Dick Grayson is finally back. While that is something to celebrate after having to go through the whole Ric Grayson Saga there is no time to rest for Dick Grayson as he returns to being Nightwing. Things got extra complicated as KGBeast heard that he failed to kill Nightwing after shooting him in the head. Because of that and his pride as an assassin KGBeast has decided to visit Bludhaven to finish the job he was contracted to do. With Dick Grayson just back as Nightwing will KGBeast be able to kill the former Boy Wonder? Let’s find out with Nightwing #76.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Nick Filadi
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: Nightwing thinks back to the conversation he had with Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon before KGBeast shot him in the head. (See our full review of Batman #55 for details on this event.)
In the present, KGBeast threatens to kill Bea Bennett before killing Nightwing. Nightwing demands KGBeast let Bea go but KGBeast is dead set on make up for not killing Nightwing.
All of this talking gives Bea the opening to hit KGBeast with an elbow shot. Nightwing quickly uses that distraction to knock KGBeast through the Prodigy Bar window, to the outside.
Nightwing does not waste a second as he is able to nail KGBeast with a barrage of quick strikes while mocking the villain for not being able to beat Batman or him in a fight. KGBeast tries to say that is not true but Nightwing easily dodges all of his attacks. While dodging Nightwing gets close and smashes KGBeast head through a car window.
KGBeast will not stay done and declares that even when Batman left him for dead he overcame death (see our full review of Batman #57 for details on these events.)
Nightwing still continues to dominate the fight. KGBeast gets desperate and attempts one last shot. Nightwing throws his escrima and gets it stuck in KGBeast’s gun arm. This causes KGBeast’s gun arm to explode, incapacitating KGBeast in the process.
Malcolm Hutch (one of the former Nightwing Corps members during Ric Grayson saga) shows up and is surprised Nightwing took out KGBeast while saving others. Nightwing reminds Hutch that the superhero job requires a variety of skills. Hutch wonders if that means Nightwing is cool if he tries the superhero thing again. Nightwing says yes as long as Hutch properly trains for it.
After Hutch and the other first responders take KGBeast away Nightwing meets up with Bea. As he hugs her Nightwing thinks how much he loves Bea makes the decision he has to make much harder.
Later that night Nightwing and Bea talk on the roof of the bar. Bea comments on how confident Nightwing was during the fight as it made her confident as well.
Nightwing then thinks back at what Batman told him about the price they all pay for the superhero life they live.
Bea asks if they can go back to being like they were together and if Nightwing remembers all that they shared. Nightwing stays quiet for a moment and hen apologizes to Bea. He admits when he was Ric Grayson he felt like a different person that does not exist anymore. Bea breaks down crying and pushes Nightwing away when he asks her to still be friends. Bea tells Nightwing she never wants to see him again and walks away.
Nightwing initially goes after Bea but stops after a few steps. Nightwing remembers how he told Batman that Alfred believed he can break free from that cycle and how Batman said it does not work that way.
Nightwing takes off his mask and as Dick Grayson cries alone or a bit. Shortly afterwards he puts on his mask back on and jumps off the roof to continue protecting the city as Nightwing. End of issue.
The Good: Nightwing #76 did what it needed to do in order to get us back into a place for Dick Grayson to take the helm back of this series and superhero identity. It is one of those necessary evil type reading experiences as Dan Jurgens had to close the book on the whole Ric Grayson Saga once and for all. The way it is wrapped up is not clean but Jurgens did what was needed when all was said and done.
For as hard of a time I’ve given the way Jurgens wrote the Ric Grayson version of the character the fact is he gave the character a distinct voice. All the self-doubt and pushing his past life away with his constant inner monologue was who Ric Grayson was. For better or worse, usually worse, that was the decision that Jurgens and DC Comics made when developing Ric Grayson.
To his credit Jurgens used that voice he created for the Ric Grayson character to make it clear why Dick Grayson’s return is so impactful. Because at the end of the day this whole Ric Grayson experience did happen and Dick Grayson has to deal with the ramifications of that period o his life. Which is where the actually conflict of Nightwing #76 centers around. We see that Dick Grayson is fighting the reality that he can’t simply merge his Ric and Dick Grayson lives together. That would go against who he really is if he does in fact want to find the balance that he told Batman he is capable of.
Jurgens played into that well with the decision that Dick Grayson made to break up with Bea Bennett. The way it was done was as awkward as expected with Dick naively thinking Bea would accept trying to just be friends. What made that whole awkward break-up work was how Dick did realize that he subconsciously said the friend line to further push Bea away. The final pages show that he knew that self-awareness and the fact that Dick does need to focus on getting his life in order in and out of being Nightwing if he is to show Bruce Wayne wrong.
Bea’s reaction to all of this was an understandable one. The one positive out of this whole Ric Grayson saga was how Jurgens developed Bea to be someone that always had Ric and Dick’s back throughout this period. That made her become a strong character that showed she was willing to make things work. Having her see the real Nightwing at work also made the whole breakup afterwards more heartbreaking. Because right before that she accepted who Dick Grayson was after finally seeing him in action. For Dick to pull the rug right from under her right afterwards with their relationship made her anger and sadness over this understandable.
That all said it was honestly great to see Nightwing back in action again. For the first time in a long time we got to see Dick Grayson back as Nightwing kicking ass once. The way he was able to easily wipe the floor with KGBeast was a strong reminder that when Dick Grayson is at the top of his game he has all the skills to match the best, including his mentor. Making the way Nightwing fought even more effective was how he used KGBeast anger over his failure to kill him against him. The mind games built an intriguing rivalry between Nightwing and KGBeast that can now be revisited in the future.
Ronan Cliquet did a very good job providing Nightwing #76 with a classic DC Comics superhero look. The action was all smooth as Cliquet as he showed how Nightwing used his speed and agility to his advantage over the powerhouse that is KGBeast. The art really reminded you what Nightwing looks like at the top of his game. That was definitely needed after how we’ve spent so much time with the half-hearted effort the character put in as the cabbie Ric Grayson.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Nightwing #76 is easily the best issue of Dan Jurgens run on this series. Jurgens and Ronan Cliquet reminded fans why when Nightwing is at the top of his game he is one of the best superheroes around. The ending, while heartbreaking, does provide the character and series to get a fresh start in whatever form Nightwing returns in March 2021.
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