Nightwing continues to be one of the most consistent series DC is publishing since Rebirth started. Tim Seeley has carried the momentum he and Tom King created with the character over in Grayson to this new series. Now that Dick Grayson has found his own home of Bludhaven we have seen how Seeley has reinvented the city so it is not just a Gotham City-lite. The recent re-introduction of Blockbuster has added a much needed villainous element to Bludhaven as Nightwing has a major threat he must take down. In addition to Blockbuster’s re-introduction, Dick’s personal life has taken a major swing with the end of his relationship with Shawn Tsang. How will the break-up affect Dick’s life in and out of his Nightwing adventures moving forward? Let’s find out with Nightwing #26.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In his apartment Dick Grayson thinks about how death makes a person think about things they wouldn’t normally.
Dick flashes back to earlier that day when he attended Giz’s funeral with the rest of the Run-Offs. During the funeral Dick understands how everyone blames Nightwing, including his ex-girlfriend Shawn Tsang.
In the present, Dick hears some noise in his kitchen. Dick takes his Nightwing costume and grabs Huntress, who snuck into his apartment.
Huntress says she heard from Batgirl what happened to Dick and came to check up on him. Dick is quick to understand that she came to recruit him to look for Gianni Dracul, who Huntress has been hunting in connection to the mobsters who murdered her family.
Huntress wonders if Dick got that information from Tiger. Dick says that Tiger has been busy with Spyral business. Huntress mentions she hasn’t talked to anyone in Spyral recently either. She then tells Dick to put his Nightwing costume on to help her out.
Elsewhere in Bludhaven, Pigeon flies to the top of a rooftop to show her a statue being placed atop Marcus Casino. She says that she plans on relocating the statue to city hall with some modifications that Shawn can help her with. Shawn turns Pigeon’s offer down and says she can’t believe that is what Pigeon was looking from her after all they talked about.
The next day the Run-Offs are at Giz’s grave. Mouse tells her friends that she knows a good way of dealing with their loss.
In Palermo, Sicily, Nightwing reminds Huntress of his rule that she is not allowed to kill as they take out some thugs.
They then enter an underground club where people are watching a boxing match hosted by Signore Argento, a well-known fixer. The fighters stop their fight when they spot Nightwing and Huntress.
The two fighters fight Nightwing and Huntress. Nightwing and Huntress are able to knock out the two fighters. They then force Signore to hand over information he has on Gianni Dracul.
At the Beatrice Butler, Shawn visits the Pigeon at her home. Shawn says she is sick of following a system that continues to let her down. Shawn takes off her coat to reveal she is wearing her old costume and says she is ready to go back to being the Defacer.
Back in Palermo, Nightwing and Huntress head to the address that Signore provided them. When they arrive the luxury house they find Dracul dead in the casket he usually travels in.
While investigating the room Huntress finds a flash drive. She takes a look at what is inside the flash drive and finds a video Dracul recorded that reveals that he was a secret Spyral agent. In the video Dracul reveals that he is going crazy because of the Hypnos in his head.
Nightwing realizes that Spyral burned Dracul to cover their tracks on the superhero-killing weapons.
On top of a nearby building Tiger orders his Spyral agents to make Nightwing and Huntress bleed. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #26 does a great job where issue #25 left of with how Dick Grayson decides to move forward. Tim Seeley showed that he has a clear understanding of where he wants to go with Nightwing in and out of the mask. The same can’t be said for Shawn Tsang whose decision in this issue is a big eye rolling moment for the series.
Something that Seeley has done a fantastic job in doing is integrating past work from other creators into the DC Rebirth Nightwing series. In previous arcs we have seen how Seeley has brought in both the Court of Owls and Dr. Hurt back into Dick Grayson’s life, using the connection Scott Snyder and Grant Morrison, respectively, created with these characters. And like previous callbacks, Seeley now brings in his work with King in the Grayson series in a way that goes beyond just paying an homage to defining periods in Dick’s life.
