“Raptor’s Revenge” is the final story arc for Tim Seeley on Nightwing. Seeley’s run on Nightwing has been been one of the most consistent comics in the DC Rebirth Era. Unfortunately that consistency has been derailed a bit by this final story arc. While “Raptor’s Revenge” is a culmination of Seeley’s run on Nightwing it has not lived up to its potential thus far. Outside of Dick Grayson all of the characters involved in this final arc have not been well served from a character development standpoint. Now that said with Raptor’s plot reaching its end point can Seeley end his run on a high note? Let’s find out with Nightwing #34.
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As Raptor and Pigeon admire the chaos they have created in Bludhaven both Nightwing and Roland Desmond make their way to the casino rooftop the two villains are in.
On the streets the Run-Offs deal with the people transforming into Blockbuster-esque behemoths by spraying them with the cure, including Tiger Shark.
Back on the Marcus Casino rooftop Raptor reminisces the time he spent with Mary Grayson, before she was married, and how she gave him his current name.
Pigeon reminds Raptor she did all this for him. Before their conversation can get anywhere Roland attacks Pigeon from behind. While Roland fights Pigeon we see Nightwing fight Raptor, who does is done trying to “teach” Nightwing.
The Run-Offs finish curing everyone on the streets. Defacer gets the last bit of the cure and decides to go help Nightwing out.
Up on the casino rooftop Raptor and Nightwing go back and forth in their fight. Raptor mocks Nightwing and says that in the end he will kill Nightwing no matter what he has to do.
As Raptor gets the upper hand in the fight he calls Nightwing a person who will die as a disgraced child and lost son of Mary.
On another part of the roof Roland gets the best of Pigeon. Pigeon recovers from being thrown and sprays Roland with the double-dose of the chemical she and Raptor used to turn everyone into monsters.
Defacer shows up out of nowhere and smashes Pigeon with part of a monument.
Raptor gets distracted by this, allowing Nightwing to get him from behind but Raptor quickly breaks free.
Elsewhere the Run-Offs work quickly to put the cure into Bludhaven’s water system in order to stop Raptor and Pigeon’s chemical from infecting anyone else.
Back on the roof Defacer checks up on Nightwing but is quickly swatted away by Raptor.
Nightwing gets pissed and knocks Raptor back. Nightwing then calls out Raptor for failing to see to see how Bludhaven is a city of redemption and that he should start living up to the promise he made to his mom by protecting people.
Before Raptor can answer Blockbuster attacks Nightwing and Raptor but they easily dodge. When Raptor goes to power up his body suddenly breaks down and begins twisting in knots.
Blockbuster transforms back into Roland, who goes to shake Nightwing’s hand for completing their deal. When Nightwing shakes Roland’s hand he injects Roland with the cure to keep him from turning into Blockbuster.
Nightwing approaches Raptor who says he hated that he couldn’t protect Mary and Dick and reveals that his real name is Richard. Raptor then passes out.
Defacer hugs Nightwing, who says he missed her. Before they can get anywhere the police arrive.
The police escort everyone out of the casino. In the middle of everything Detective Svoboda takes credit for capturing Tiger Shark.
A few weeks later Dick reflects on his time in Bludhaven and how the light of the moon calls to him.
Nightwing meets up with Svoboda, who has now become a Police Captain. Captain Svoboda recruits Nightwing to help her bring in Mr. Nice, who has reappeared.
Nightwing says that is no problem and gathers the Run-Offs to help him take down Mr. Nice. End of issue.
The Good: There were so many new, interesting characters and elements that Seeley introduced during the course of his run that were squandered because of the need to wrap things up as neatly as possible. By rushing to that conclusion many character arcs ended up falling flat. That led Nightwing #34 to be an even greater disappointment for a run that before “Raptor’s Revenge” was turning into the best the character has ever had.
The one part that this ending of “Raptor’s Revenge” gets right is that Nightwing does embrace the city of Bludhaven. Believing Bludhaven as his new home has been a big part of Seeley’s run. With Nightwing #34 we finally get to see how Dick Grayson has now come to see it as a place that he can settle down in. In having that feeling Seeley is able to make Nightwing’s struggle to save Bludhaven feel real. It at least sets things up for Sam Humphries to take that part of Nightwing’s character and explore Bludhaven even deeper to have its own character, similar to Gotham City.
Javier Fernandez’s artwork in Nightwing #34 was solid throughout the issue. He brought out the personality of each character involved and gave life to the story. That is especially the case for the action, while not as amazing as other action sequences in this series, did get across how this was an emotional battle for Nightwing and Raptor.
