Nightwing Rebirth #1
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn
Dick Grayson should be a simple character to grasp, but as with any character who’s acquired seventy five years of baggage: he isn’t necessarily so easily boxed. He’s been Robin, Nightwing, Batman, and a spy. However, with the overriding conceit of Rebirth being to embrace that history once again, the issue deals with that accumulation of identities and history. That takes shape in the form of where Dick has been, where he is, and where he’s going. The issue in function is like a lot of other Rebirth issues a bridge between the previous status quo and the new, which in this case means this is the final Grayson issue we never quite got from the previous team.
While it may seem strange that the issue concerns itself with a defunct status quo, a lot of that carry over is necessary for Dick’s return to the role of Nightwing, which is a lot more fun than it may sound on paper. And the sorts of adventures we won’t get to see as much now that Dick is a proper superhero again (i.e beating up a Killicorn with Midnighter) serve as a contrast between his past as Robin and Batman, along with the sacrifices he had to make in order to help Bruce or save Damian, as well as the weird goodbyes that happen when you transition from one stage of your life to the next.
That all said, Tim Seeley deals with one of the greatest problems facing a Nightwing comic, which is how to let him exist in Batman’s world, but without being Batman-lite. Grant Morrison got around this problem by simply making him Batman and giving him his own bizarre rogues gallery as the Caped Crusader, Scott Snyder went a slightly different route with giving him a legacy rogue’s gallery as Batman, and the last Nightwing run ran into the problem of being an adjacent Batman book dealing with the leftovers from Scott Snyder arcs, or moving him to Chicago for five minutes. While it might not be immediately apparent, the book dealing with the Parliament of Owls from Grayson allows Seeley to marry one of the stranger retcons from a few years back with the global tone of Grayson, which as the last couple of years and even this issue prove gives him a bigger scope more befitting of a dude who’s been everywhere. This works really well, especially with the reminder that Nightwing is more than just a superhero identity, it’s a primal god of Rebirth from Krypton, Dick has roots in more places than just Gotham City.
That said, a large part of this issue is down to the art and it more than sells the promise of a higher stakes Nightwing book. Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn bring their trademark flair to this issue and it makes it stand out in contrast to so many other comics on the stands. Continuing the trend that Mikel Janin took to its extreme in Grayson, Paquette gives us plenty of reminders that Dick Grayson is a handsome superhero, as well as plenty of fan service to that effect, even with his return to the iconic Nightwing costume. Nathan Fairbairn also brings plenty to the table with the same lush colors that helped make Wonder Woman: Earth One stand out so much, it’s not often you praise a Batman-related book for being lush, or so bright, but with any luck even if this art team won’t carry over to the main book proper: it’ll set a standard for the following team. The Rebirth line has definitely done well for the Batman books, and if you’re looking for what may well be the standard bearer to that effect, look at Nightwing. “Better Than Batman” may well end up being accurate on a qualitative level.
5 out of 5 Cheese Vikings