Nightwing #15 Review

Nightwing ended its first arc in Bludhaven on a strong note as Dick Grayson established his life in a new city. Now with Dick establishing his personal and Nightwing life in Bludhaven it’s time to see what his day-to-day life is like. And what better way to see how Dick’s new life is like than through his growing relationship with Shawn Tsang. This is relationship that is open to be potentially a great new romance for Dick Grayson or just be another failure for the former Boy Wonder. Let’s find out with Nightwing #15.

Writer: Tim Seeley

Artist: 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: 68 days ago, Dick Grayson and Shawn Tsang are walking through Bludhaven after having their first date. Shawn is surprised by Dick’s choices for a first date which is interrupted by a sudden call Dick receives. Dick says he is going to ignore the call but Shawn says that isn’t a good idea. She kiss Dick and calls a taxi to call it a night.

As Dick is going inside his apartment he takes the call from Wally West, who wants to know how Dick’s date with Shawn went. While they talk Wally runs into Dick’s apartment from Central City.

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Dick tries to keep their discussion to Wally’s current mission but Wally wants to talk about how things are going with Shawn. Dick goes over how he asked Shawn out as Nightwing, partially to see if she did indeed figure out his secret identity. Wally asks Dick if he is going to see Shawn again, which Dick says he will.

62 days ago, Dick gets ready to go to work after spending the night with Shawn. Shawn tells Dick to tell the kids “Hi” for her as he is leaving.

Shawn talks to Randy (Stallion) on the phone to talk about what happened the previous night. Shawn mentions that Dick dropped by her place, leaving out the part that Nightwing was being chased by the cops and fighting an assassin. Randy mentions that Dick only knows how to be sweet and boring. He then asks how Dick looked out of his clothes. Shawn says he looked relieved.

41 days ago Nightwing talks to Red Hood about how things are going with Shawn. Nightwing says things are going great but mentions her anger issues such as her spilling a whole glass of wine on radio host who called Nightwing a menace the previous night. Red Hood says that it just means that Nightwing is giving Shawn something to fight for. They both then head off to stop some bad guys in Bludhaven.

Over at Shawn’s apartment Shawn talks to Mouse about how things are going with Dick and that she has gotten back into painting. Shawn does bring up the fact that the Dick mentioned that he was invited to a wedding taking place in July. Mouse wonders what’s wrong with that. Shawn says she never thinks that far into the future. Mouse says that it sounds like Shawn is making excuses. Shawn wonders if Mouse’s relationship has ever been predictable and boring, which Mouse says it never has.

17 days ago Nightwing and Starfire are fighting a group of villains together and discuss Dick’s relationship with Shawn, which Robin (Damian Wayne) told Starfire about. Nightwing mentions he did meet Shawn’s parents before coming out to team with Starfire. Starfire remembers when Nightwing met her family and insulted a X’Allic War Priest by turning down his gift.

Nightwing says he almost did the same thing when he mentioned loving Chinese food when Shawn’s dad said he cooked dinner. Shawn’s dad says its Italian food which makes things awkward for Dick. Shawn’s dad then reveals it was a joke and that he made pork dumplings.

Starfire says she is happy to hear things are going well.

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15 days ago Shawn’s dad is reluctant leave Shawn to back home to Milwaukee given what happened last time when he left her in Gotham and she ended up getting involved with the Pigeon. Shawn tells her dad he won’t lose her.

Flashing back to a day ago Shawn yells at Dick that she can’t be in a relationship with him as he keeps leaving her bedroom window open. Dick says he understands that it was irresponsible but that she is also mad that he will discover she is still Defacer and disappoint him. Dick says he knows Shawn isn’t that person anymore. Shawn runs up and hugs Dick and tells him not to leave her.

Back outside Shawn’s apartment Shawn tells her dad that she became the Defacer to rebel against everything, including her dad, after her mom died. Shawn goes on to say that she has learned from that experience and will not ever do that again because Dick has helped change her to be someone that builds rather than destroys things.

4 days ago Nightwing meets Batgirl on top of one of Gotham City’s bridge for the first time in a while. Nightwing hands Batgirl the information she needs to take down Councilman Abel, who was working with the Church of Blood. Batgirl thinks that is a lot of help for Nightwing to give her. He says it is partially an apology to Batgirl after the way he treated her during the whole Raptor conflict. Batgirl also apologizes for how harshly she acted towards Nightwing.

