Marv Wolfman’s debut on Nightwing was happily received by The Revolution. Wolfman writes a much better Dick Grayson than Bruce Jones did. I thought last issue was solid, but not as great as I was hoping. I find this current story arc to be a bit generic. Hopefully, Wolfman can get me more excited in this story arc with Nightwing #126. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Nightwing on a stakeout on a rainy night outside the house of Dr. Slater who was in charge of the Lexcorp weapons scientists who were killed last issue. Nightwing is on his phone headset talking with Alfred. We get some witty banter and Nightwing decides to leave since it is clear no one is showing up tonight.
We cut to the Raptor who is running from some mystery person. Raptor’s armor is damaged and his power is down to 10%. We some mystery hitman wearing a suit and sitting in a big limo. The hitman is talking to a client on the phone and informs the client that the raptor will be dead soon.
We shift to Nightwing meeting with J.J., who is a shut-in. J.J. designs Nightwing’s gadgets and has just finished a brand new and improved wrist cable gun. Nightwing then checks in on Dr. Slater who he has hidden at J.J.’s hideout. Unfortunately for Nightwing, Dr. Slater claims that he thought the entire Lexcorp project he was working on was legal and has no idea why someone would be after them.
Nightwing then swings back to the Biotech Pharmaceuticals lab from last issue. However, the room is completely cleaned out. Nightwing is puzzled how everything was managed to be “sanitized” so quickly.
Nightwing decides to give himself a break from this mystery and clear his head by going to Bones Gym and getting a massage from Ryan. Dick enters the gym and sees a kid practicing gymnastics. Dick stops and shows off his mad skills on the trapeze and gives the kid some pointers. Ryan sees this and his stunned by Dick’s aforementioned mad skills. Dick tells her he used to be in the circus. Dick then realizes he is late for a meeting and tells Ryan that he has to run. Dick leaves and some guy named Jesse asks Ryan who the guy was showing off on the trapeze. Ryan tells Jesse it was Dick Grayson.
We shift to J.J.’s hideout. Suddenly, the mysterious hitman armed with a really deceptively destructive laser pen appears and kills Dr. Slater. J.J. runs out of his hideout into the street. J.J. calls Nightwing on his cell phone and tells him he is in trouble. We see the hitman back in his limo watching J.J. run down the street. The hitman lets J.J. live since he wasn’t paid to kill him and this hitman doesn’t do freebies.
We cut to J.J. meeting with Nightwing. J.J. tells him that Dr. Slater was killed.
We then shift to the Raptor on the run with the mysterious hitman right behind him. The hitman whips out his unusually deadly laser pen and fried the Raptor to death. We then see Nightwing arrive on the scene and find the Raptor’s crispy fried body.
We cut to Dick doing some online research. He discovers that the Raptor was a guy named Jace Lorens. We shift to Jace’s funeral. Nightwing drops out from one of the trees and talks with Jace’s widow. Mrs. Lorens tells Nightwing that when Biotech Pharmaceuticals went bankrupt it became known that they were owned by Lexcorp. Jace knew that Lexcorp was crooked and decided that it was ok to steal from thieves like Lexcorp. Jace planned to steal something he was working on and sell it for a lot of money.
We then see the hitman in his limo watching Nightwing talk with the grieving Mrs. Loren. A client called the hitman and hires him to kill Nightwing. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #126 was an average read. It certainly isn’t as patently unreadable as Bruce Jones’ run on this title; however it certainly isn’t what I was hoping for when Wolfman took over control of this title. This issue was well paced. I like that Wolfman is unfolding this story quickly.
I think that Wolfman’s dialogue is solid. The best dialogue was in the beginning when Dick was on the phone with Alfred. That was great. I am glad to see Dick keeping in touch with members of the Bat Family. I think that DC has made a mistake by taking Dick out of the Bat Family. Dick is a core member of the Bat Family and needs to keep his ties with Bruce, Alfred and Tim. This opening scene was by far my favorite of this issue.
Wolfman certainly has a much better feel for Dick’s character than Bruce Jones ever did. I like that Dick has a bit of an edge to him. I think that Jones wrote Dick as too much of a choirboy. I also dig that Wolfman is re-enforcing the fact that Dick may be one of the greatest acrobats on the planet. There are plenty of bad-ass hand to hand fighters in the DCU. And Dick is clearly overshadowed in that department by his mentor, Batman, who is the undisputed king of all hand to hand combat fighters. However, Dick blows away even Batman in terms of being an unbelievable athlete. The fact that Dick is possibly the greatest acrobat is what separates him from the other members of the Bat Family and I think has been totally forgotten for a long time. Wolfman is wisely brining back this aspect of Nightwing to help forge his own identity.
I have a feeling that Jesse from the Bones Gym will turn out to be interested in hiring Dick as a gymnastics instructor. This solves the lingering issue that Dick is unemployed and it will put him in the same place of employment as Ryan enabling them to have more panel time together.
The Bad: I thought that this issue had a poor flow. Wolfman seemed to jerk back and forth from scene to scene with abrupt and clumsy transitions. Also, this story arc is reading like a generic filler storyline. I truly have zero interest in the Raptor, the project at Biotech Pharmaceuticals, or Lexcorp’s role in this mystery. It is all so terribly standard and unappealing to me.
In addition, this hitman that is introduced in this issue is rather one-dimensional. I feel that I have seen this character so many different times before in numerous other titles. He is just your stock hitman. I’ll admit that the use of an unusually powerful laser pen as a weapon is different. However, this character failed to engage my interest.
Even the mystery of who the hitman’s client isn’t all that captivating. Unless Wolfman really manages to pull off a huge swerve with the identity of the client, I don’t think that I’m going to be all that impressed.
I have said it numerous times before, but it bears repeating. New York is simply the wrong location for Nightwing. Gotham is where Nightwing belongs. Placing Nightwing back in Gotham also solves another weakness of this title: a lack of compelling supporting characters. If Nightwing returns to Gotham, then Wolfman can pull from all the various character with ties to the Bat Family to use as supporting characters. This title desperately needs appealing supporting characters and Ryan just isn’t getting the job done.
And what about the entire Monitors storyline? We get teased a little in the last issue and then get nothing at all in this issue. I hope that Wolfman can quickly wrap up this generic Raptor storyline and move on to exploring the issue with the Monitors.
Overall: Nightwing #126 was a rather pedestrian read. It was still much better than anything that Bruce Jones cranked out. However, that really isn’t saying much. I still have hope that Wolfman can turn around this title. And to be fair, it takes more than two issues to turn around a title that was in such a massive state of disarray as Nightwing.