The Bad: From start to finish “Raptor’s Revenge” felt rushed and Nightwing #34 proved that rushing to the finish was the worst thing for all parties involved. Not only did this turn an extremely fascinating character, Raptor, introduced by Seeley into Nightwing’s mythology into a dud but he also hurt the long-term arcs of the Run-Offs, Pigeon and Blockbuster. In an effort to wrap all his storylines before exiting Nightwing Seeley just made things worse for everyone not named Nightwing.
The one that probably got it worst amongst them is Blockbuster. After spending some time rebuilding the rivalry between Nightwing and Blockbuster there was absolutely no sense of satisfaction in how things end between the two. Given that we were still in the early stages of Nightwing and Blockbuster’s war for Bludhaven’s soul there was absolutely no emotional weight to the two teaming up. There was no inherit hatred between the two that took their rivalry past the normal superhero vs. villain battle.
It especially hurts the set-up of Nightwing trying to infiltrate Blockbuster’s operation as Dick Grayson, blackjack dealer. That had so much potential to add an intriguing element to Nightwing vs. Blockbuster of the two getting to know each other as Dick Grayson and Roland Desmond. Even if they ended up disliking the other even more with what they learn of each other it would have added weight to the two forcing to team up against Raptor. But by not giving the reader that time to build a friendship or acquaintances there was very little weight to Nightwing and Blockbuster’s team-up.
This all makes Blockbuster look weak in the eyes of readers unfamiliar with the rivalry he had with Nightwing back in the old DC Universe. Rather than being a villain that can have a whole story based around him Blockbuster was made to look like a total chump in “Raptor’s Revenge.” In Nightwing #34 alone we see Blockbuster get bested by Pigeon, a low-level villain, and easily tricked by Nightwing so he can never transform into his monster form again. That all makes Blockbuster looks like nothing more than secondary villain that can’t carry his own story.
Similarly, Raptor, who was introduced as a threat that could match Batman and Nightwing in a fight, turned out to be equally as weak by the end of Nightwing #34. Seeley leaned to hard on the emotional part of Raptor that he made it hard to remember how the character can be a cold hearted killer at the drop of a hat. That cold blooded killer is nowhere to be found in Nightwing #34. Instead Raptor is just ruled by his emotions and it made his fighting style during his fight with Nightwing look off.
Raptor’s emotional state is made even worse by the fact there is zero chemistry between him and Pigeon. The romantic angle of Raptor and Pigeon’s relationship is just another example of how rushed this entire story arc was. There was zero attempt to make it seem that there was a deeper connection to the two beyond Raptor using Pigeon to get his revenge on Nightwing. That lack of connection made Raptor’s reaction to Defacer crushing Pigeon feel hollow since as a reader we aren’t given much to care about their relationship.
That all does not help the character arc Seeley has been working on Pigeon in the background of his run. As a new character Pigeon failed to connect as a refreshing villain to Nightwing’s rogue gallery. There was nothing special about her since we saw how quickly Pigeon’s relationship with Shawn Tsang dissolved and then turned into Raptor’s love sick sidekick. Pigeon’s arc all ended in an appropriately disappointing manner as she was crushed by Defacer and then quickly forgotten. Being that type of afterthought at the close of Nightwing #34 makes her involvement throughout Seeley’s run even more questionable now.
As bad as Blockbuster, Raptor and Pigeon’s character arcs were the one that gets it the worst is Shawn Tsang, the Defacer. After being built up to be an equal who can be part Dick Grayson’s life in and out of his Nightwing adventures Seeley turned her into a schizophrenic. There was never a point that Shawn’s arc after breaking up with Dick that felt rewarding. Instead we are left scratching our heads with how Shawn was treated as someone who will teeter from loving to hating Dick Grayson depending on the story’s needs. That back and forth with Shawn’s character made her saving and then hugging Nightwing ring hollow since we never get a resolution to the state of their relationship.
All of these failed characters arcs make the ending come off even more light hearted than intended. With all the serious ramifications of this arc it was disappointing to see that Seeley went with a typical heroic end of Nightwing and the Run-Offs running together to arrest Mr. Nice. This page space would’ve been better reserved for more of a resolution on Nightwing’s standing with the entire Run-Offs group. Even having a page or two where Nightwing speaks to each member would’ve given some weight to the ending. Instead all we get is an ending that is a reflection of the rushed storytelling in “Raptor’s Revenge”
Overall: Nightwing #34 is a clear example why rushing to wrap up every sub-plot is a bad idea when there hasn’t been enough time dedicated to each storyline. After having such a strong run leading into “Raptor’s Revenge” it is extremely disappointing that Tim Seeley wrapped up his time on Nightwing with a story that lacked an emotional impact. By the end of Nightwing #34 the only character that came out well enough was our lead character, Dick Grayson. Everyone else, from Raptor to Shawn Tsang, could easily end up disappearing like the New 52 Superman and they wouldn’t be missed.