Nightwing is a series that has been on its way up in terms of quality. That is saying a lot with how far down the series went with the direction it took since Dick Grayson became Ric Grayson. While we still have Ric Grayson as the main character we are on the trajectory of Dick Grayson returning as the one and only Nightwing. Being on that journey has helped immensely even though there are still several roadblocks that continue to pop up during this Ric Grayson era. Now that could all change as the road to “Joker War” is going to be hitting Nightwing. What plans does Joker have for Dick Grayson in preperation for “Joker War”? Let’s find out with Nightwing #70
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ryan Benjamin
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Over Bludhaven a helicopter experiences some turbulence because of unexpected extra wait. This weight turns out to be Ric Grayson (still wearing his red, white and black costume), who ends up eventually jumping off.
Ric jumps from rooftop to rooftop. As he does so he continues to think about the two sets of memories he has, the one where he was trained to be an assassin by William Cobb and the other being trained by Batman to become a superhero as Robin and then Nightwing.
Those memories have become harder to decipher after finding out that his doctor, Dr. Haas, was a member of the Court of Owls. While staring at the crystal he got from Dr. Haas, he remembers how it was used to make him fall under her command.
After some time thinking more Ric decides to find out who his true version is.
At a hospital, Colleen Edwards tells Malcolm Hutch they need to stop being Nightwings because it almost got her brother (Zak Edwards) killed. She goes on to say that while they are all trained first responders they don’t have the training to be playing superheroes. Malcolm says that Bludhaven needs them. Zak wakes up and agrees with his sister.
Zak then goes on to reveal the Talon who attacked him was different from the one who attacked them. He believes that Cabbie was the Talon that attacked the others. Malcolm reveals that to be true but that Cabbie was brainwashed to do so and was able to overcome it to beat the first Talon.
Colleen wonders where Alphonse Sapienza is. Malcolm believes since Alphonse founded their Nightwings crew he is obsessed with making this work and looking for the first Talon.
Elsewhere, Alphonse (wearing the blue and black Nightwing costume) responds to a stabbing, believing Talon to be responsible.
When Alphonse gets to the location of the stabbing he is attacked from behind by the Joker, who slams Alphonse’s head on top of a stove that was turned on. Joker tells Alphonse he is not the real Nightwing. Joker then asks where he can find the real Nightwing.
Elsewhere, a costume Ric Grayson continues to hop from rooftop to rooftop. Eventually he discovers someone being held up at gunpoint. Ric quickly acts by taking out the thug. As he does so he realizes this was a drug deal gone wrong after seeing the other guy running away.
Ric starts thinking he should go talk to Bea. When he does his headache returns.
Nearby the guy who ran away runs into the Joker. Joker asks the guy who he was running from. The guy says it was one of the Nightwings. Joker doesn’t like the answer and gives the guy a cigarette that blows up and kills the guy.
Over at The Prodigal, while cleaning up the bar, Bea hears something upstairs. When she goes to check she finds Ric suffering from a headache.
Ric tells Bea that there are too many different memories in his head that they are fighting each other. Bea asks if Ric found Dr. Haas. Ric says Dr. Haas tried to make him into a tool using a special crystal he was able to take from her before the doctor died.
Bea takes Ric to get some aspirin down at the bar. As they walk down Bea thinks that Ric should go talk to Barbara Gordon. Ric says he can’t do that yet because of his battling memories he isn’t sure he can trust Barbara yet.
Back upstairs, Joker sneaks into Bea’s apartment and takes the crystal Ric took from Dr. Haas. Joker smiles as he believes the crystal will help his plans be even more interesting. End of issue.
The Good: There is not a lot of forward progress made from where we were at the end of Nightwing #69 to where Nightwing #70 ends. That has been the trend when it comes to this whole Ric Grayson era that DC Comics and Dan Jurgens have had this series on. If nothing else, the upcoming Joker War may be exactly what Nightwing needed to actually get the jump start for Dick Grayson’s full return.
Everything that ties into the upcoming Joker War was the strength of Nightwing #70. Jurgens gets the idea that no Batman Family member is safe. And in Nightwing’s case that fact is even worse for Alphonse Sapienza, Malcolm Hutch, Colleen Edwards, and Zak Edwards. Being seen as fake Nightwing’s just places a bigger target on these four. That is not a good thing when it comes to dealing with the Joker.
Jurgens does a solid job keeping this version of Joker in line with how James Tynion is writing the character. The way Joker speaks gives you a sense of fear as he could easily kill whoever is in front of him at any given moment. We see that the guy that ran away from Ric Grayson immediately got killed by Joker with an explosive cigarette. That action does make you wonder if Alphonse is still alive after being attacked given that we saw Joker carrying his bloody Nightwing costume at the end of this issue.
