Like the rest of the Batman Family, Dick Grayson enters Infinite Frontier with a lot of baggage as he went through forgetting who he was and becoming Ric Grayson for a time. Now in the aftermath of the Ric Grayson Saga, Joker War, and Dark Nights: Death Metal, Dick Grayson is going to get a chance to return to being Nightwing. How will all the events Dick Grayson and the rest of the Batman Family impact how Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo direction for their run on Nightwing? Let’s find out with Nightwing #78.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime in the past in Gotham Heights Park, a young Barbara Gordon tries to get some rich kids led by Shelton Lyle to stop bullying another kid. A young Dick Grayson appears and helps Barbara defend the kid that is being bullied. Eventually Detective Jim Gordon appears and stops Shelton and his gangs bullying.
Later, Detective Gordon drops Dick off at Wayne Mansion. Barbara tells Dick if he ever needs to be rescued by a fairy godmother to give her a call.
Dick at first worries that Bruce Wayne is going to yell at him but realizes Bruce’s isn’t even there. While doing some dishes Alfred Pennyworth says he knows Dick defended the bullied kid because he saw someone in need and didn’t have to wear a costume to do the right thing.
In the present, in Bludhaven, Nightwing comes across some guys bullying a three-legged dog. Nightwing wastes no time in taking the four guys out and forcing them to run away.
Nightwing checks on the dog but it bites his hand out of fear. Nightwing takes the dog and decides to take it to a vet while he goes to a doctor to bandage his dog bite.
Under a bridge Blockbuster (Roland Desmond) meets with Bludhaven’s Mayor. Blockbuster is not happy that his operations are stagnating and kills Bludhaven’s Mayor for killing him. Blockbuster then congratulates Melinda Zucco (daughter of Tony Zucco and Bludhaven’s City Council President) on becoming the new Mayor of Bludhaven.
Elsewhere Dick Grayson goes to the apartment block that he bought with Bruce but now needs to figure out how he doesn’t run out of money (thanks to the Wayne Fortune being almost gone as seen in Batman #101). Dick notices someone is in his apartment and heads up with the dog he rescued.
Nightwing enters the apartment and is immediately flipped by Barbara Gordon. Barbara calls out Dick for his security system being something easy for any top hacker to get through. Dick then introduces Barbara to the dog he rescued. Barbara says that the dog is now Dick’s since he brought it to the apartment, though Dick isn’t so sure yet.
Barbara then reveals she is there because Alfred chose her as the executor of his will. She then shows Dick what Alfred left for him. Dick is surprised that Alfred left his sizable fortune to him. Barbara then gives Dick an unopened letter that Alfred left for him.
In the letter Alfred reveals that as Bruce’s legal guardian he was given a large amount of Wayne Industries stock that he took and invested over the years to grow his wealth since he had no need for money. He goes on to say that he believes in Dick as a person as he saw him as his son and knows he’ll use the wealth to help others.
The letters leaves Dick in tears and Barbara gives him a hug.
In Upper Bludhaven, Melinda Zucco goes back to her place. There she reveals to the person waiting for her that she is the new Mayor of Bludhaven. The person asks Melinda about how long she will wait to do meet Dick Grayson. Melinda says she is not ready yet but will soon go find him. End of issue.
The Good: The first words that come to mind when finishing Nightwing #78 was “fresh-start.” There is no resetting of continuity or ignoring events Dick Grayson went through that fans don’t like. Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo embrace everything about who the character is and look to show fans what is next in the life for Dick Grayson in and out of his Nightwing superhero identity.
What Nightwing #78 did best was establish the mission statement for Dick Grayson. Taylor and Redondo are entering the Nightwing series after a point where Dick Grayson is carrying a lot of baggage from different events that have happened in his life over the years. From Bane and Joker’s individual attempts to destroy everything about the Batman Family to being shot in the head and becoming Ric Grayson to Alfred Pennyworth’s death in his absence, there is a lot that has happened to and around the people Dick Grayson cares about. That is something that we see Nightwing #78 embrace as its these events to provide a perspective as to why now is a good time for Dick Grayson to get a fresh-start while not forgetting the past.
