Comic Book Review: Nightwing #131

Nightwing is one of the most frustrating titles. Dick Grayson is a great character and DC simply shows over and over that they just don’t know what to do with this character. It has been a very long time since this title was a good read.

Initially, I was happy when I heard that Marv Wolfman was taking over the writing duties for this title. I figured Wolfman could clean up this train wreck of a title. Well, I’m still waiting. I have found this “Bride and Groom” story arc to be incredibly dull. I don’t expect Nightwing #131 to change my opinion on this title. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene all the way back to 1689. A Native American man has shacked up with a black woman and she is giving birth to their baby girl. The new mother says that he child is going to be very special.

We zip forward to 1692 where a bunch of naked women are dancing around an open fire. The white male settlers call them witches. The black woman from the earlier scene shows up with her baby girl. She says to not punish the dancing naked women. The woman says she is the witch and no one else is to blame.

We then race back to the present where Nightwing arrives at a bar where criminals like to hang out. Nightwing busts into the joint and starts kicking ass. Nightwing thinks how Bruce always taught him not to make any case personal. But, Nightwing can’t help himself. That the Lorens were his friends and that Nightwing is going to make their killers pay dearly.

After Nightwing finishes kicking ass, the criminals swear they know nothing about the killers. Nightwing tells them that he will return at midnight. That the first one to come forward with information on the killers gets one free pass from Nightwing.

Nightwing leaves and the criminals all talk about how they have never seen Nightwing so violent and angry. A shadowy figure mentions that he has seen Nightwing that mad once before back when they were younger. The shadowy figure says that Nightwing is good but that he has always been better than Nightwing.

We then cut to Nightwing beating the crap out of some ninjas on a building rooftop. Then we see Nightwing beating the hell out of some bikers. In each scene Nightwing asks for information on the killers.

We shift to the bride and groom at a public library accessing the internet. The groom, Thomas, wants to avoid conflict with Nightwing. The bride, Violet, says they can’t be married together until she kills Nightwing.

We cut to Dick at the gym pounding away on a heavy bag. Dennis West, the big ex-marine that Nightwing ran into at the hospice an issue ago, is also there working out. Dennis comments that Dick is hitting that bag like it did something bad to him. Dennis says that he wouldn’t want to be the people that Dick is mad at judging by how much damage Dick has done to the heavy bag.

Dick introduces himself to Dennis and tells him that he is the new gymnastics instructor. Dennis comments how Dick is perfectly trained. Dennis says he is an ex-marine, but after watching so many buddies getting blown up it just took the mad out of Dennis. Dick then says he has to go. Dick walks off thinking how Dennis is wrong. That Dick has seen so many people killed lately. And it doesn’t stop him from wanting to seriously hurt the killers.

We shift to Violet and Thomas arriving at the bar where the criminals hang out from earlier in this issue. They ask the bartender if Nightwing has been here. The bartender tells them that Nightwing is due back at the bar by midnight.

We then see Nightwing on his motorcycle racing toward the bar. Nightwing busts through the bar’s window and begins brawling with Thomas. Thomas tries to cut Nightwing with a knife. Nightwing blocks the knife back into Thomas it is slices Thomas’ neck.

Violet hold Thomas and begins crying. She says how she needs Thomas. That she can’t live without him. Violet then stares angrily at Nightwing and tells him that he can go to hell. Violet then shoots flames all around Nightwing. End of issue.

The Good: Nightwing #131 was nothing more than a rather average read. The best thing that Wolfman has done on this title is write a much stronger Dick Grayson then we have gotten in a long time. Wolfman has a good feel for Dick’s character and is doing a nice job re-defining who Dick Grayson is and what makes him tick.

I am enjoying how Wolfman is handling Dick’s personality. I like that Dick isn’t as cold as Batman. Dick isn’t able to handle every case with the requisite icy detachment that the world’s greatest detective employs in order to rationally analyze a mystery from all possible angles.

Dick is a much more emotional creature. Just like when he was Robin, Dick has always been chatty in a fight and lives to fire out one-liners. Because Dick is more open with his emotions and openly displays his happiness unlike Batman, it makes sense that Dick would also openly display his anger unlike Batman.

I dig seeing the anger and intensity from Dick that he displays while kicking some serious ass all through out this issue. Nightwing has plenty of attitude and aggression and it works well with his character.

Wolfman’s dialogue is well done. I like the external voice Wolfman has given Dick. And Wolfman’s great feel for Dick’s personality really shows through in Dick’s running inner monologue that we get through out this issue.

Wolfman gives us tons of action in Nightwing #131. We get brawls galore and that keeps this issue from being an uninteresting read.

Wolfman teased the readers with the scene involving a mysterious figure who has a history with Nightwing. I have absolutely no idea who in the world this could be. But, I am definitely interested in this plotline and am curious to see where Wolfman goes with this.

Igle provides solid artwork to this issue. Igle’s art isn’t anything incredible, but it is better than average and certainly some of the best art that we have had on Nightwing in a long time.

The Bad: I just can’t get into this current story arc. Thomas and Violet are boring and generic villains. Absolutely nothing about them even remotely interests me. This entire story arc reads like nothing more than pure filler.

Actually, ever since Wolfman came to Nightwing, it feels like he has been treading water and wasting time. Wolfman came to Nightwing and immediately hinted at the Monitor plotline and then quickly dropped it. Now, Wolfman is handcuffed in that he can’t explore the Monitor plotline until 52 has concluded. So, it definitely feels like Wolfman is just wasting time with the Raptor story arc and now this Bride and Groom story arc until 52 has concluded.

The Raptor story arc was average at best and this current Bride and Groom story arc is even less interesting. There is nothing about this story arc that I find compelling at all. Also, Nightwing’s relationship with Lorens family seemed forced. Wolfman clearly introduced the Lorens family just to have them killed off in order to create the emotional springboard for and angry and violent Dick Grayson in this current story arc.

I’m also not really interested in Dick as a gymnastic instructor. That entire plotline is boring. Dick never keeps a job for too long so I wouldn’t be surprised that this job is also short lived.

Another weakness of this title is a lack of numerous plotlines and sub-plotlines. The magic to successful titles like JSA, JLA, Green Lantern and Ultimate Spider-Man is that the writers manage to spin several compelling plotlines and sub-plotlines at the same time and grow each major plotline into an entertaining story arc.

We haven’t gotten that on Nightwing. We have the Bride and Groom plotline and then the mysterious person that made an appearance in this issue. That’s it. This makes Nightwing a bit of a shallow read that lacks long term vision.

Like I said before, hopefully the end of 52 will allow Wolfman the freedom necessary to delve deeply into the Monitor plotline. After Infinite Crisis, DC claimed that they wanted to make Nightwing a central character in the DCU. So far, I haven’t seen anything even remotely resembling that.

Overall: Nightwing #131 was an uninspired read. This is a generic and dull story arc that has failed to capture my attention. I still wouldn’t recommend buying Nightwing. I would suggest waiting until 52 has concluded and then pick up this title when Wolfman is able to fully explore the Monitor plotline.

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