On the Ric Grayson side of things, the one thing of note that was interesting for this story is how Jurgens continues to emphasize Bea Bennett’s importance. With each passing issue of Nightwing we are getting clues that Bea has more involvement than what we may know. Nightwing #70 gives us another hint at that possibility as Ric Grayson only starts getting his headache when he thinks of talking to Bea. This may just be a red herring but wouldn’t be surprising if it turned out to be a bigger part of the story given how Jurgens has written Bea’s involvement in recent issues.
Ryan Benjamin’s artwork throughout Nightwing #70 was solid. There wasn’t a big action set piece for him to show off his choreography. Even then he was able to put on display Ric Grayson’s agility for a short time that showed he could do well with an action sequence. He also did a good job making this Joker look like the same version of the character we are seeing over in Batman.
The Bad: Once again the biggest problem Nightwing #70 suffers from the stalling tactics that Jurgens continues to employ. This has been one of the biggest problems with the entire Ric Grayson direction. If it wasn’t for the tie-in to the Joker War there wouldn’t be a big difference from where we were before Nightwing #70.
We begin and end Nightwing #70 with Ric Grayson suffering from the two sets of memories he has. Rather than do something about it all Ric Grayson does is think how bad of a situation this is for him. At no point is Ric proactive about how to restore the true memories he should have.
At this point there should be no question about what Ric should be doing. It is time for Ric to act and discover what is truly going on. We saw the character actually do that by going to find Dr. Haas in Nightwing #69. But just one issue later we see Ric back to being the confused guy who doesn’t want to actually find out who he is. Ric Grayson is just all talk, no action.
Bea pointing out that Ric should go talk with Barbara Gordon just further emphasizes how little the character actually does to find a solution. Even if this was done by design it is a very poor one because it does nothing to make Ric Grayson be seen in the positive light. All Jurgens does is fuel the fire of why people want Dick Grayson to return and never have to deal with Ric again.
Not helping make things better is how Jurgens cannot think of something new as he begins every issue of Nightwing with Ric Grayson’s inner monologue detailing how he is not Dick Grayson. Jurgens has run that into the ground so far that it feels like it has reached the Earth’s core. There is absolutely nothing that is learned from reading Ric Grayson feeling sorry for himself because of his muddled memories. We’ve had the same inner monologue start every issue since Dick Grayson got shot in the head.
By constantly running with this direction for Ric Grayson’s portrayal all Jurgens ends up accomplishing is making the character’s dialogue be nothing more than white noise. As a major narrative choice that Jurgens has made this is not a good thing to have the reader think. Jurgens needs to do something to change things up with how he wants to get over Ric Grayson’s current state of mind.
Jurgens also continues to not do anything to make the fake Nightwings any more compelling. While it was good to see Colleen and Zak Edwards be honest that they never trained to be superheroes this did not help their cases in being compelling characters. All it did was reinforce the fact that we have never been on a journey with these four to ever actually be convinced they would make good superheroes. They are still a bunch of people who threw on Halloween costumes and decided that was enough to be superheroes.
That is by no means to demean the training these characters had as trained firefighters and cops. But the truth is we as readers never saw everything Alphonse Sapienza, Malcolm Hutch, Colleen Edwards, and Zak Edwards do to get to the point that becoming the Nightwing Corps together was the next step in their respective character journeys. Having the Joker and others continue to question these four and being clearly called out as fakes only hurts any sort of character development Jurgens is trying to give them.
This is best shown with how Alphonse Sapienza continues to act without truly thinking of the situation he has placed himself as Nightwing. Rather than coming up with a way to show he should be Nightwing, all he does is angrily search for William Cobb’s Talon without a clue of where he is. There is nothing that makes Alphonse Sapienza look like a great superhero by doing this. It just makes the fact that he was attacked by Joker be exactly what the character deserved for rushing off without a plan or consulting his fellow Nightwing Corps members.
Because of this Jurgens takes away the impact of seeing Joker with the bloody Nightwing costume Alphonse was wearing at the end of this issue. You just expect this was the result of Alphonse being involved in a fight against Joker. This just speaks to how poorly Alphonse and his friends have been developed by Jurgens by the point we find them in Nightwing #70.
Overall: Just as things were looking up Dan Jurgens takes several steps back with the story he presented in Nightwing #70. Jurgens does nothing but spotlight all of the problems this series has had since Ric Grayson became the lead character. If it wasn’t for the tie-in to the upcoming Joker War story Nightwing #70 would’ve been a complete loss.
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