The direction DC Comics decided to take with Dick Grayson abandoning the Nightwing identity and becoming Ric Grayson was not at all what I was hoping for after he got shot in the head during Tom King’s Batman run. The direction quickly went off the rails from exploring the ramifications of someone getting shot in the head to showing Ric Grayson being an asshole who turned his back on everyone. Even with the reasons for this happening Ric Grayson has never got over as a strong replacement for Dick Grayson. That was the case until the most recent Nightwing Annual with Dan Jurgens finally giving an explanation for the birth of Ric Grayson. Tying all that in to the Court of Owls jumping on Dick Grayson getting shot in the head as an opportunity to finally turn them into their ultimate Talon after so many previous attempts instantly made this Ric Grayson direction better. Now what will happen with the tease of Dick Grayson possibly returning? Let’s find out with Nightwing #68.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Travis Moore and Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Memories of Dick Grayson life as Robin, Nightwing, being a member of the Teen Titans, becoming Batman, proposing to Barbara Gordon (when she was Oracle) and taking on all of Gotham City’s villains flood back into Ric Grayson’s head.
All these memories confuse Ric Grayson and he asks Condor Red what is going on. Condor Red says Ric tried to kill him. This makes Ric even more confused about what is going on as all his memories are clashing in his head.
Ric then spots William Cobb as Talon nearby.
William Cobb realizes that Ric is getting his memories back and messages the Court of Owls that Ric is remembering who he is. Dr. Isabella Haas tells Cobb to not let Ric shatter the barrier they’ve created between the real and implanted memories.
At that time Ric takes off all the Talon gear he was wearing and takes two random sticks to get ready to fight Cobb. Ric and Cobb charge at each other while still on top of the bridge with Ric yelling about how he is not the killer his grandfather and the Court of Owls wanted to make him to be.
While they fight Cobb states he will turn Ric into the person he should have become if it wasn’t for Bruce Wayne’s influence. Ric is still not sure what Cobb is talking about and just keeps fighting his grandfather.
Near the bridge Bea Bennett shows up with Malcolm Hutch (the guy wearing the red logo Nightwing costume). Bea tells Malcolm that they need to help Ric because he is not a killer but the guy he is (Cobb) is.
Back up on the bridge Ric is able to dodge fatal strikes from Cobb. As they fight Cobb tells Ric the difference between them is that he has no inhibitions. Ric fires back by saying while Cobb calls what he has inhibitions he likes to think of them as having decency. Ric is then able to disarm Cobb of the kunais he was using.
On another part of the bridge Condor Red contacts his organization to state that Ric is not the threat instead it is Cobb.
Back at the fight Ric is able to use his sticks to break Cobb’s sword. Then after dodging a knife strike both Ric and Cobb lose their balance and fall off the bridge.
Before Ric falls into the water Malcolm is able to grab Ric’s arm and bring him back up on the bridge. Bea shows up and immediately hugs Ric out of relief he is safe.
Ric then apologizes for turning on Malcolm and the other Nightwings. He explains what happened to him when he was turned into a Talon and apologizes again. Ric then jumps on top of a bus with Bea and says he’ll talk with the other Nightwings later.
Later, Ric and Bea are on a rooftop. Bea is worried that with Ric remembering he is Dick Grayson that their relationship will end. Ric reassures her that even with all the memories he has clashing in his head their relationship is not over.
Bea then wonders if she should call him Ric, Richard or Dick Grayson. Ric says he’ll figure things out starting tomorrow but for tonight he just wants to spend the night with her. They then kiss. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #68 has all the elements that should make it a strong continuation for this whole Ric Grayson direction. But while the elements are there the execution of all the story beats slips up far to often to make the story stable enough to enjoy.
One place where this whole Ric Grayson arc has improved immensely is the Court of Owls involvement in this transformation of Dick Grayson. Since showing us the full scope of their plans to make Dick Grayson their ultimate Talon by manipulating to become Ric Grayson the entire arc got the interest needed. That is thanks to how Dan Jurgens is able to use how dangerous the Court of Owls are because of their ability to work from the shadows.
We see that again here as Dr. Isabella Haas informs William Cobb that the implanted memories for Ric Grayson have not broken yet. This small exchange further shows how far they went into making sure that Dick Grayson can’t simply return by having his true memories come back to him. Even with his real memories racing through his head the way the Court of Owls implanted false memories in his head made it so Ric Grayson would still be dominant persona.
