The end of “The Battle For Bludhaven’s Heart” is finally here. And it is all going to come down to a fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster in the middle of a burning Haven. With the community, he has built to make Bludhaven a better place for everyone to live now burning down can Nightwing defeat Blockbuster in time to save everyone? Or is Bludhaven about to get even worse after Blockbuster found out the truth about Dick Grayson being Nightwing? Let’s find out with Nightwing #96.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Inker: Caio Filipe
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
After asking Oracle to help Batwoman save Haven from burning down instead of coming to help him Nightwing puts his mask back on and fights Blockbuster inside the burning library. Nightwing uses his agility advantage to land multiple blows on Blockbuster while avoiding Blockbuster’s big attacks.
As that is going on Oracle contacts Nightwing to let him know that the people of Bludhaven are helping to save the Haven community.
Oracle and Batwoman then stop Brutale and Electrocutioner from interfering in the Nightwing vs Blockbuster fight by showing them a specific video that stuns them both.
Back inside the burning library, Blockbuster is finally able to strike Nightwing with a strong punch. Nightwing quickly recovers and kicks Blockbuster hard enough to send Blockbuster flying out of the library and into the streets.
Noticing he is surrounded by Oracle, Batwoman, and Haven’s residents Blockbuster makes a run for it. When he tries to get a ride from his minions Brutale and Electrocutioner to reveal that they now know that Blockbuster owned the private prison they were both previously locked up in. They drive off while flipping off Blockbuster.
Oracle then finds Nightwing inside the library after the fire has been put out. Dick Grayson tells Barbara Gordon that they can’t be together because his life as a superhero will mean she is always in danger. Barbara calls him out on this saying they both live the superhero life and that they are allowed to be happy together. After both say how happy they are with each other Dick and Barbara kiss.
In another part of Bludhaven, Blockbuster is cornered by Heartless in an alleyway. Heartless states Bludhaven is their city now and kills Blockbuster by removing his heart. End of issue.
As the big blowout issue for the ongoing Blockbuster Saga Nightwing #96 is a nice conclusion for the entire story. It is not at all perfect, mostly due to how the very of the story was developed. But even with that roadblock, there is no doubt that if you’ve enjoyed this story up to this point Nightwing #96 won’t disappoint, and I definitely fall in that camp.
What makes Nightwing #96 such an effective end is that Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo knew exactly what this had to be. Every issue up to this point has built up the rivalry between Nightwing and Blockbuster since Dick Grayson returned to Bludhaven with the mission statement of making the city a better place to live for everyone. So with all that Nightwing #96 could just be about how the build-up fueled Nightwing and Blockbuster to make their final fight as intense as possible.
Even as intense as the rivalry is Taylor did a great job showing that Nightwing understood the bigger picture. While having Oracle or Batwoman help him out would’ve made the fight easier it would have been to the detriment of saving Haven from burning down. Keeping an eye out for Haven, and by extension Bludhaven as a whole, showed that Nightwing’s main concern through all of this is the people. He wanted to make sure that everyone was safe first and foremost.
That made the fight have even more weight to Nightwing going at it alone. And as we’ve seen with Batman, this showed how Nightwing was able to overcome what Blockbuster tried to do in his final gamble against Bludhaven’s hero. The entire pacing of the fight worked well to both characters’ strengths as it was a battle of Nightwing’s fighting skills and speed against the brute force that was Blockbuster. Redondo did a great job showcasing both fighters and put over how as the fight went on it was Nightwing’s ability to dodge almost all but one heavy attack that helped him win without major injury.
Complimenting the fight was how we saw across Haven that the community that has been built came together in a way Blockbuster never thought they could. The scene with Oracle finding all the people helping to put out the fire showed how far this entire arc of Dick Grayson building Haven has come. It all made what was Blockbuster’s ultimate downfall is his lack of belief in the people because of his power that came back to bite him. This made him running away not from Nightwing, Oracle, or Batwoman but from the citizens of Bludhaven a strong visual.
Adding to all of this was how Oracle and Batwoman revealed to Brutale and Electrocutioner that Blockbuster owned Bludhaven’s private prison they were previously locked up in. It was yet another example of how Blockbuster was his own worst enemy as in his desire for power and control of every aspect of Bludhaven secretly made everyone, hero, villain, and normal person, his enemy. Once that secret was out it all came back to bite him an excellent bit off payoff, including how Redondo used censoring in Brutale and Electrocutioner flipping Blockbuster off while driving away.
The one aspect of Blockbuster’s ultimate downfall that did not work was the role Heartless played at the very end of Nightwing #96. Heartless is a villain that Taylor just never spent meaningful time developing. There have been so many other things that Taylor’s Nightwing run has been involved with, such as Fear State and crossover with Superman, that Heartless was lost in the shuffle. When he reappeared here there was nothing felt except that it was Taylor’s way so that Blockbuster doesn’t reveal Dick Grayson is Nightwing to the world. This in turn makes Heartless nothing more than a cheap plot device instead of the next big villain Nightwing and the Batman Family will have to deal with.
On a more positive note, we finally got the payoff to all the build-up of whether Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon would make their relationship official or not. Barbara calls out Dick falling into the common trope of the superhero deciding their love interest would be in danger if they were in a relationship was needed. In calling out the trope Taylor was able to establish how both Dick and Barbara are going into this relationship understanding their respective superhero lives will put the other in danger. Them both coming to terms with what made the foundation of their relationship stronger than previous attempts.
The final fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster was an intense battle that was a great payoff for the direction of Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s run on this series. The major development in Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s relationship made Nightwing #96 an enjoyable end to “The Battle For Bludhaven’s Heart.”
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10