Nightwing has been one of the most consistent comic books DC Comics has been publishing since Rebirth began. The latest “Nightwing Must Die” brings back a lot of nostalgia to Dick Grayson’s time as Batman. In fact there have been several callbacks to Grant Morrison’s run during that period, especially with Damian Wayne’s involvement in this story. Now with it being clear that Professor Pyg is behind the abduction of Dick’s girlfriend, Shawn Tsang, there is an even greater connection to Nightwing’s past as Batman. Is there more to this latest adventure than meets the eye? Let’s find out with Nightwing #18.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez and Minkyu Jung
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Paris’ Metamorphoses Fine Art Gallery, Professor Pyg gives a speech to his crowd about creation of art leading to a path of pain and torment, while having Shawn tied to an easel. Professor Pyg then talks about creation of life leading to mutation.
Before he can continue his speech Nightwing and Robin bust into the art gallery. The pair quickly proceed to take down all of Pyg’s Dollotrons while also protecting Shawn.
Three hours earlier, Nightwing notices that Deathwing’s blade is not normal. Robin is more bothered by the fact that Nightwing’s Dollotron clone is calling himself Deathwing while his Dollotron clone just goes by Robin. Robin suggest they kill the two Dollotrons. Nightwing says they won’t do that, especially after “Robintron” told them where Pyg was hiding Shawn.
While dragging a tied up Deathwing to the Batmobile, Robin doesn’t think that Robintron would give away that information and they can’t let concern for Shawn be a liability. Nightwing reminds Robin that Shawn may be pregnant and he isn’t willing to lose both to an old enemy of theirs.
Robintron stops Nightwing and Robin. Robintron goes on about what he believes is his history as Damian Wayne and why he became Robin was for his father Bruce Wayne and brother Dick Grayson. Nightwing and Robin are left silent upon hearing this. Robin then tells Robintron to get in the Batmobile.
In the present, Nightwing and Robin continue to more than hold their own against Professor Pyg’s army of Dollotrons. Professor Pyg becomes frustrated by this fact and goes to kill Shawn. Robin acts quickly by cutting the ropes that tied Shawn up with one of his batarangs.
Outside the art gallery Deathwing calls Robintron a traitor and talks about what the “Dominotron” acid is really doing to their faces. Robintron wonders if that means Deathwing knows who they really are. Deathwing says he knows Robintron has had to live the life of Damian Wayne, son of Batman. Robintron states he still remembers his life as the son of a Manchester truck driver and his schooling before Professor Pyg experimented on him.
Deathwing states he remembers nothing but failure. Robintron says that is what Professor Pyg wants them to believe but he fought back against that programming and so can Deathwing. Deathwing seems to remember his past and ask Robintron to untie him, even calling him “Dinesh.”
At the same time, inside the art gallery Nightwing, Robin and Shawn continue fighting Professor Pyg and his Dollotrons. Nightwing is able to start fighting Professor Pyg one-on-one. As they fight Nightwing asks why Professor Pyg kidnapped Shawn. Professor Pyg states that he wasn’t after Shawn for her artwork but something else.
Nightwing realizes why the gallery is getting hotter and hotter is because the old foundry is running and melting the lead the statues are made of. Nightwing rushes over to Robin and saves him from a statue that was going to collapse on him, which ends up injuring Nightwing.
Outside the gallery, Robintron has untied Deathwing. Deathwing tells Robintron that his real purpose is not to make Dick Grayson better but himself better. He then starts choking out Robintron.
Back inside the gallery, Nightwing is now a sitting duck for Professor Pyg to kill. Before Professor Pyg can kill Nightwing, Shawn uses a spray paint bottle to blind Pyg and kick him below the belt.
Shawn goes to Nightwing to check up on him. Nightwing apologizes for not being there for Shawn. Shawn reveals she thought Deathwing was Nightwing when she opened her window so it was her fault.
As they hug Robin notices a the Batmobile is taking off and believes it’s Robintron. He doesn’t get to the rooftop in time and the Batmobile leaves the area.
