Written by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Marcio Takara
A palate cleanser. Sometimes after a long, emotional story arc there is a need for a palate cleansing story. Something that marks the transition from one arc to another, or from an existing norm to the new norm. Issue #9 is exactly this. After the personal arc that wrapped up in issue #8, writer Tim Seeley uses this issue as a transition. Issue #8 was exciting and emotional, concluding the past few months of story and challenging Dick Grayson at a personal level. Here Seeley taps into that emotional turmoil to script an issue that allows Dick Grayson to wrestle with the personal feelings of loss related to the numerous events that have happened in the wake of DC’s Rebirth.
Nightwing is being haunted by Dr. Destiny who is feeding on his fears. Dr. Destiny is a JLA villain that has been around since the 1960’s, but here his powers are being harnessed by the evil organization, KOBRA, who is looking for revenge on Nightwing. Honestly, that plot is simply a device to allow the new/old pre-New 52 Superman to bond with Nightwing and for Nightwing to work through his emotions relating to the loss of Tim Drake and the New 52 Superman. Those past few sentences are a mouthful, but at its’ core this issue is here to remind Nightwing that he is not alone in his fight.
Steeley message of support by those living and those who have passed, is valuable as many readers enter the holiday season. It is often easy for super hero comics to serve as escapism, and it is frequently a rewarding form of escapism where evil doesn’t prosper for long and good ideas triumph in the end. Nightwing #9 provides a reminder to any reader that they are not alone. Friends and loved ones my no longer be alive, but their love and support can live on in meaningful ways.
That meaningful message is at the core of this light-hearted issue. After the gritty art of Javier Fernandez during the Raptor storyline, Marcio Takara’s art reflects a lighter tone. Takara’s blocky character may lack some of the definition of previous issues, but the style works well here. Takara’s style provides a warmth and charm that is carried out through the teamwork and friendship in Seeley’s script.
This stand alone story provides both a transition to the next phase of Nightwing’s story and a palate cleanser for the stories that came before. A new reader could easily jump into this issue and enjoy, and that is difficult to do when DC is publishing issues every two weeks.
The story creates a rationale for Nightwing to return to Bludhaven, which may be the most lasting impact Nightwing #9 has on the character. But the story’s positive message about support and grief may last a lot longer with certain readers. The issue itself carries a positive message, but is ultimately not essential.