After a few one-shot stories with different creative teams Benjamin Percy is taking over Nightwing. Percy is someone I’m excited to see take over Nightwing. His run on Green Arrow was great. He did a lot of great things in developing who Green Arrow is in the current DC Universe climate. With Nightwing, I expect that Percy will be able to do equally great work since the characters have similar characteristics. And with Nightwing now fully established with Bludhaven has his “new” home Percy has the chance to further develop the city to be a living and breathing location like Gotham City and Metropolis. Let’s see how Percy kicks off his run with Nightwing #44.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Chris Mooneyham
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While walking to the subway Dick Grayson tries to figure out how he can balance out being a normal person with his life as Nightwing. Before he gets on the subway he notices someone staring at their phone with an odd green screen and skull on it. Right when the subway takes off Dick notices that the guy’s phone explodes.
On the subway the engineers get the same message on their phone and it explodes as well. This causes the subway to go out of control and the lights inside to go out.
Dick quickly changes into his Nightwing costume since no one will see him in the dark. Nightwing then proceeds to use one of escrima sticks to knock everyone on the subway’s phone out of their hand. Nightwing then grabs all the passengers and swings them to safety right as all the phones explode.
The next day Barbara Gordon questions Dick on why he still has a landline and having so many old school tendencies.
They then transition to talking about the exploding phones. Barbara has already analyzed one of the broken phones and says that whoever did it used detonation malware on everyone’s phone to cause the explosion,
Dick asks Barbara not to tell Batman about this since Bludhaven is his city. Barbara agrees but reminds him that she is available to help him since technology isn’t Dick’s strong suit.
A little later Dick is training at the Bludhaven Salvage yard to meet his new client, Willem Cloke. When asking Willem why he requested private training Willem, who has turned himself into a cyborg, says he doesn’t want to be weak anymore. Dick agrees to help Willem get stronger.
Later that night Dick goes to his local deli and talks to the shop owner, Stott, while waiting for his sandwich. While they talk Dick notices Stott is wearing a special watch. Stott says it is actually a controller for a device called Phantasm, which creates an augmented reality to make the store look clean and produce look fresh. Dick questions what the devices purposes are.
Before they get into a large argument Dick hears police speeding by. Dick says he has to take off and leaves his sandwich for Stott to eat.
While changing into his Nightwing gear Dick reflects on how Bruce makes his change into Batman look.
At the aftermath of a hostage scene Nightwing meets up with Detective Svoboda who says the dead guy was supposably holding his girlfriend hostage and the police were forced to shot and kill him. Svoboda mentions that there are some question things around the call which seemed scrambled.
Nightwing takes a look at the dead guy and notices he is wearing the controller Stott was. Nightwing finds the Phantasm device and takes it as he finds it suspicious that someone called them about the hostage situation when the curtains were closed.
At his apartment, Dick works on the Phantasm device to figure out everything it does. He then puts on the controller which does some facial recognition on him when he turns it on. Dick uses it to transform his apartment into a virtual part of the Wayne Mansion and a virtual Alfred.
The malware from the subway suddenly takes over the controller. The controller then cuts and enters Dick through his chest. Dick’s eyes start to glow green as he loses control of his body. End of issue.
The Good: Benjamin Percy kicks off his run on Nightwing with an issue that sets the tone for everything we should expect from his run. Nightwing #44 gives you a clear idea of where Dick Grayson is at this point in his personal and superhero life. The attention to detail in establishing who Nightwing is made the Bludhaven a city that felt more like a living and breathing city that has many surprises for both our lead character and reader.
Kicking off Nightwing #44 with Dick Grayson thinking about who exactly he is in and out his Nightwing costume was a great tone setter. Over the last few years Dick has been constantly on the move that even when he gets a chance to catch his breath he is immediately pulled away for something else. Seeing Dick actual think about who he is and how he is different from his mentor paints him as someone that is still trying to figure things out.
Dick being positioned in this way made his interactions with fitness client, Willem Cloke, and deli owner, Stott, more personal than what his relationship with previous supporting cast members he has met in Bludhaven. Both characters in their short appearances give Dick different types of people to interact with. With Willem we see someone that Dick can take under his wing and possibly do what Bruce once did for him. He has already been successful in this instance when he mentored Damian for a short time. How Dick’s mentorship with Willem evolves, especially given Willem’s cyborg enhancements, will be interesting to see.
Percy establishing an instant relationship with Stott was a good move. This was a nice, subtle way to show that Dick has been in Bludhaven for at least a while as he already has built in relationships with those in his neighborhood. Having someone like Stott around gives this series a good supporting character that can pop in every once in a while without having to necessarily be important to the narrative to the story. This adds to how different Nightwing’s working relationship with Detective Svoboda is contentious at times. Bringing in more characters like this will help make Bludhaven a city that will feel like a living, breathing place where things are going on even if Nightwing isn’t involved.
Having this first story involve the latest tech trend is a good way to present a different type of challenge for Nightwing. Up until now Nightwing has gone up against other great fighters or mysterious he can just use his detective skills. While challenging these storylines in Bludhaven have been right in Nightwing’s wheelhouse. Having this mysterious virus going around using a smartwatch-like device opens up the opportunity for Nightwing to have to approach things from a different angle.
It also gave us a good opportunity to see more of the relationship between Dick and Barbara Gordon. These two have great chemistry with one another and it’s great to see Percy use this pairing. The dialogue flowed naturally to show how much trust they have with each other. Their banter gave Nightwing #44 comedy that felt natural. Having Barbara help Dick out with this latest case also is a reminder of the connections Nightwing has with the rest of the Batman Family.
Chris Mooneyham art style is a good fit for the grounded tone Percy is looking to develop with his run on Nightwing. Mooneyham nails how Bludhaven feels like a dirty city that possibly has crime going on in any street corner. This helped further emphasize how Nightwing in this series will be much more like a street-level hero compared to his adventures over on Titans and other titles. His artwork was particularly strong during the Nightwing segments of the issue.
The Bad: While Mooneyham is a good fit for this series his art won’t work for everyone. His style isn’t what one would think of being from a comic in the DC Universe. It is much more street-level artwork. And while it doesn’t get in the way of the dialogue Mooneyham has some inconsistencies with how he draws characters faces to have dead eyed expressions at times.
Overall: Nightwing #44 is a strong start to Benjamin Percy’s run on Nightwing. Percy showed a strong understanding of who Dick Grayson and Nightwing are. The story around some corrupted technology opened the door for Dick Grayson to have different types of interactions with his quickly established supporting cast. The various relationships Dick Grayson has along with Chris Mooneyham artwork made Bludhaven a city you want to see Nightwing have more adventures in. If your a Batman fan then I recommend checking out Percy’s Nightwing as it’ll look just as memorable as his recent run on Green Arrow.