The target on Dick Grayson’s back has continued to grow as more people in power are targeting him in order to stop the work he is doing with The Alfred Pennyworth Foundation he created. Thankfully for Dick Grayson he has some super powerful friends as the Titans and Batman Family have his back against all the dangerous people coming after him. Between his work with The Alfred Pennyworth Foundation and still helping out in Gotham City, Dick Grayson has been a busy guy. So busy that he seems to forgotten about the promise he made to Clark Kent about keeping an eye out for Jon Kent. Now it looks like that promise is something that will be remembered as Nightwing and Superman team up. How will these Super Sons team-up work out? Let’s find out with Nightwing #89.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Years ago Batman and Nightwing track down where Jon Kent, who got lost when first using his flying powers, is hiding. They contact Superman and he immediately rushes to check on his son.
In the present, over at the Fortress of Solitude, Jon Kent talks about how he feels responsible for the two people he wasn’t able to save during a monster attack in Metropolis. Clark Kent reassures his son that he did all he could and there are many whose lives were saved because of Jon. That does not make Jon feel better about the two lives lost and says he would like to be alone.
Over in Bludhaven Kelex wakes up Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. Kelex mentions that Clark told him that if he notice Jon in trouble to seek out Dick Grayson’s help. Dick remembers the promise he made to Clark (see Nightwing #83) and tells Barbara he is going check on Jon in the morning after a business meeting he has.
Over in Metropolis, Risk is drowned to death by three super powered villains.
In another part of Metropolis Jay Nakamura tells Jon about a meeting he has. After joking that its with Lex Luthor, Jay gives Jon a mask so he can join in the meeting.
On the floating headquarters of The Truth, Dick meets with Gossamer and Jon. Dick compliments Gossamer on his work with The Truth and is looking to help with some additional funding. Before they can continue their discussion Aerie and Wink show up and reveal that Risk was found dead in Metropolis Harbor. Dick decides to leave to check things out and whispers to the masked Jon to meet up.
Later, Superman meets up with Nightwing at the crime scene where Risk’s body was found. Oracle contacts Nightwing to let him know that a hero in Brazil and Spain were also found dead. Superman uses his X-Ray Vision to find a strange energy signature in the area.
Nightwing and Superman follow the energy signature to Lexcorp. End of issue.
The Good: With how close Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent’s families are it was important that even before this team up between Nightwing and Jon Kent’s Superman happened that we saw that history tapped into. That is exactly what Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo as they quickly establish a history that feels like a natural part of the DCU continuity as we see that Dick Grayson did meet Jon Kent when he was a kid. That framing was important in establishing the tone for this team-up story where Dick Grayson assumes a big brother role for Jon, as he has done for many other characters in the DCU.
Establishing that also properly set up how even as Jon has taken on the role of being Superman he is still growing into the superhero his parents believe he can be. We see that with how Jon still takes it hard when he isn’t able to save everyone. Jon still isn’t able to compartmentalize what is and what isn’t out of his control as he believes he should be able to save everyone and when he doesn’t he is a failure. Clark trying to provide a voice of reason for why Jon shouldn’t beat himself up over this drove the large Grand Canyon-size gulf in experience with being Superman they both have.
This scene in the Fortress of Solitude also further highlighted how Clark Kent isn’t used to mentoring others. As Superman, Clark has been a great inspiration for the superhero community and others in the universe but when it comes to being a mentor he has very little experience. That lack of experience shows itself as he isn’t able to fully read the room in what to say to Jon in this conversation. Instead, Clark falls into the trapping up just being a supportive father rather than mentor that Jon actually needed in this moment.
The scene between Clark and Jon helped to set-up how this team-up is going to be as much about Dick Grayson being a mentor as it is a big brother to Jon. As another son with a father who is seen as the greatest ever Dick and Jon can relate to each other a lot. Which will make the words of advice that Dick as Nightwing gives to Jon even more important as this team-up develops. We already see hints of it in Nightwing #89 as Dick makes sure to subtly help Jon in how to discover evidence at the crime scene of Risk’s death without being preachy about it. Nightwing gives Superman his own agency with how they are working together as equals.
Lex Luthor being responsible for the super people going around the world killing heroes further pushes the current narrative around the villain. As we see over in the current Batman story arc, Lex has been busy with developing several different plans in how to attack the superhero community. Here it looks like Lex has developed his own metahuman team to take out the heroes. The metahumans in his employ look to have similar powers to Superman, which wouldn’t be surprising if that is the case given Lex’s history.
It was also good to see that Taylor is self-referential with this team-up happening six issues after Dick made the promise to Clark to watch out for Jon. Between things going on in Bludhaven and Gotham City its understandable that Dick hasn’t had the time to check up on Jon in Clark’s absence. Its this type of handling that helps build trust that Taylor will make sure to address every sub-plot that he is setting up in his run on Nightwing.
As with his work over on Superman: Son of Kal-El, Taylor does a good job with continuing to develop Jon’s relationship with Jay Nakamura. Jon is so on edge that he needs Jay to help him loosen up, as is the case with the joke Jay says that stuns Jon about meeting with Lex. Adding these light hearted moments between Jon and Jay helps strengthen the supportive relationship they are building together.
Bruno Redondo does a lot of great work in Nightwing #89, as is the norm with all of his artwork. The choice of using the New 52 designs for Batman, Nightwing, and Superman’s costume for the opening flashback was a great visual storytelling to show this taking place years ago. Jon’s current character arc also was showcased with how he is shown with a wide array of emotions depending on the scene he was in. From feeling depressed after his talk with his father to being Superman during his team-up with Nightwing you see how there is a lot going on in Jon’s head at the moment through the artwork.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Nightwing #89 was a great start to the team-up between Dick Grayson and Jon Kent. The opening of this issue properly set-up the tone for the rest of this issue as Nightwing takes on a mentor role for Superman. How their dynamic develops as they look for answers behind the ones responsible for the deaths of several superheroes will be interesting to see play out.