That is an attitude we see carried throughout Nightwing #78. Both in and out of his Nightwing identity we get insight into how Dick is still figuring out what he wants to do. At the same time he is not letting uncertainty in his life to stop him from being Nightwing. Rather, being Nightwing is who he is naturally. Which made our first look at Nightwing jumping off a crane while the sun is still out such an amazing visual. That visual along with how he saves the dog from a gang exemplifies that Nightwing is a superhero who will act no matter what time of day it is.
Opening Nightwing #78 with a flashback to Dick Grayson’s early years when he first came under Bruce Wayne’s care was a strong way to start a run by Taylor and Redondo. Its sometimes easy to forget that we haven’t gotten much of a modernization of Dick Grayson years as Robin. For the most part we’ve seen Dick’s pre-Robin days explored in modern comics.
Giving us a glimpse into a young Dick Grayson help young Barbara Gordon defend a kid from bullies worked well to define who both characters are. Even though they are well known as Robin/Nightwing and Batgirl/Oracle, Dick and Barbara don’t need their superhero identities to step up to do the right thing. They are people who publicly will defend others because it is the right thing to do.
Which worked well into how Alfred and Dick’s father-son dynamic is developed over the course of Nightwing #78. As we see in the flashback Alfred understands the good person who Dick is. Rather than reprimanding him Alfred knew that Dick was doing what he believed was right. This carried over well into the letter that Alfred as part of his will to Dick. The letter acts as an extension of this opening and puts over how Alfred really was a father-figure to Dick. Alfred leaving his fortune to Dick because he knew Dick will use it to good things with it was a touching way to complete this arc in Nightwing #78.
The interaction between Dick and Barbara worked extremely well. Taylor shows that the dynamic between the two is much more personal. Even when Barbara is calling Dick out for his security system it is all worked into the banter that they would normally have with one another. This all continued to further develop Barbara back in the Oracle role that have seen her get back into in Infinite Frontier #0 and Batman #106. And with this Barbara is able to give some direction for how Dick can use his new fortune to make him a better superhero.
Since we are back in Bludhaven re-establishing Roland Desmond’s Blockbuster as the one running things in the city was a smart move. Going back having Blockbuster being in a Kingpin of Crime-sort of role in Bludhaven works well to immediately build him back up as a terrifying villain. Killing the current Mayor of Bludhaven and then giving Melinda Zucco the title establishes how powerful he is in the city without doing much talking. Blockbuster is going to let his actions do the talking, whether they are verbal or physical.
Bringing in Melinda Zucco as the new Mayor of Bludhaven is also eye brow raising. Anytime we see the name of Zucco thrown around you know there is trouble waiting for Dick Grayson. We saw that when Dick got involved in what Sonia Zucco, one of Tony Zucco’s other daughters, was doing during Detective Comics: The Black Mirror arc. And Taylor wastes no time in revealing that Melinda Zucco is looking for Dick for an unknown reason. Considering her connection to Blockbuster it is a big unknown whether it is a good or bad thing that Melinda has in mind when she meets someone her father directly impacted.
As mentioned before, Bruno Redondo artwork does a fantastic job with all of his artwork in Nightwing #78. He does a good job in giving the opening scene a tone that does look like it is taken place in the past. There is a youthful look to it which fits with the perspective of the ages Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon for these scenes. That makes the present-day scenes work even better as we are then placed into the perspective of an adult Dick Grayson. The action that we get is also very smooth as Redondo shows how much of a showman Nightwing is in his fighting style while still efficiently defeating the gang he fights.
But where Redondo’s artwork best shines is in the double page splash sequence of Dick Grayson reading the letter that Alfred Pennyworth left. Redondo does a fantastic job packing in as much emotion as possible in this scene. You really felt how the letter was something Dick needed to get some closure with Alfred’s death. That was further enhanced by Adriano Lucas coloring that amplified the emotions that this scene packed in.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Adriano Lucas knock it out of the park with their work on Nightwing #78. A strong statement is made to get the reader immediately invested into where Dick Grayson is at this point in his life. This is definitely one of the must-have comic books in DC Comics new Infinite Frontier direction.
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