguel Mendonca
Inker: Wayne Faucher and Diana Eger
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Raptor goes over how he remembers the night Dick Grayson’s parents died. He goes on to talk about how Dick allowed himself to be taken in by Bruce Wayne and become Robin.
Raptor proceeds to mock Dick for not being able to do anything to him at the moment or else he would reveal who he is to Roland Desmond (Blockbuster). He goes on to say that even if Dick tried to fight him there and now Raptor would make sure everyone in the casino got hurt in their fight.
At Pigeon’s place the Run-Offs tell Defacer that they are busting her out of her current situation with Pigeon. Defacer reveals that Pigeon is being used by a guy named Raptor to get at Nightwing and that she is in the same situation since Pigeon wanted her to work with her. Defacer tells her friends that they don’t need to get involved. Mouse says that they want to help for Giz, as he was working with Nightwing to save lives.
Back at the casino Dick turns some gamblers away so that he can continue to only have Raptor at his blackjack table. Dick then asks Raptor what happened to him to want to use other people as collateral damage. Raptor that Bludhaven has gone from being a city about the working class to a city run by the rich elite overnight. As he goes over Bludhaven’s recent history Raptor says that Dick decided to once again turn his back on his people to come to Bludhaven, including his mom.
Dick reminds Raptor that his mom (Marie Lloyd/Grayson) did all she could to help Raptor when they were younger as almost a guardian angel. It was because of her help that Raptor decided to be her guardian angel from the shadows even after she built a life and family.
Dick goes onto reveal that he was able to piece together flashes of his memory from back then with information he got from his friends from the circus to figure out who Raptor was and where he was when his parents died. Dick says he learned that Raptor actually saw Tony Zucco try to shake Mr. Haly down. But rather than stop Zucco’s men from tampering with the Flying Grayson’s equipment Raptor noticed Bruce Wayne was attending the event and turned his attention to steal from him. As Raptor went to steal Bruce’s watch from underneath the seats he saw the Flying Grayson’s die along with the rest of the horrified crowd.
Dick says all Raptor is now doing is trying to find a way to blame anyone but himself for what happened which is why he hates Bruce and anyone he labels as an elite. Raptor laughs and congratulates Dick on his detective work. He then says that Bludhaven will now show him who it really is.
Suddenly people in the casino start turning into versions of Blockbuster.
At Whale’s End the Defacer leads the Run-Offs to where Pigeon had set-up her lab. When they enter the lab they are surprised to see how well it has been maintained. Inside they find Orca who says that the Whale’s End tried to use the tech to make more versions of himself but they are all in jail or in a coma.
Defacer convinces Orca to stick around with them by talking about how Orca was looking for his own place with the Whale’s Enders which is why he worked for them. Defacer and Mouse then tell Orca about how they need to stop Pigeon and Raptor.
At the Bludhaven Boardwalk the police are keeping everyone away from the area. The Run-Offs go around the cops and spot Pigeon helping Raptor make his escape from the casino.
Inside the casino Dick finds a hiding spot to change into Nightwing while various people in Blockbuster-like forms go on a rampage. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #32 is more or less a standstill issue that doesn’t move the needle to much. Instead this issue spends it’s entire page count recounting where Nightwing, Raptor and the Run-Offs are at this point. It isn’t until the final few pages involving Nightwing and Raptor that there was some forward progress made. Unfortunately by the time we reach that point the ending does not have that strong hook to make you want to come back for more.
The big thing that Nightwing #32 got right is that Tim Seeley does not try to make Dick Grayson out to be surprised by any action Raptor takes. Throughout this issue we see how even when Raptor thinks he is in control Dick was already prepared for what was to come. That sense of control is something Seeley has done a good job in showing off throughout his run on this series. It something that we continue to see come into play that shows us how the older and more experienced Dick has become as superhero the more he is becoming like Bruce.
That detective work that Dick revealed he did also did a good job in forcing Raptor’s hand. It further highlighted how Dick knew when Raptor returned he would underestimate him. That is best shown through Raptor’s initial rant about how Dick moved on from the death of his parents. Throughout that rant Raptor thought he had the advantage mentally. Instead Raptor played right into Dick’s own game as we see our hero turn things on it’s head by revealing how Raptor was the one who failed to save his parents when he had the chance to.
Scot Eaton and Miguel Mendonca did a solid job delivering artwork that enhanced the best parts of Nightwing #32. The facial reactions of Nightwing and Raptor were all well drawn and helped create further tension in their psychological battle. Though not having any sort of action to draw did keep the issue from having a standout scene where the artwork shined.
The Bad: As great as it was to see how Nightwing completely owned Raptor in this psychological clash it did not help the villain at all. As a character Raptor is supposed to be someone that can match Batman and Nightwing in his preparation. Now that aura of danger has been completely taken away as Raptor became more of a normal villain.
That sense of normality was made clear with how Raptor’s entire plot resulted in nothing more than transforming a group of people into mindless Blockbuster-like monsters. That was an extremely unimpressive plot development that made this story feel just another superhero comic. It’s a move that actually shows Raptor is admitting that he can’t take Nightwing out himself. This goes against Raptor’s words about how if they fought there would be significant losses of life. In turn this shows how once Nightwing deals with all the Blockbusters there won’t be much of a problem with taking Raptor out.
And given the fact that Raptor’s plot does involve turning everyone around Nightwing into Blockbuster-like monsters it was odd that Roland Desmond play zero role in this issue. This lack of screen time for the original Blockbuster makes him look like nothing more than a background character. It’s a position that the character should not be in given how he has been positioned alongside Raptor in previous issues. Even a short page showing Roland approaching Raptor and Dick during their blackjack game would’ve helped remind readers that he has his own role to play in this arc.
The story in Nightwing #32 is further hurt by the Run-Offs sub-plot. As much time as Seeley has spent developing this group of characters it is hard not to see the Run-Offs as not being in the way of everything going on. So far they have caused more problems than solutions. Even when they try to help they’ve mostly gotten in the way of Nightwing’s actions.
It doesn’t help that they don’t actually figure out anything about what Raptor and Pigeon are up to. Even with the characters discovering Pigeon’s newly renovated lab they never spent the time to figure out how to help Nightwing out. Instead they just rush to the boardwalk without knowing what is going on. With Raptor’s plot being revealed to involve having people transform into new versions of Blockbuster it would been a major development for the Run-Offs if they were shown to discover a way to help Nightwing overcome this threat.
This is all a big shame because when the Run-Offs were introduced there was so much potential in what they could’ve been. That loss of potential is the most disappointing for Shawn Tsang’s character. She just seems to be in a state where she is running around in circles. There isn’t much to her character redemption at this point since we haven’t really gotten into what makes her relationship with Pigeon unique. And Pigeon’s own lack of character development only further hurts where Seeley is trying to take Shawn’s arc.
Overall: Nightwing #32 is nothing more than a filler issue to get us to the next stage of the “Raptor’s Revenge” arc. Tim Seeley does a great job continuing to develop what makes Nightwing such a great character. Unfortunately that is overshadowed by the lack of character development to make Raptor, Run-Offs and everyone else involved intriguing parts in this story arc.