This all at least gives reason for why we will still have Ric around for a bit longer. There is now a journey for this Ric Grayson arc to take in the next few issues. The question of how Ric is able to clear up things with all the memories that are clashing will make when he finally returns to being Dick Grayson a bigger moment.
It’ll also be interesting to see where Bea Bennett ends up in all of this. Her connection to Ric Grayson and how she got so involved in the whole Court of Owls business comes off as too suspicious. Especially with how Dr. Haas and the Court of Owls have mentioned that they have things in place to keep Ric Grayson around it would not be surprising if Bea is connected to that. But that may also be just me looking to much into what kind of arc Bea could take.
Travis Moore and Ronan Cliquet artwork throughout Nightwing #68 was solid. There opening splash pages showing Dick Grayson’s history as Robin, Nightwing and Batman was by far the most standout thing about the artwork. The rest of the issue was simply consistent artwork that kept the story moving.
The Bad: For as intriguing as the Court of Owls role in Dick Grayson becoming Ric Grayson has been since it was revealed it has not helped all the problems with this arc. Nightwing #68 was another example of how problematic the entire Ric Grayson arc is. The character himself is just not as interesting as he should be. There are various points when Ric Grayson says something and it comes across as forced hero dialogue. There is fakeness to the character’s dialogue that doesn’t seem to be intentional.
And while it was great to see all of Dick Grayson’s history shown to us as the memories flooded back into Ric Grayson the way it was handled was disappointing. If this type of memory dump was always the intention for this Ric Grayson arc having it all be triggered by a brand new character in the form of Condor Red was highly disappointing. There is absolutely no connection to Condor Red, Dick Grayson or the Batman Family. The guy is just some random character that was introduced in Nightwing #67.
If Jurgens wanted to truly make this moment of all of Dick Grayson’s memories coming back to him important it should’ve been thanks to a Batman Family member’s involvement. The set-up for a Batman Family member such as Damian Wayne or Barbara Gordon serving that role was there with the Court of Owls. This is an organization that has been shown to be extremely dangerous enemies the Batman Family have all dealt with. It would have been easy to get Batman Family member involved.
This would have also made the fight between Ric Grayson and William Cobb have a greater sense of importance. As it stood it was just a random battle on top of the bridge that showed once again that Ric Grayson has no problem fighting. The only thing keeping the character back from his previous form is how he is fighting against being Dick Grayson.
The fight also made William Cobb look like an ameteur. There is no reason for William Cobb, after all his previous impressive performances, to struggle this much against Ric Grayson, who was still unuse about himself. Having Cobb’s sword break when clashing with random wood sticks that Ric found was the final nail in how poorly Cobb looked during that fight. That was just a confusing thing to see happen that almost made you wonder if the Talons all use weapons made out of glass for one of Cobb’s swords to break so easily.
This was also not a great showing for the Nightwings. While the characters have shown to be skilled emergency response people they have yet to have a good showing as superheroes. Malcolm Hutch telling Bea to call him “Nightwing” was just one of those moments were as a reader you think of how he and the others have not earned that identity at all. The faster Jurgens ends this whole Nightwing Corps story the better it will be better for everyone. Maybe then he can actually work to develop Malcolm and others as an emergency response squad supporting who are Dick Grayson’s Bludhaven allies when he returns to being the one and only Nightwing.
While there is some interest around what Bea Bennett’s role will be when Dick Grayson returns Jurgens does the character no favors by making her look like she can’t live without Ric Grayson. The character almost doesn’t seem like the same independent Bea we originally met when this whole Ric Grayson story started. It would’ve made Bea look much better if we saw her be more supportive to Ric’s current struggle with his memories instead of worrying that their relationship is now over. By positioning Bea in this way Jurgens sets her up to be just another short-term relationship that Dick Grayson gets in.
Overall: Ever since the Court of Owls entered the picture Dan Jurgens started to gain real momentum around this Ric Grayson arc. That momentum all comes to a dead stop with Nightwing #68. The way things end with Ric Grayson’s fighting off becoming a Talon and then clashing with William Cobb was not rewarding at all. The only feeling you are left with after Nightwing #68 is the hope that the character will return to being Dick Grayson right away.
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