Nightwing’s first trip back Bludhaven hasn’t been the easiest one for the former Boy Wonder. Rather than creating a new life for himself in Bludhaven he has had his past come roaring back to find him in ways he didn’t think were possible. After discovering that Jimmy Nice, the guy he was starting to call a friend, was the person behind the villain attacks and the Defacer has turned him into the police, Nightwing is not having the best time right now. The question is will Nightwing be able to overcome everything and finally find a place in Bludhaven that he can call home? Or is he destined to be a wandering hero? Let’s find out with Nightwing #14.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artit: Marcus To
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Near Bludhaven’s south neighborhood Detective Svoboda has small talk with Officer Reginald, who is monitoring the checkpoint in the area. Reginald ask what Svoboda is doing right now. Svoboda says she is just taking Shawn Tsang (The Defacer) in to be arraigned.
As Svoboda finishes up talking to Reginald she drives off. Underneath Svoboda police car Nightwing is holding on trying not to become roadkill.
Inside Svoboda’s police car Shawn talks to the detective about what she found out about Jimmy Nice’s “Quiet Reflection Project.” Shawn reveals that she followed the numbers from the project and found it suspicious that there were payments for an industrial wasteland called Tail Peninsula.
At a warehouse in Tail Peninsula, Cherry Annabel is still trying to recover from the portal Jimmy teleported them through. Cherry tells Jimmy that she did everything to help him find the corruption within the city. Jimmy agrees and says that Cherry is as guilty as everyone else he has been going after.
He replaces his Robin-esque mask with a princess mask and says he is going to turn her into the monster she has become. Before Jimmy can do anything to Cherry, she uses a drink, called “Winter Cherry,” she had in her possession and throws it at Jimmy’s face. She then uses this as a way to get away from Jimmy’s sight.
At the Tail’s End neighborhood, Nightwing and Defacer make their way through the city. While they run across all the rooftops Nightwing apologizes for driving Defacer out of Gotham City. Defacer admits that she did move to Bludhaven to start a new life but quickly realize that she wasn’t running away from Batman, Robin or Pigeon but herself.
Detective Svoboda gets Nightwing and Defacer’s attention. The two jump to Svoboda’s location and say that the area is clear. Nightwing wonders if Svoboda will be joining them inside. Svoboda reminds Nightwing that they need her to tell the public that they aren’t guilty so she’ll stay outside. She goes on to say that she will give the credit for the cops stopping Jimmy to the media while Nightwing’s friends (The Run-Offs) are freed from all their charges.
Nightwing and Defacer run inside the warehouse and talk to one another about how Jimmy got away from them right under their noses.
Cherry appears hurt out of the shadows and gets Nightwing’s attention. Cherry apologizes for the smell of her drink. Nightwing recognizes the liquid as the same one used to cover up security videos that could’ve helped Gorilla Grimm prove his innocence.
Nightwing starts questioning Cherry about what has been going on. Before he can get all the answers Jimmy comes out of a portal and attacks the trio.
Jimmy uses the special powers of his baton to overpower Nightwing and Defacer. As the fight goes on Jimmy thanks Nightwing for sending him the Run-Offs as he believes the guilty should be punished rather than be helped.
Nightwing is able to distract Jimmy long enough for Defacer to get Cherry out of the warehouse. Jimmy tackles Nightwing into one of his portals leading them to the outside.
After knocking Nightwing to the ground Jimmy reveals that Tail Peninsula is where the woman he loved died. He goes on to say that the way he escaped being guilty was by paying off the police officer on scene at the time. It’s because of this he wants to make sure all the people he deems guilty are punished.
Jimmy holds up a mirror to Nightwing’s face and asks what made him come to Bludhaven in the first place. Nightwing reveals that he trusted someone once (Raptor) which led to people dying. He goes on to say that while he questioned himself after those events the reflection he sees in the mirror is of a person who makes mistakes and tries to be better, just like the Run-Offs. He then asks Jimmy what he sees in his own reflection.
Detective Svoboda appears and reveals that the officer Jimmy paid off was her first case. Even though she put the officer away there was something she always had a hard time believing that the case was everything that her investigation revealed. Jimmy thanks Svoboda for being part of his first and latest murders.
As Jimmy turns around to blast her with an energy blast Svoboda fires her gun first and destroys the mirror Jimmy was holding. The shards of glass hit Jimmy, who freaks out over the pain and ends up falling off the bridge they are on.
Nightwing is able to catch Jimmy before he falls to the river below. Jimmy tells Nightwing that he couldn’t read him because Jimmy is a reflection of Nightwing.
Sometime later, the media arrives at the warehouse the events took place at. One of the reporters interviews Detective Svoboda, who says that while she was taking Shawn in she saw a man fleeing from city hall. Since then Svoboda knew they had to remind Bludhaven that the cops are an effective unit.
Nightwing watches Svoboda being interviewed from a distance. Nightwing is fine with Svoboda taking the credit and says he has something else he has to do in Bludhaven.
Sometime later, Dick Grayson holds his first meeting with all of the Run-Offs, including Gorilla Grimm. After finishing up the introductions Dick says that the first thing they need to do is change the group’s name.
After finishing up the meeting Dick heads into Shawn’s office, who is packing up her things as it is his office now.
