Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo dropped a huge bomb in Nightwing #81 by revealing that Dick Grayson has a long lost sister. Not only that but Dick Grayson sister happens to be none other than new Mayor of Bludhaven and Tony Zucco’s daughter Melinda Zucco. That is not the welcome back Dick Grayson was likely looking to have as he is getting back into the flow of being Nightwing and living in Bludhaven again. Now with this bombshell dropped on him how will Dick Grayson respond? Let’s find out with Nightwing #82.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Bruno Redondo, Rick Leonardi, and Neil Edwards
Inkers: Bruno Redondo, Andy Lanning, and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Still stunned over Melinda Zucco revealing she is his sister Dick Grayson realizes that he needs to stop something and takes his Nightwing mask from Melinda. Nightwing contacts Oracle to tell her that he is okay and she can call off the rescue plan she had started.
After confirming Nightwing is okay Oracle calls the Titans (Donna Troy, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Raven) and Batman to tell them that Dick is okay.
Oracle calls Nightwing back and tells him to keep his communication channel open just in case.
Nightwing then tells Melinda that they should talk. Melinda says that she has someone Nightwing should meet but first should change unless he wants to reveal his identity to more people.
After changing Melinda introduces Dick to her mother (Meili Lin). Meili comments on how Dick looks exactly like his parents.
Meili then reveals her history to Dick that started with Tony Zucco buying her and bringing her to the United States when she was 23 years old. With how possessive and violent Tony Zucco was Meili took the first chance she had while attending Haley’s Circus to run away. Tony ran after her but couldn’t find her.
Instead, Tony Zucco ran into John Grayson. Tony demands John to tell him where Meili is but John has no idea who that is. When Tony holds John up at gunpoint Mary Lloyd shows up and helps John disarm Tony. Ivan the Strongman then shows up to back up John and Mary. Before things escalate even more Mr. Haley appears and tells Tony that the circus is closed and he should leave.
As Tony walks away John gives Tony a stuffed bear as a “gift.”
Once Tony is gone John goes back into his trailer to tell a frighten Meili that Tony is no longer around. Meili and John then properly introduce themselves to each other. John tells Meili that she can stay with Haley’s Circus if she chooses.
Time passes and Meili finds herself enjoying her time working in Haley’s Circus. During this time she grows a strong connection with John and Mary. Because John and Mary held each other on a pedestal they were not together at the time.
Meili and John ended up going out for a short time until one day during a tour stop in Star City Tony ended up finding Meili. Tony had his men take Meili away. When John discovered Meili was taken he was knocked out by Tony. Tony then stomped on John’s hand to send him a message.
While John looked for Meili he was unsuccessful in finding her because Tony had her move permanently to Bludhaven.
Six months later Meili would give birth to Melinda Zucco. As Tony suspect that Melinda was John’s daughter and not his as time passed Tony grew angrier with Meili and Melinda.
One day during Melinda’s adolescence Meili heard that Haley’s Circus was making a tour stop in Bludhaven. Meili decided this was a chance to introduce Melinda to her real dad. When Meili and Melinda got to Haley’s Circus they were both surprised to find John and Mary married and raising Dick Grayson together. Meili decided against meeting John and Mary again and introducing Melinda to her real dad as to not interrupt what the Grayson family had.
As more time passed Meili continued to try to find courage to meet John again but before she could Tony had John and Mary killed.
In the present Dick realizes that there was more to why Tony Zucco targeted his parents then he knew. Meili apologizes to Dick for what happened to his parents and asks if he has been able to live a good life and find people who love him. Dick says he has had a good life and has found people who he loves and loves him back.
Meili then speaks on how happy she is that Melinda and Dick were able to meet each other. Meili then mentions how proud she is that Melinda is the new Mayor of Bludhaven. Dick internally thinks of how Meili doesn’t know about Melinda’s criminal dealings.
Later while being walked out Dick asks Melinda if she has told her mom the truth about who she really is. Melinda fires back saying Dick doesn’t know who she is.
Before they can get any further the Bludhaven Police Department show up outside Melinda’s apartment with Blockbuster leading them. End of issue.
