After a very poor start to the Ric Grayson saga Dan Jurgens has finally found a groove with this direction for Nightwing. That is all thanks to finally revealing the fact that Dick Grayson’s transformation into Ric Grayson was all thanks to the Court of Owls ongoing plot to make the character their modern day Talon. This use of established continuity has improved Nightwing’s Ric Grayson saga immensely. The story is still not perfect as there are several roadblocks that keep on getting in the way of fully buying into Ric Grayson. Hopefully now that we have this clear connection with the Court of Owls things can continue to improve in Nightwing’s current storyline. Let’s see if that is the case with Nightwing #69.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside a house in Gotham City someone watches a report on the four Nightwings who have appeared in Bludhaven. The person questions the report as a joke.
Over in Zurich, Switzerland, Ric Grayson searches for Dr. Haas to get answers about what is going on with the two sets of memories he has that deviate from one another when his parents died. Ric infiltrates a castle and quickly takes out the guards before they can alert their back-up.
23 hours earlier Ric and Bea are able to break into Dr. Haas’ office in Gotham City to try to find answers to what is going on with his life. As they do that Ric reassures Bea that he wants to keep their relationship going but wants to find out what his true memories are.
When they get into the office they find that Dr. Haas is nowhere to be found. Ric thinks this means Dr. Haas has gone back to Switzerland.
Ric suddenly starts getting another headache. Bea finds a copy of “The Very Friendly Owl” that calms Ric down. Ric remembers the book as part of one of his last happy memories before his parents died. Ric freaks out as he wants to see Dr. Haas.
Bea does some more digging and finds a Court of Owls mask in Dr. Haas’ desk. Ric realizes the controller that Talon mentioned was Dr. Haas.
In the present, Ric continues to make his way inside the castle, knocking guards out on his way, until he finds a secret underground entrance.
As he enters the underground passage Ric runs into Dr. Haas with two Talons by her side. Ric demands to know what she did to him. Dr. Haas says she brought Ric back to his family to live out his destiny as the true Gray Son of Gotham and become the best of the Talons.
Ric says he does not believe in destiny and starts fighting the two Talons with Dr. Haas. After a prolonged fight Ric is able to defeat the two Talons.
Ric then demands to know how Dr. Haas orchestrated all of this. Dr. Haas reveals that the Court of Owls used the KGBeast shooting Nightwing in the head as a way to provide treatment through drugs and psychological grooming to make Ric theirs. Ric orders Dr. Haas to fix him. Dr. Haas is happy to reinforce which memories are Ric’s true memories.
Dr. Haas then takes out what is known as the Identity Crystal, which she previously used to write Ric Grayson’s history. She then uses it again to make Ric trust her and remember all the memories she implanted before.
One of the guards Ric knocked out earlier believes Ric is resisting and sets off the self-destruct sequence.
As the countdown to the bomb starts Dr. Haas is just about to complete Ric Grayson’s memory rewrite again. Before it finishes the self-destruct sequence countdown ends and the entire castle begins to blow up.
The explosion sends Ric and Dr. Haas into the nearby river. Ric tries to save Dr. Haas but the current is too strong for both of them.
After drifting down the river for some time Ric is able to grab onto some rocks. Ric holds the Identity Crystal in his hand. Having no idea where Dr. Haas is Ric thinks how the only feelings he has at the moment is a strong desire to go back to Bea.
Back in Gotham City the report about the four Nightwings continues with the reporters doubting any of them are the real Nightwing. The person watching states that none of them are the real Nightwing. After smashing the TV it is shown that Joker was the one watching and commenting on the four Nightwings report. End of issue.
The Good: There are many things that go on in Nightwing #69 that signals both the series and main character are returning to form. Even when things get rough from a story perspective the Ric Grayson saga has never been more interesting than it is in this issue. That is a big step up from where we were before with this storyline.
Nightwing #69 is the first time during this Ric Grayson saga that we’ve seen the character with an actual sense of determination. For far too long Dan Jurgens has been trying to push the narrative of Ric Grayson being a blank slate. The problem with going with that direction was Jurgens at no point made an argument for this being a positive. It isn’t until Nightwing #69 we actually see a motivated Ric Grayson in action. While there are elements of Dick Grayson’s character this still reads like Ric.