As they walk out Dick tells Shawn that he will do what he can to get her back to work as soon as possible. Shawn says he doesn’t need to since it is not a good look for the community center to have a record of “suspect in a murder” on her resume.
They then see that the Nightwing billboard is being taken down after Cherry and the mayor were arrested for their crimes.
Dick reveals to Shawn that he is Nightwing and pulls her into a hug.
This all turns out to be in Dick’s head and he begins to walk away. Shawn pulls Dick into a kiss. She then reveals that she knows that Dick was the Robin who caught her when she worked with the Pigeon.
Later that night, Dick is getting ready to patrol the city. As he puts on his Nightwing costume he thinks about how he came to Bludhaven because he thought it was a simple city he could figure out who he is beyond the mask but he was wrong about the simple part.
As he heads out Nightwing thinks about how Bludhaven is filled with people trying to make the best of their lives alongside friends, new and old.
As Nightwing swings through the city a mysterious person wearing the red version of Nightwing’s costume watches him from afar. End of issue.
The Good: Everything that Tim Seeley has been building towards is finally clicking into place as Bludhaven and the characters living in it become fully realized. A big factor in the success of this issue is that as things conclude Seeley is able to get over how this is very much a Dick Grayson story, rather than Nightwing. In getting this point across Nightwing #14 is able to wrap things up while also setting up future stories to be told in Bludhaven.
What makes Nightwing #14 so successful is how Seeley is able to balance having every character he has introduced in this Bludhaven arc in one issue. It’s not until the last handful of pages that you realize how many characters Seeley has introduced over the course of these five issues. More impressively, each of the characters that Seeley establishes as living in Bludhaven have a unique enough voice that you want to see Dick Grayson interacting with them more in the future.
Having all the characters come off with their own unique voice helps the more predictable parts of the story maintain a level of interest. This particularly helps with Detective Svoboda quick turnaround to become an ally of Nightwing. As much as I would’ve like to see Nightwing and Detective Svoboda have a contentious relationship for at least a little while longer, it’ll be interesting to see how this partnership develops moving forward. With Bludhaven in a state where Gotham City was before Batman arrived, Detective Svoboda can very much play a Commissioner Gordon role for Nightwing, which is something he hasn’t had before.
Similarly, Shawn’s role in Nightwing defeating Jimmy Nice helped to establish her as a stronger character than issues that preceded this one. While Shawn is still set-up to act as another one of Dick Grayson’s love interest, it was good that Seeley established that it was Shawn who discovered what Jimmy was up to. This fact helps to make Shawn as the Defacer a worthy ally for Dick to call on when he needs help outside the Batman Family. In establishing Shawn’s detective skills it made her revealing that she knew that Dick is Nightwing and used to be Robin. It at least creates an interesting dynamic whenever Seeley circles back to having the two characters meeting one another again.
On the other side of things, it was good to see the spiral down into madness that Jimmy Nice went through in these last two issues. As predictable as his turn as the true antagonist of this story was Seeley was able to develop him into a good addition to Nightwing’s growing rogues gallery. With Jimmy still around after this story Seeley now has a Two-Face-like villain to use in future stories, where that could delve in further into his history.
Now as much character development everyone around him got Seeley made sure to drive home how this was still a story about Dick finally establishing some roots in a city. Things came full circle for Dick as he now has a job, while related to his life as Nightwing, is something that he can personally invest in outside his superhero adventures. And with each of the Run-Offs now accepting that there is a life beyond their villainous past there is a lot of potential for Dick to have friends that he can interact without his mask.
The ending with a person wearing Dick’s old red Nightwing costume was an interesting hook ending to conclude the Bludhaven arc with. There are plenty of options that Seeley can go with for this character reveal. Personally, I hope it is a revamped version of Nite-Wing, who with a few character adjustments can make a great long-term foil for Nightwing. Though I do hope this doesn’t mean we get another Nightwing murder suspect story as we have seen that story told a few times already in recent history.
Marcus To did a great job in elevating Seeley’s story with his artwork. In drawing the entire Bludhaven arc To was able to establish a great tone for the entire city, as he is able to get across the city’s differences and similarities to Gotham City. His character designs are also on point as he is able to draw a wide variety of characters. I particularly liked how he drew Jimmy’s face after the mirror broke on his face. There was a creepy Two-Face look to him that I hope the character maintains for whenever he reappears in the future.
The Bad: The one spot where Nightwing #14’s story falls short on is the resolution with Cherry Annabel and the mayor’s story. This was a part of the story that did feel rushed in its conclusion. There was a feeling of untapped potential when it came to exploring how Cherry using Nightwing’s image in the mayor’s campaign to make Bludhaven safe. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see the political side of Bludhaven explored because Seeley did have something that could’ve become a bigger story when it came to Cherry’s sub-plot.
Overall: Nightwing #14 successfully closes out the Bludhaven arc by fully establishing the life Dick Grayson will have in his new home. Tim Seeley was able to give a voice to the various characters he introduced into Dick Grayson’s life that makes Bludhaven feel like it is more than just another one of Nightwing’s stops. The ending with a mysterious red Nightwing showing up offers up a lot of potential for were Seeley can take the story next. If you are a Nightwing fan and haven’t given the series a try this Bludhaven arc is a good place to start with one of DC Comics best ongoing comic books.