The Good: Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and company have continuously put on a clinic of how to write a compelling narrative with their work on Nightwing. The latest entry in their run is no different as Nightwing #82 fully delivers on the potential that came with Melinda Zucco’s massive bombshell to Dick Grayson at the end of the previous issue.
What is amazing about the storytelling is how natural every portion of the story comes across. The opening sets that tone with how Nightwing stops Oracle from sending Batman and the Titans on a rescue mission. Seeing Batman and all the Titans does an effective job to show how important Nightwing is to everyone that they dropped everything to save him when they heard he was MIA. It also speaks to Barbara Gordon as Oracle having such plans in place. This all added to how Barbara and those in Dick Grayson’s life did learn from the recent Ric Grayson saga to be there for him right away when he is in trouble.
This opening scene also worked to elevae the rest of Nightwing #82 to have a sense of tension as we didn’t actually know what was about to go down. Melinda Zucco revealing to Dick Grayson that she is in fact his sister made her into the biggest wild card of this series. There was no telling where Taylor and company would go with this reveal. That sense of mystery was a consistent feeling that was had throughout this issue.
And it speaks to Taylor’s talents as a storyteller that Melinda Zucco being Dick Grayson sister isn’t something that rewrites the Grayson Family history. Instead, Taylor has this reveal add John and Mary Grayson’s history before they were married and raised Dick at Haley’s Circus. As Meili Lin told her story and how it connects to the Graysons we got even greater insight into the good people that both John and Mary were. In the process the backstory actually adds to what their relationship grew to be.
Meili Lin’s own backstory is weaved in perfectly into the Grayson’s. It was a major relief that we weren’t dealing with some cheating story that added unneeded family drama. Instead Meili is able to explain to Dick how both John and Mary, before they ever got together, saved her from Tony Zucco’s. The way her story was executed made you really understand why Meili held her time at Haley’s Circus and bond with John so highly. It made her story even more tragic, and by extension Melinda Zucco’s as well, that Tony Zucco in the horrible human being he was that he would kidnap her when he found her location.
Reading about her entire backstory put you in Dick Grayson’s own mindset in believing Meili’s entire backstory. Like Dick, you want Meili to be able to be happy for Melinda Zucco and wouldn’t want to reveal Melinda’s criminal ties. All of this being accomplished in one issue shows how great the writing is as Meili comes across as a fully fleshed out character by the end of her backstory.
Meili’s backstory further sets up Melinda’s part in the greater narrative Taylor is developing in Nightwing to be even more intriguing. At least right now, it seems as though Melinda is caught in a tough circumstance with her ties to Blockbuster and the rest of Bludhaven’s criminal underground. While it does come across as that way right now we are still left with a sense of doubt since we haven’t really seen what her plans really are.
This all makes the dynamic that Dick and Melinda will share as siblings something to keep an eye out for. The ending of Nightwing #82 with Blockbuster showing up with the Bludhaven Police Department sets things up for what the resolution here to dictate how Dick and Melinda’s relationship could go. Especially considering Melinda’s job as Mayor of Bludhaven and Dick actively fighting criminals Melinda is working with as Nightwing there are a lot of questions that come to mind.
While I am not normally a fan of multiple artists working on a single issue Bruno Redondo, Rick Leonardi, and Neil Edwards made it work with Nightwing #82. Specifically having each artists handle different time periods added to how we were getting backstory on John and Mary Grayson as Meili shared her story with Dick Grayson. The different art for the present and past made the storytelling better because we were getting a look at a completely different era from where we are now. And credit to Adriano Lucas for having the color palette tie all the art styles together so Nightwing #82 still looks like one cohesive package.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Nightwing #82 is a masterclass in storytelling. Tom Taylor and company do a fantastic job having Melinda Zucco’s bombshell expand on the Grayson Family history in a way that makes you care even more about everyone involved. It creates even greater interest in what Dick Grayson’s future is as Nightwing and Bludhaven citizen. If you aren’t reading Nightwing do yourselves a favor and change that immediately. Nightwing is a comic book everyone should be reading.
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