Nightwing is back. After spending almost two years of being Ric Grayson after all of his memories wiped out and reconstructed by the Court of Owls we finally have the full return of Dick Grayson. The return started in Nightwing #74 and was firmly established as the status quo for the character once again at the end of Joker War in Batman #99 and Batman #100. Now with Dick Grayson back as the one and only Nightwing how will he move forward with his life as he still remembers his time as Ric Grayson? Let’s find out with Nightwing #75.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Travis Moore and Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Monday, Donna Troy and Garth (Tempest) pay Dick Grayson a visit to welcome him back. As they all catch up Dick still isn’t sure he is able to step back into being the Nightwing everyone remembers. After reminiscing for a bit Dick admits to Donna and Garth that he still has stuff to take care of before stepping back in as Nightwing full time.
On Tuesday, in Moscow, KGBeast is having a drink at a bar. Some drunks in the bar start hounding KGBeast for being a failure of an assassin since they heard Nightwing is still alive. KGBeast quickly kills all the guys making fun of him.
On Wednesday, in Gotham City, Batgirl and Dick Gryason (who is wearing the red and black vigilante costume he wore as Ric Grayson) work together to take care of what is left of Joker’s gang that is still active in the city. As they easily take care of Joker’s gang Batgirl calls out Dick for not committing to being Nightwing again and how all he is doing is denying who he is. Dick says he is not sure that is true and right now this is who he is.
On Thursday, KGBeast makes his way to Gotham City by skydiving into an area 200 miles from the city. As soon as he lands KGBeast kills an old couple and steals their car to drive into the city.
On Friday, Batman and Dick are working together to take out other remnants of Joker’s gang. As they do that Batman and Dick end up chasing the last member of Joker’s gang they were fighting to the site where, while under Joker’s control, Dick was forced to fight Batgirl (Nightwing #73).
Dick notices his Nightwing costume hanging over the cage and quickly realizes Batman led them to that location. Dick says that Bruce and Barbara need to realize that he has the life he wants now. Bruce says that they both lie and if they are both being honest with themselves that neither one of them knows what they want without Alfred around anymore. After a silent moment Dick remembers how Alfred was always there for him in his life.
Flashing back to days earlier, Dick visits Alfred’s grave and says he sorry for how he treated him while being Ric Grayson. As Dick breaks down crying in front of his grave Alfred’s spirit tells him that all he ever wanted was for Dick to be happy. Alfred tells Dick that he is different from Bruce and if he wants to have a balance between his personal and superhero life that Dick can make that possible.
Back in the present Bruce admits that having a happily ever after life is not in the cards for them. Dick does not agree and believes Alfred did see the difference in them and how he can break free from the abyss.
Bruce then calls Dick out for believing that by becoming Nightwing again that he’ll lose Bea. Dick smirks and says that is true and Alfred would tell him the opposite.
On Saturday, in Bludhaven, Malcolm Hutch as Nightwing is trying to stop a group of thieves at the local museum as one of the. Nightwing (Dick Grayson) shows up and makes quick work of the thieves. Malcolm is surprised to see the original Nightwing back. Nightwing says he is back and asks for a meeting with the others.
Later, Nightwing talks with Malcolm, Alphonse Sapienza, Colleen Edwards, and Zak Edwards to ask them to stop trying to be Nightwings because they will do much better work in their work as cops and fire fighters. At first they all resist but Nightwing reminds them about how Alphonse and Zak got hurt while fighting the Court of Owls and Joker. Hearing that Alphonse is the first to agree and they all tell Nightwing they have his back if he ever needs help.
Nightwing then goes to the Prodigal Bar. He goes inside too meet with Bea once she is alone. After taking off his mask, Dick talks to Bea about how while his memories of their time together is still foggy he still wants to be with her.
On a rooftop near Prodigal Bar, KGBeast notices Nightwing inside the bar and waits for the right moment to kill him.
Back inside Prodigal Bar, Bea admits when she saw Dick with Batman and the others that she didn’t think he was the man she fell in love with anymore and felt her world melted away, which is why she ran away. Bea goes on to say Dick’s life as a superhero is so far away from her and that his life as Nightwing is pulling him further away from her. Dick hugs Bea and tells her that even though he was going by a different name the person she fell in love with was still him.
Just as Dick and Bea are about to confirm their relationship KGBeast starts shooting up the bar. Nightwing quickly grabs Bea and goes behind the bar to give them both some cover. With Bea safe, Nightwing goes to confront KGBeast. As he does an explosion is set off that sends Nightwing flying back.
KGBeast then appears and immediately grabs Bea. KGBeast says that since Nightwing cares so much about Bea that he will kill her first. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #75 is a tale of two comic books. Much of this issue places us in the same spot we were in with Ric Grayson as we see Dick Grayson continuing to question what he should do with his life now that he has memories back. Once we get into Dick Grayson accepts being Nightwing again this becomes more like the superhero comic we expect from this series before Ric Grayson happened. Unfortunately for one of these halves holds the other back from this being a successful return to form for both Dick Grayson the character and Nightwing as a series.
With Nightwing #75 the moment we get the flashback to Dick Grayson talking to Alfred Pennyworth’s grave is the point in this issue that feels like we are actually diving into new content. It’s the first time since Nightwing #49 that it did feel as though we were actually reading Dick Grayson dialogue. There is a sense of honesty to everything that Dick says during this scene. You can feel the pain he is going through as Dick is only now able to deal with what it means for Alfred not to be in his life.