Having a focused and determined Ric Grayson made for an issue that moved at a brisk pace. Even with all the flashback dialogue Jurgens made sure to keep the focus on Ric’s search for Dr. Haas and the Court of Owls. It made for a better flow between the present and flashback scenes. Even when all the flashback dialogue got to be a lot it did not impede seeing Ric Grayson in action in Switzerland.
Things really picked up when Ric finally met up with Dr. Haas again. Jurgens nails how Dr. Haas revels in being a villain as part of the Court of Owls. Dr. Haas is someone that only cares about her goals as a member of the Court of Owls. To her Ric Grayson is just a tool that the Court of Owls need to create the ultimate Talon. Viewing Ric Grayson in this way made the way she tried to show care for him have an even more sinister tone.
Incorporating more mystical elements with the Identity Crystal works within the context of the Court of Owls being an organization that has existed for centuries. We’ve already seen how they have reanimated corpses acting as Talons. Having mystical items like the Identity Crystal is to be expected given how they’ve used various methods to further their plans. Using it as a major part of the creation of Ric Grayson makes them come across as an even more dangerous organization.
Nightwing #69 does a better job making the dialogue between Ric and Bea be more natural. There is a comfort level in the way they interact while breaking into Dr. Haas’ office. It helps that Bea is treated more as an equal in this mission rather than just there to give a love interest something to do.
What will be interesting to see is if there will be more to Ric’s desire at the end of the issue to be with Bea. Jurgens made it a point to emphasize that this was the only thing in Ric’s mind. That being because of how close Ric and Bea have become or something connected to the Court of Owls plot we likely should be watching out for.
The integration of Joker in the Ric Grayson saga was well handled in Nightwing #69. Jurgens does enough work to make Joker’s appearance in this issue come across as being about Ric/Dick Grayson. There is obviously a tie to the upcoming Joker War but that wasn’t the reason why Joker is showing up. Playing into the history between Dick Grayson’s past with Joker can enhance the current story going on with Ric Grayson.
The artwork by Ronan Cliquet got the job done in Nightwing #69. The action as Ric Grayson made his way through the Switzerland castle and later fought the Talons was all smooth. Cliquet also gave a cult-like look to when Dr. Haas was using the Identity Crystal on Ric to get him back on the Court of Owls side.
The Bad: While Nightwing #69 notable improvement over the majority of this Ric Grayson saga Jurgens still gets in the story’s way by relying too much on dialogue that took place in the past to tell the story. Even before you get to the actual break-in scene with Ric and Bea you feel as though you got the full story. There is no sense of discovery to what Ric is doing in Switzerland. We get the full details before that happens.
In going with this direction to explain why Ric Grayson is in Switzerland Jurgens loses the voice of this issue. Ric comes across as someone who does not know when to shut up and not in the same banter-style way Dick Grayson was. This is once again the biggest weakness in Jurgens attempt to get Ric Grayson over as a character. We’ve gotten way too many issues with Ric talking to himself about who he is that it has gotten extremely tiring to see this once again.
If Jurgens is going to have this Ric Grayson story last any longer than Jurgens needs to cut back on this type of storytelling for the character. That is a hard thing to see being fixed this late in the game as it has become Jurgens go to approach for the direction of this ongoing storyline. Maybe with the Joker story it will give Jurgens the opportunity to switch of this approach, at least I hope it does. Because if he doesn’t then Jurgens will continue to get in the way of the Ric Grayson, the relationship with Bea and all the other plot threads from truly catching on.
Also, while the Joker’s appearance was a welcome sight it did end up becoming a double edge sword for Nightwing #69. Everything Joker said during the news report just reminded the reader how the four Nightwings have never gotten over as nothing more than fakes. While they all have their best intentions in mind the four Nightwings are just not on the level you expect from Dick Grayson.
Even together we’ve seen them make one wrong move after another only to be bailed out by Ric Grayson in the end. Both Joker and the news reporters pointing out all the problems with the four Nightwings only acted as a reminder of their poor development. And the fault for the four Nightwings poor development all goes back to the writing during this Ric Grayson saga for each character.
Overall: Nightwing #69 is another step in the right direction for the ongoing Ric Grayson saga. For the first time we see a Ric Grayson who shows actual motivation in what he is doing rather than going through the motions. How that ties into the Court of Owls role in this story made for a better comic book. There are still problems that continue to persist in this Ric Grayson saga but at least we are now starting to see some light in the darkness that previously covered Nightwing as of late.
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