Review: Nightwing #21 (2016)

With special guest-star: The Flash!

Written by Michael McMillian and Tim Seeley, Art by Christian Duce

With DC finally moving Dick Grayson away from his current, amnesia induced, 'Ric Grayson' persona back to the Nightwing we all know and love, I think it's a good time to look at an older but still fairly recent Nightwing issue. The Ric Grayson story arc has been a slog too many (which I think is in large part due to 'Ric Grayson' being a very unlikable character but that's a discussion for another day) so the return of Dick is exciting to many comic fans. I didn't want to look at just any 'proper' Nightwing issue though, the one I've singled out is more of a shared feature with another character DC has done dirty recently. Nightwings fellow Titan and best friend, Wally West AKA the Flash.

Let's dive in.

The issue starts with Nightwing on patrol and preventing a woman from a getting robbed and beaten. The situation takes an unexpected turn though when the woman pulls out a gun and fires it on the already detained would-be robber, but the bullet is plucked out of the air by the timely arrival of the fastest man alive, the Flash. After the police have arrived on the scene, the two decide to skip patrol for the night and have a boys night out. When coming out of a movie theatre they, and everyone around them, are robbed from their valuables in the blink of an eye. Wally senses something is off about physics through his connection with the Speed-force, and they quickly suit-up to find this time-stopping thief.

The first thing that came to mind when I finished the issue was how just how pleasant of a read it is. There's no conflict between Dick and Wally, the villain is handled with relative ease and there's a lot of fun banter. Yeah, the basic premise is nothing special, pretty bland actually, but that's not the issue's focus. That's on the team-up between Nightwing and Flash and the book handles this wonderfully. From their individual characterization to their banter to how they work together to take down the bad guy, it's all very well done. Michael McMillian and Tim Seeley really convey the bond between these two even if you, don't know Wally, Dick or both very well. The book is written in such a way that you can easily follow what's going on and learn enough about both characters to get a sense for who they are. Such a thing is trickier than you might think, so on that merit alone I would recommend this book for beginning Nightwing (and comic) readers

When it comes to the art, action and writing style they are all pretty good. The action, while not plentiful, is well done and gets the point across and the art is nice as well even though I do think that the artist should have eased up on the shading. The heavy shadows that are everywhere in the issue make some panels feel kind off sombre and clash with the tone of the issue at times. I feel this is an intentional decision from Christian Duce so he doesn't have to draw to much detail but when this shading is applied to the faces especially it just doesn't look right, in my opinion at least.

The shadows around the eyes make them look off.

While the issue is very much a stand-alone instalment, it's not part of any larger story arc, it does address some plot threats so if you're not that interested in the Dick/Wally dynamic there's something for you here as well. You get a better sense of where Dick and Wally currently stand in their lives and the final page gives a tease for what's to come in the next story arc, which the thief also ties into.

Conclusion

It's clear that the point of the issue is to simply act as filler between two story arcs, but it focuses on the friendship and chemistry between Dick and Wally while being a fun, easy read, which it all does very well. Nightwing #21 is a good book and as a more standalone instalment of the series, it's a good entry point for new readers. It's light tone, combined with the jokes and the ease of its premise makes it easy to just sit down, relax and enjoy what you're reading.

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