Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nightwing, Volume 5: Setting Son

  DC closes the books on Nightwing, with NIGHTWING, VOLUME 5: SETTING SON........

  As a reader, this was a decent collection of short, unrelated stories. Viewed as a collected edition, it's kind of an unfocused mess. It's hard to blame writer Kyle Higgins, who is clearly not "Writing for the trade"....this Volume collects NIGHTWING #'s 25-30 and Annual #1, and doesn't tell a unified story, which modern trade-waiters generally expect...His storytelling reminds me of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN when I was growing up in the '70's: One or two issue arcs with continuing plotlines coming and going in the background. Which is not necessarily a bad thing...just an unusual one in this day and age. I was quite taken with this volume, despite it's scattershot nature. My main interest in reading this book was to see Nightwing's side of the hideously bad FOREVER EVIL crossover, which changed Nightwing's status quo by having him ridiculously outed as Dick Grayson on national TV by The Crime Syndicate. None of that is really addressed in this book. (More on that later.....)

 Readers who don't keep up with all of DC's endless fucking crossovers will be left scratching their heads by the opening chapter, which ties in with Batman's ZERO YEAR event, and finds a young Dick Grayson trapped in the blacked-out Gotham City on the run from Amygdala. This is a light, inconsequential story that was fun to read, but only hammers home one of my nagging complaints about "The New 52" continuity....It's basically six years old, and in that time, Bruce Wayne has burned through three Robins (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Damian Wayne), seen Grayson become Nightwing, Jason Todd die and return as The Red Hood, he conceived Damian, who was born, aged to around 10-12 years somehow, became Robin, was killed, and is now about to come back, Tim Drake was in the somewhere that I'm not at all clear about, Bruce himself had his back broken, recovered, died, came back, started Batman, Incorporated, closed it down......That's a crazy busy six years. I can't quite swallow that, and the more they shove that in my face, the more it sticks in my craw.

 Anyway, this is followed by a multi-part team-up with Batgirl, which seems ready to move their stalled relationship forward, but ends right where it began. A good read, but nothing of any consequence.

 From there. Dick moves to Chicago, where he has a series of adventures that are, again, fun to read, but somewhat disconnected.

 Then, we get to the problem with DC's crossovers in general, and their collected editions in particular. The book closes with NIGHTWING ANNUAL #1, which DC assumes will make sense to you, because how could you NOT have read FOREVER EVIL....? (DC, PUT IN A RECAP PAGE WHEN YOU COLLECT AN OUT-OF-LEFT-FIELD ISSUE LIKE THIS!!! Is it going to kill you to give the people who are spending money on your product a clue as to what's going on...? At the very least, a recap page might steer an unaware reader to the FOREVER EVIL collection, and make you some more money.......) The book leaps past the entire FOREVER EVIL crossover, and tells you nothing except that Nightwing was abducted and outed as Dick Grayson. The fallout is not addressed, Dick seems to think his life can continue as normal, and Batman acts like an asshole, which drives me nuts.

 First off, comic book publishers need to actually THINK THINGS THROUGH when they make a character's identity public. Marvel did it with Spider-Man, in what could have been a compelling story, until they MADE THE DEVIL ERASE EVERYONE'S MEMORY OF IT EVER HAPPENING!!! (Because they didn't think it through...) DC commits the same sin here......Want to reveal Nightwing's identity...? Great! But THINK IT THROUGH.....I'm no detective, but if I saw on the news that Dick Grayson was revealed to be Nightwing, I'd immediately say "Hey! He was adopted by Bruce Wayne! Wayne is loaded! Batman has a lot of expensive gadgets! He adopted him when he was little, and that's when Robin first appeared!!! HOLY SHIT, BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN!!! And wait!! Grayson used to date a redhead!! Batgirl is a redhead....BARBARA GORDON IS BATGIRL!!!" These people, and all of their loved ones, would immediately be targeted. THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED...it's not. Instead, Batman acts like an asshole, and he and Dick beat the fuck out of each other in some kind of "Test" to see how Nightwing is doing after his ordeal at The Crime Syndicate's hands. Running someone through their paces is a test. Beating them until they're covered with blood and cut to shreds is being an asshole. This is Batman being an asshole. Which I can't stand. (In his defense, Kyle Higgins did not write the annual, which is fucking awful and ridiculous.) This sets up Dick Grayson's new status quo, which I have no interest in sticking around for, so goodbye and good luck, Dick. It was nice knowing you!

 Overall, this is a decent read, aside from the hideous final chapter, which you should leave unread. NIGHTWING, VOLUME 5: SETTING SON collects NIGHTWING #'s 25-30 and Annual #1, complete with all covers and variants.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.