Making this scene be the standout it turned out to be was how Dan Jurgens actually worked in the whole Ric Grayson saga into this. Probably even more so than Bruce Wayne, Alfred was a father-figure to Dick in a time he needed a parent most. Throughout his life Alfred has been the guy he has been able to turn to in a time when he is confused. Knowing that and having the memories of how as Ric Grayson he turned Alfred’s help away made the tears we see on his face made the entire issue have the emotional impact Jurgens was aiming for.
Adding in how Alfred’s spirit spoke directly to Dick as the scene went on was well-executed. All of Alfred’s dialogue spoke to why Dick Grayson is different from Bruce Wayne. Unlike Bruce, Dick has been able to move past the darkness and create a life for himself where he has been able to balance a personal and superhero life at the same. Even when it is not a perfect balance Dick has never stop trying to figure out how to live his best life. That is credit to how both Alfred and Bruce were able to raise him.
Bringing that forward into the present with Dick telling Bruce that very fact was a great character moment. Especially right now with how Batman #101 established how Bruce will be even more focused than ever to become the best Batman possible positioning Dick Grayson to be someone who will do his best to have a balance in his life is a great way to differentiate them. It’s all a different way to tell a grounded story set in the gritty reality that is Gotham City that makes having both Batman and Nightwing around key parts of the franchise.
Establishing all of that made Dick’s reunion with Bea mean more. Bea’s hesitation to resume their relationship comes from an honest place because she knows who Ric Grayson was. Dick Grayson is someone different because of the double life that he leads. That sense of unknown after going through so much with him when he was Ric Grayson is understandably scary. This in turn made Dick wanting to keep their relationship going be a further testament to how he does want to have this balance in his life.
Which makes the return of KGBeast at this moment an interesting move. On the Dick Grayson and Bea Bennett front, this whole battle could show them that they may need to take a break. Because with the full return of Nightwing it means that there will be even more danger waiting for them in the post-Joker War world. KGBeast can be a representative of that danger and with Bea already teetering on if resuming their relationship maybe taking a break will be better for them in the long-term.
Jurgens also does a solid job establishing why KGBeast would immediately come after Nightwing. This is all a sense of pride thing for KGBeast. Hearing that the original Nightwing is alive just point out how he failed to assassinate one of his targets. Setting that up by having some drunks at a bar talking crap about KGBeast’s failure provided that greater motivation that makes him come across as a bigger threat.
Travis Moore and Ronan Cliquet did a good job making their artwork match one another that you don’t even notice when the transition happened. All of the artwork for Nightwing #75 flowed well together to help tell the story of Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing again. All the action flowed well. And as previously mention, the scene at Alfred’s grave put over how emotional Dick was as he openly spoke about all his feelings over Alfred’s death.
The Bad: For as big of a deal that Dick Grayson as Nightwing should be the entire first half of this issue came across as unnecessary. Everything about it felt like the same-old Ric Grayson “I don’t know who I am” storytelling that Jurgens has recycled since Nightwing #50. There was a moment that Jurgens set up a different path by bringing in Donna Troy and Tempest to reunite with their previously lost friend. That was all perfect set up to have an engaging recap of how Dick Grayson is back as Nightwing. But instead of that Jurgens goes about giving us scenes were we just see the character pull a Ric Grayson of saying that he doesn’t want to be Nightwing again.
In going with this direction for a good portion of Nightwing #75 Jurgens completely negates the powerful moment that was Batman giving Dick Grayson his Nightwing costume back in Batman #99. That was a huge character moment that solidified the return in a few pages. Jurgens turned all that into what was an exhausting 20 page story that was just not needed. Jurgens could’ve hontestly started Nightwing #75 with Dick at Alfred’s grave and absolutely nothing would’ve have been lost from not having the previous twenty pages.
And like was mentioned before, there was so many ways that Jurgens could’ve recapped why Dick Grayson is back in a few pages. Whether it was showing us Dick’s dinner with Donna and Garth or him talking to Alfred’s grave, Jurgens had different ways to tell an effective story. But by delaying things Jurgens started things off making the story come across as a regression. Which is against what Nightwing #75 should’ve been a show of how the series is going to be moving forward from this point on.
While Nightwing telling Malcolm Hutch, Alphonse Sapienza, Colleen Edwards, and Zak Edwards that they should not continue their whole Nightwing Corp thing were all the right words it did very little to add to this issue’s story. This all falls on how at no point did Jurgens actually show us these four characters as effective defenders of Bludhaven. Whenever there was a chance for them to step up Jurgens constantly gave us examples over the last 24 issues that they needed to stop. Because of that you don’t feel bad for them being told to stop. Instead you are just left feeling no need to see these characters ever again with how ineffective they were.
Overall: There was great hope that once Dick Grayson returned as Nightwing during Joker War that things would turn around for the character and his series. Unfortunately Dan Jurgens spends the first half of Nightwing #75 oversized page count in rehashing the same Ric Grayson storytelling that has hurt this series for the last two years. Its not until Jurgens gets past that and gives us a story about what Dick Grayson returning as Nightwing means that this issue turns a corner. Hopefully with the appearance of KGBeast the positives of Nightwing #75 are what become the focus of this series moving forward.
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