The first and only Nightwing story arc that Sam Humphries wrote ended up being a major disappointment. The arc involving new villain, The Judge, started off with a ton of potential but quickly went downhill as the story execution constantly hit a wall. Now that Humphries is done with his story we are going to get a couple of one-shot issues in Nightwing, with Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s story up first. I am not familiar with either writer’s work outside their short time on the Grayson ongoing but am intrigued by the fact that their one-shot will involved Damian Wayne’s Robin. Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne have a great chemistry as brothers so there is a lot of potential for how their latest team-up will turn out. Let’s see how things go with Nightwing #42.
Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Mat Lopes
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Nightwing (wearing a suit over his costume) enters a bar where the Crimson Kabuki are in order to locate his brother (Damian Wayne), who has been kidnapped.
The Crimson Kabuki waste no time in trying to kill Nightwing. Nightwing is able knock all of the Crimson Kabuki at the bar out. Using one of the Crimson Kabuki’s mask Nightwing finds a hidden staircase.
When Nightwing makes it to the next floor he is confronted by a member of the Crimson Kabuki who towers over him. The Crimson Kabuki member uses a large drum to blast Nightwing across the room, destroying Nightwing’s suit in the process. Nightwing is able to use his escrima sticks to turn the drum against the Crimson Kabuki member and defeat him.
Nightwing then goes up another flight of stairs. When he reaches the top he is confronted by a Crimson Kabuki member who dances with fans. The dancer starts fighting Nightwing. After fighting for a while Nightwing gets used to the dancer’s rhythm and is able to knock them out.
On the next floor Nightwing is confronted by a Crimson Kabuki member wielding a number of different weapons. The weapon wielder uses all of their weapons against Nightwing. Nightwing is able to use his speed to dodge all the attacks and break each weapon. The weapon wielder ends up surrendering.
Nightwing finally reaches the roof where the Crimson Kabuki’s leader has Robin chained up. While a dragon flies around them Nightwing and the Crimson Kabuki leader have a sword fight.
During the sword fight Robin is able to break free from his confinement. Robin then jumps on the dragon and reveals it is on their side. With the Crimson Kabuki’s leader stunned by this revelation Nightwing knocks him out.
In the Batcave all the events are revealed to be a story that Robin was telling Batman, Nightwing and his pets. End of issue.
The Good: After the story with the Judge that was just completed Nightwing #42 was a great change of pace. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly delivered a story that no one really would expect from this series. It is in that surprise that Nightwing #42 ends up being something that is made to just enjoy without thinking hard about long-term development.
Lanzing and Kelly using the classic Bruce Lee movie “Game of Death” as the inspiration for their Nightwing story was a great surprise. This instantly placed Nightwing in a completely different setting that takes him out of his normal comfort zone of Gotham City and Bludhaven. In doing so Lanzing and Kelly are able to have fun with showing off Nightwing’s skills as one of the DC Universe’s best hand-to-hand fighters.
What made each fight Nightwing got into is the different opponents that Lanzing and Kelly had him go up against warriors with different skills and designs. The variation in warriors gave each of the elite Crimson Kabuki members a look that stood out even though they were wearing the same mask. The personality added to each warrior made the different fighting methods Nightwing had to employ to stand out even more. It all led nicely to the final fight that turned into a sword fight between Nightwing and the Crimson Kabuki leader.
Adding to how fun Nightwing’s mission to rescue Robin was the fact it all turned out to be a story that Damian Wayne was telling Batman and Nightwing. That made the reason we had all the narration stand out even more as we got to see how Damian tells stories to others. That reveal actually makes re-reading Nightwing #42 even more fun as you then put Damian’s voice to the narration. Making that storytelling device even better was the smile Batman and Nightwing had while Robin was telling the story looked like a dad and brother having fun with the youngest of the family.
Jorge Corona added to the fun of this one-shot story with his artwork style that is different from what we have seen from this series before. The artwork won’t be for everyone but it fit the tone of Lanzing and Kelly’s story. Corona did a good job getting across the fast paced action Nightwing got involved in. And it was a very nice touch to have Nightwing start off with a full suit that overtime was destroyed to reveal he was wearing his costume underneath the suit.
The Bad: Nightwing #42 does not add anything to the ongoing story of Dick Grayson becoming part of Bludhaven. This is a complete side story that can be skipped and readers won’t miss out on anything. So for readers looking for a comic that adds to a larger story Nightwing #42 is not it and that may disappoint those readers.
The narration, while enjoyable, did start overwhelming certain pages as we got a wall of text at certain points. That was something that was balanced out by a few silent pages during fights. But unfortunately when Robin’s narration did dominate the page it distracted from what was going on in the action in Corona’s artwork.
Overall: Nightwing #42 is a solid one-shot story that is inconsequential to the overall narrative of the series. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly delivered a surprising story that placed Nightwing in a setting out of a Bruce Lee movie. That setting gave Lanzing and Kelly the opportunity to show of how badass of a fighter Nightwing was. It also gave them the opportunity to integrate Damian Wayne in a surprisingly enjoyable way.