Nightwing tells Batgirl that she was right about him pushing himself too far. He reveals that after his parents died he wanted to stop what happened to them to happen to others. He goes on to say that he just went with the flow from there on, going where ever current events took him to. Nightwing ends by saying he has chosen a place and person to come back to. Batgirl understands that it’s not Gotham or her that he is talking about. Batgirl kisses Nightwing on the forehead and tells him not to break her heart.

The night before Dick has dinner with Bruce at Wayne Manor. Bruce mentions that the family misses Dick but he is happy to see Dick find a place that makes him happy. Bruce brings up Dick dating Shawn and her former profession. Dick says that Shawn does not do that anymore and is an artist now. He goes over how he does normal couple things with Shawn and how happy she makes him. Dick even says he loves her.

At the same time over at Shawn’s apartment Shawn is telling Pigeon the same thing about how she feels about Dick and how she has gotten back into art. She even mentions how Dick accepts her and her past as the Defacer, though she leaves out the part of him being Nightwing.

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As they continue talking someone comes up behind Shawn and kidnaps her. Pigeon hears the struggle and screams Shawn’s name through the phone. End of issue.

The Good: One of my few problems with the Bludhaven arc was how forced the romance between Dick and Shawn became. It just felt like another case that a new supporting character is forced into the romantic partner for a main character. That is exactly what Nightwing #15 fixes as Tim Seeley gets us to buy into Dick and Shawn’s relationship in a way that felt much more organic.

The best thing that Seeley did to make us understand why Dick and Shawn do make a really good pairing is the passage of time. Framing the entire issue as taking place during a 68 day time period allowed the relationship to grow from attraction to genuine love. It helps the jump in the time period never felt out of nowhere. Seeley management of how time passed felt natural to how things would progress in a normal relationship, even though there some abnormal things about how they came together.

Helping establish the progress that Dick and Shawn make in their relationship is how Seeley used Nightwing’s supporting cast, including the Batman and Titans Family. These individual interactions that Dick has with Bruce, Wally, Jason, Starfire and Barbara give us yet another opportunity to see where he stands with his family and friends. It was also a good change of pace for Dick to be able to interact with Wally outside Titans Tower and a reminder of how they are best friends. This isn’t something we see between heroes very often, especially hanging out without either of them wearing their costumes.

The fun of Dick’s interaction with Wally and Jason also help to balance out some of the awkwardness of his team-up with Batgirl and Starfire. Being his exes these already had a bit of an uncomfortable feeling to it going in. Seeley did good job in making both of their reactions to Dick’s love life different and in line with how you expect both characters to react. It showed us where he stands with Batgirl and Starfire without completely closing the door for fans who would want to see those relationships explored in the future.

Helping all of Dick’s scenes impact was the fact we also got to see Shawn’s side of this romance. Seeing her talk to her friends in the Run-Offs about how the relationship was progressing was a good way to develop Shawn outside of just her dates with Dick. It also helps the Run-Offs further develop their own characters as they will continue to act as the supporting cast for Nightwing. Now with what happened to Shawn it’ll be interesting to see how Seeley uses the Run-Offs in the next major story arc.

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All of the developments that Dick and Shawn’s relationship got in this issue made the final page have a greater impact. Now that we have this connection to this growing relationship we can only hope that something doesn’t happen to Shawn. This kidnapping does also bring into question if the character wearing the red costume version of Nightwing is involved. If it does then that could mean an even bigger connection between Nightwing and this imposter running around in Bludhaven.

While reading through Nightwing #15 I did not realize that Marcus To was not the artist until taking a look at the credits and seeing that the artist was Minkyu Jung. Jung does a very good job maintaining the look that To has brought to Nightwing while making things his own. He is able to get across how things are developing in Dick and Shawn’s relationship, as well as how all of their friends are reacting.

The Bad: Nothing

Overall: Nightwing #15 is an excellent standalone story that effectively makes us care for Dick Grayson and Shawn Tsang’s relationship. Tim Seeley is able to tell a complete story that makes the progression of the relationship come off as natural. Bringing in members of the Batman and Titans Families help further how strong Dick and Shawn’s relationship is becoming. This all helps make the future of Nightwing’s ongoing something you want to continue read, especially with how this issue ends.