Nightwing #42 – Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Writer; Jorge Corona, Artist; Mat Lopes, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Robins Past and Present
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: In between Sam Humphries and Ben Percy’s run on this title, we’re getting a pair of done-in-ones by guest writers, and first up IN Nightwing #42 is Lanzing and Kelly’s samurai-inspired martial arts adventure. Narrated by Damian (in probably the first time the little twerp’s been likable in Rebirth outside of King’s book), the issue is set almost entirely inside a tower filled with ninjas and evil swordmasters in Japan. The inspiration here is clearly movies like The Raid, as the hero goes up against a never-ending wave of villains in order to get in or out and complete their mission. The villains, known as the Crimson Kabuki, have kidnapped Damian after he got captured on one of his missions of redemption (picked up from Gleason’s twelve-issue Damian solo series). However, he underestimated how strong the villains are, and has been captured. They just didn’t count on his big brother.
The majority of the issue is essentially a straight martial-arts battle, as Dick charges through one floor after another, encountering colorfully-clad villains along the way. It often feels a bit like a video game, with the “bosses” getting absolutely no characterization. But here that doesn’t matter, as they’re really just here to show off Dick’s skill and determination. What makes this issue work is that it calls back to what pre-Rebirth writers seemed to remember – Dick is as much a mentor and as much family to Damian as Bruce is, being the one who initially trained him as Robin and looked after him while Bruce was gone in time. Thus, any indications that Damian doesn’t see Dick as family (like in Detective a few issues back) are just nonsense. Dick would go through hell for the youngest Robin, and this issue shows that point off nicely. The final scene, with Damian telling the whole story to Bruce, is a perfect capper on a simple but effective one-off story.
Corrina: This story reminded me of the done-in-one-tales that this creative team wrote for Gotham City Garage, where they did a deep dive on a character to explore all their skills and showcase what makes them a hero. I loved Damian’s “fairy-tale” style narration and the between-the-lines pride he has in his big brother. Yes, it felt like reaching different levels in a video game but each challenge had unique action and was superbly portrayed by the art team.
For me, Dick is best when he’s working with others rather than alone and that’s clear here, too, as he and Damian fall into a great routine of banter and teamwork. I just might have enjoyed this more than any recent Nightwing story. (And I’m not looking forward to Percy’s run because I’ve had issues with his run of Green Arrow, so I’ll enjoy this quality story while it lasts.)
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.