Nightwing 2021 Annual #1 – Tom Taylor, Writer; Cian Tormey, Daniel HDR, Artists; Raul Fernandez, Inker; Rain Beredo, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Tom Taylor’s Nightwing is so good, he can even overcome the bizarre fact that this is now the third story within the last few months to have a member of the Bat-family wrongly accused of being a murderer. This time it’s Jason Todd’s turn, which wouldn’t be a surprise—except that Jason just put down his guns for good, and now he’s on camera assassinating a federal witness and the officers escorting him. While Red Hood is now public enemy #1, Nightwing feels something doesn’t add up to this and goes to search out Jason at his lair. After some brief investigation, he’s able to clear his brother—and now they have to figure out how this bizarre frame-up is possible and whether they can work together long enough to solve the mystery.
The present-day segment is good, but the flashback to Jason’s early days as Robin is fantastic. This is just after Dick has been fired as Robin and become Nightwing, and he’s cooling his heels at Titans Tower whole stewing over Bruce. Alfred asks him to come home to talk to Jason, who’s just been benched and left behind while Bruce is out of town. This quickly leads to a Nightwing/Robin teamup, including stealing the Batmobile and foiling an attempted hostage-taking. But this book does better than any I’ve seen at representing the coiled, wounded rage that young Jason is bottling up. Bruce isn’t really able to get to the bottom of it, but Dick gives Jason some impromptu therapy that actually helps.
In the present day, the resolution of the mystery isn’t a big shock—there are only so many villains who could pull this off, and one is basically a legacy in its own right. But the revelation isn’t the point of this—it’s how Jason and Dick are able to merge their crimefighting styles and become a better crime-fighting duo. It makes a lot of sense that Dick is the first Bat to truly reach out to Jason and welcome him back, because he’s always been the Bats’ best bridge out of their limited circle. While the plot here doesn’t break new ground, the characterization for the two leads is fantastic and I’m hoping Taylor gets to do spotlights for all the Bat-family members going forward.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.