Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo have been delivering with their early start to Nightwing. The first two issues of their run has reestablished Dick Grayson back as Nightwing. One of the major changes is Dick Grayson’s new found wealth thanks to the fortune that Alfred Pennyworth left him in his will. With this new fortune it looks as though Dick Grayson will be aiming to make an impact in and out of his superhero life. Along the way we’ve seen several villains like Blockbuster and new character Heartless being established as major antagonists in Bludhaven. What will happen next in Bludhaven? Let’s find out with Nightwing #80.
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: In his apartment Dick Grayson is woken up by Haley barking at someone knocking on his door. Dick opens the door and is immediately questioned by two detectives about Martin Holt, who they reveal was found murdered on the streets. Hearing all this Dick immediately calls Barbara Gordon, who just left his apartment, to return to help him out.
The detectives continue to question Dick and mention that all the recent murder victims have had their hearts cut out of their chests. Barbara shows up and tells the detectives that she was with Dick the entire night. Both Dick and Barbara go on to use their law degrees to show the detectives they are aware of their rights and offer to help them if needed. This causes the detectives to back down and leave.
After the detectives leave Dick changes into his Nightwing gear and asks Barbara to help him with the investigation on this heart stealer case. He goes on to ask her to make a call for him.
Later, Nightwing meets up with Robin (Tim Drake), who gives Nightwing a chain wallet Batman is gifting him showing that Dick won’t be living down getting his wallet stolen the previous night.
After that Nightwing and Robin jump on a train to get back to Dick’s place quickly. As they do Nightwing fills Robin in on the heart stealer case.
When they get back to his apartment Dick tells Tim he wants Tim to pose as an orphan with Haley to get into the tent city of homeless kids to find out what is going on.
Later, Tim with Haley heads to the tent city. As he does Tim asks Dick if he spent the night with Barbara. Dick says he slept on the couch. Barbara then reminds them both that she can hear their conversation. Tim then goes to talk to Elliot (Martin Holt’s son) homeless kids gathered around a bonfire.
An hour later Tim breaks away from the other kids to talk to Dick and Barbara about what he found out. Tim says that many of the homeless kids have the same story as Elliot as their parents were killed and hearts ripped out of their chests.
Brutale and Electrocutioner suddenly show up and tell all the homeless kids that Blockbuster gets a cut of every crime committed. Nightwing and Robin show up take on Brutale and Electrocutioner together. Using quick teamwork Nightwing and Robin are able to knock both villains out using Electrocutioner’s powers.
A fire suddenly quickly starts spreading. Nightwing and Robin go to help the kids out. As they do this Nightwing runs into Heartless. End of issue.
The Good: One of the most impressive things that Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo have done with their run on Nightwing thus far is the seamless transition from scene to scene. Nightwing #80 is yet another example of how this has been one of the strengths of Taylor and Redondo’s work together. Everything just flows together so well that you lose track how much time is spent in the world that is being crafted in Bludhaven.
The flow of the story made the character work come across as natural interactions you expect to see between Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, and Tim Drake. Taylor captures how united they are as they easily banter with each other. Whether it’s the awkward “it’s complicated” status of Dick and Barbara’s relationship to the big brother-little brother way Dick and Tim talk with each other, the dialogue is at its best.
Opening up Nightwing #80 with some detectives questioning Dick as a suspect to the murder of Martin Holt was a strong way to kick everything off. Given the set-up of how Dick did purchase Martin and Elliot a three month stay at a hotel it is logical that the police would look to question him about Martin’s murder. This set-up gave Taylor the opportunity to start exploring how the Bludhaven Police Department operate with how Dick and Barbara called out the detectives on their odd way of questioning. Taylor careful chose the dialogue to show how the detectives dialogue to show that there may be some corruption within the BPD that likely has ties with Blockbuster based on that crime boss show of power in Nightwing #78.
This led well into how quickly both Dick and Barbara went about actively investigating the case revolving around Heartless. There was no time wasted as Dick understood that the case around Heartless likely involves the homeless kids in Bludhaven. Remembering the way the kids responded to his presence in the tent city bringing in Tim Drake to help out was a smart play by Dick.
This move opened the door for Taylor to explore the Batman Family dynamic post-Joker War. There is a sense that the Batman Family is very united in this dark time, something we are seeing in James Tynion’s work on Batman and Joker. Seeing other Batman Family titles explore the dynamic that Nightwing, Robin, and Oracle share helps in building out the entire franchise as being a world that is not just about Batman. From both their banter and teamwork, there is a strong connection between Nightwing and Robin that we see here that spoke to the big brother-little brother relationship they shared pre-New 52.
On the villain side of things Taylor and Redondo do a very good job building a terrifying mystic around Heartless. Even though we’ve barely seen Heartless in action Taylor has built the villain to have a legend within Bludhaven that is of fear based on how the BPD detectives and homeless kids talk about Heartless. This helps make it so when Redondo draws the character in the final page the villain already has an aura of someone not to be messed with.
The use of Brutale and Electrocutioner also effectively continues the slow build of how Blockbuster controls things in Bludhaven. Having Brutale and Electrocutioner acting as Blockbuster’s muscle shows us how far the crime boss is going about controlling everything that happens in the city. It helps in rebuilding Blockbuster’s status as a major villain as we know he also controls the Bludhaven government based on how Melinda Zucco, the new Bludhaven mayor and daughter of Tony Zucco, is working for him. It’ll be interesting to see how long we see Nightwing have to go up against the people working for Blockbuster before their eventual meeting.
As mentioned earlier, Redondo knocks it out of the park with his artwork on Nightwing #80. Redondo’s artwork elevates all of Taylor’s writing to a new level. He gets how the character facial reactions should match the dialogue being said. Little things like having a chibi version of Oracle reminding Nightwing and Robin that she is listening to their conversation made the entire scene better. He also does a great job making both his double page spread pages and action sequences look unique to this series.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Nightwing #80 is another home run by the creative team of Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo. This issue does a great job in showcasing the dynamic that Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, and Tim Drake share. At the same time, the developments around the new Heartless villain continue to be compelling as things continue to escalate in Bludhaven. All of this makes Nightwing one of the best comic books on the market.
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