With how things went for Dick’s personal life recently bringing in Huntress is the type of change of pace he was looking for. Seeley have Dick think about that while out with Huntress in her hunt for some gangsters she is after was a strong character moment. It highlighted an important part of the character as he knows that his role in life is to help others from being consumed by darkness.
Giving Dick that perspective while he is out as Nightwing alongside Huntress provided an interesting contrast. Because as much as he tries to help those around him Nightwing is at a point where he is struggling to define who he wants to be in and out of his costume. And while being on an adventure with Huntress is helping him get his mind off his break-up with Shawn, Seeley shows that it is not the resolution Dick needs.
With all that is going on in Nightwing’s life Huntress being brought in was perfect timing as she is a great foil for the former Boy Wonder. As King and Seeley showed when they were partners in Spyral, there is a distinct connection that Nightwing and Huntress share. There is a sense that both characters need each other as friends because they tap into the parts of one another that they don’t show other people.
Centering the team-up between Nightwing and Huntress around whatever operation Spyral is currently running is a good way to bring the organization back into the fold. The quick appearance by Tiger and his Spyral agents was a strong way to end Nightwing #26. Combined with the reveal that Dracul was secretly an agent of Spyral, this ending effectively reminded you that the organization aren’t good or bad guys.
Spyral is an organization out for their own best interest and now that Nightwing and Huntress aren’t members it looks like Tiger is returning Spyral to focus on that. With how both Nightwing and Huntress have changed since leaving Spyral behind to be superheroes it’ll be very interesting to see how Tiger has changed. From just the quick look we got at the end it doesn’t look like those changes are going to be good for Nightwing in particular.
While not given the same amount of spotlight, it was good to see how Giz’s death affected the entire aura around what was going on in Nightwing #26. Giz’s death clearly hangs over Nightwing’s head. That effect was even stronger for Mouse and the other Run-Offs. Seeley does a good job in not just making them step back into their old ways. Instead Seeley provides us with some vague dialogue that sets up some intrigue in where the Run-Offs will go after Giz’s death.
Javier Fernandez once again provides the series with the amount of consistency that readers have come to expect from Nightwing. Fernandez’s art style is especially at home with the secret agent world Seeley puts Dick back into in Nightwing #26. Fernandez, along with colorist Chris Sotomayor, do a good job provided a lot of color to the fun parts of being a spy.
At the same time, Fernandez and Sotomayor also deliver on the darker moments that give an uneasiness to what Nightwing and Huntress. That is best seen with the ending providing a stamp on how Nightwing and Huntress investigation is going to be getting tougher to deal with the closer they get to facing off against the Tiger-led Spyral.
The Bad: As good as it is, Nightwing #26 is not without its fault. The one big problem that keeps Nightwing #26 from being a perfect comic is the direction Shawn Tsang seems to be on. As much talk as Shawn has given about not going back to her old life it was a big groan inducing moment when we saw her back in her Defacer costume. This felt like a huge step back for the character that did not make me want to see where Shawn is going.
Unlike her Run-Off buddies, who are given a vague direction that adds interest to their direction, Shawn’s dialogue was eye rolling. Seeley quickly shifts Shawn from being a character that continues to preach that she is moving forward with a new life to joining Pigeon as the Defacer. That moment felt out of nowhere since we don’t get a big spotlight that made Shawn’s decision make a lot of sense.
And it is understandable that Shawn is given a huge spotlight since Nighwing is the main character and he is the one we are reading this series for. That said, giving Shawn’s choice to return to being the Defacer should’ve been given more time over the course of this arc. Little hints here and there as we get scenes of Shawn seeing how being the Defacer is much better than her current life would have done wonders for her final moment in Nightwing #26. Since we didn’t get that Shawn reappearing in her Defacer costume just fell flat.
Overall: Nightwing #26 does a great job bringing Spyral back into the fold. Tim Seeley is able to nail how much fun a team-up between Nightwing and Huntress is. The pair have a unique chemistry that Seeley and artist Javier Fernandez do a fantastic job tapping into with the super spy-centered story. That fun is dragged down a bit by the eye rolling direction Shawn Tsang’s character takes. It certainly put a damper on an otherwise strong issue of Nightwing.