Before he can give further chase Deathwing gets Robin’s attention and reveals he just put the Batmobile on auto-pilot to trick Nightwing and Robin. Robin notices Robintron’s doll face on the ground and becomes pissed about Deathwing killing Robintron. Before Robin can connect with a punch on Deathwing he is knocked down by a mysterious person which he recognizes when looking at the person.
Nightwing and Shawn exit the gallery with Professor Pyg to look for Robin. Nightwing finds Robintron’s body in a nearby dumpster. Nightwing orders Professor Pyg to tell him what happened to Robin. Professor Pyg states that he was working for someone else that was a physician, Doctor Simon Hurt.
At that same time Dr. Hurt is walking away with Deathwing carrying Robin right behind him. End of issue.
The Good: Rowdy Roddy Piper once said “Just when you think you have all the answers, I Change The Questions!” That is exactly what I thought of as Nightwing #18 came to a close as Tim Seeley brings in Doctor Hurt to be the secret person working behind the scenes in this arc. In doing so Seeley brings up many questions as to what is really going on in not just this arc but also the rest of the Batman Universe.
Throughout Nightwing #18 Seeley is able to capture how crazy of a villain Professor Pyg is. Everything he says shows us how many screws the character has loose as nothing makes absolute sense. That craziness makes him an even more dangerous villain, especially compared to what Dick Grayson has faced since returning to the Nightwing role. The fight between Nightwing and Pyg goes a long way in showing how the latter would be a great addition to this series’ rogues gallery since Batman is busy with his more established villains.
I was completely caught off guard by the big reveal of Doctor Simon Hurt being behind the events of this arc. This is a perfect callback to Nightwing’s time as Batman as Dr. Hurt was the one behind the plot of the “Batman and Robin Must Die” arc during that period. Seeing how this arc shares a similar name, “Nightwing Must Die,” it shows how much planning Seeley did to execute such a surprise appearance. Dr. Hurt’s appearance creates a lot of questions when it comes to the Batman Universe’s continuity along with why he has chosen now to show up in Nightwing’s life.
As cool as it was to see Dr. Hurt and Professor Pyg back, the best part of Nightwing #18 continued to be the partnership of Nightwing and Robin. Dick and Damian are perfect foils for one another even though they aren’t the ongoing Dynamic Duo anymore. Both characters have a quick wit with a different type of sense of humor that helps balance each other out during big battle sequences.
The dynamic between Dick and Damian also helps to highlight the priorities they each have during this arc. While Dick does want to stop Professor Pyg, his main priority is to ensure the safety of Shawn and his possible baby. Seeing Dick try to make Damian understand that shows where each one is mentally during the fight they are in. It also highlights how differently they approach things as Dick showed greater trust in Robintron’s honesty than Damian did. That helped to make Dick discovering Robintron’s dead body even more impactful since he had that trust in that character.
On the other side, Seeley showed off what makes Damian such an enjoyable character. His no-nonsense personality, when done right, can help elevate a story which it did here as he showed a great distrust towards Robintron. That distrust did well in making his reaction to Deathwing killing the kid much more effective. It also made for great fun with how he complained about Robintron not having an original name like Deathwing did.
Speaking of which, Seeley also did a good job developing Robintron into a sympathetic character during the course of this issue. There was a real sadness for everything that has happened to Robintron. It helped to highlight how despicable of a villain this version of Deathwing is as he completely tricked the kid into setting him free. That act alone makes Deathwing a villain that you want to see get his competence.
The artwork throughout Nightwing #18 was crisp. Javier Fernandez and Minkyu Jung did a very good job complimenting one another so that it wasn’t obvious who was handling which page. They both did a good job capturing Professor Pyg’s insanity and the devilishness of Deathwing and Dr. Hurt. At the same time they were able to do some light hearted stuff with the dynamic that Nightwing and Robin shared with one another throughout the story.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Nightwing #18 delivered a well-paced story with some new developments that create greater interest for future issues in this series. Tim Seeley once again showed what makes the dynamic between Nightwing and Robin special. At the same time, Seeley is able to up the impact of the story by having a big reveal in the final page that’ll get Batman fans excited for what comes next.