First Bludhaven, then Gotham, and now, the Isle of Harm! Dick Grayson finds himself in a race for the lives of his friends and against the very course itself. And if he didn’t have enough to worry about, at least one of the racers is trying to take him out of the running, permanently! Start your engines and let’s check out Nightwing #48 from DC Comics.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colors: Nick Filardi
Cover: Mike Perkins & Dave McCag, Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 5th, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Nightwing: Nightwing’s mission to take out the Dark Web has lead him to Gotham City and the newsroom of Gotham Four News. Reuniting with Vicki Vale, he uncovers the reason for their Dark Web problems, but encounters the wretched Karna Shifton, the face of The Feed. But when Shifton unveils her Dark Web persona of Vire, she fights Nightwing to a standstill. But when it is revealed that the Dark Web has kidnapped Vicki Vale and Willem Cloke, Dick Grayson must agree to promote the Dark Web’s agenda, or his friends will be terminated like a bad program.
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNIN’
With the lives of Vale and Cloke on the line, Nightwing arrives on Diobhail, the Irish island known as The Isle of Harm, to participate in a race for one of the greatest prizes every conceived. At the wheel of his new semi-truck mounted Batcave on wheels, he is about to participate in a motorcycle race along one of the most dangerous courses in all of creation! Arriving at The Pathfinder bar, Nightwing announces to the goblin? The entry process, drinking the fermented blood of the druid who paved the road thousands of years ago. It’s a concoction so vile that it caused Nightwing to have a coughing fit, one which saves his life as a bullet narrowly misses his head, and takes out a bar patron beside. During the ensuing bar fight, his attacker disappears, and Nightwing himself narrowly escapes the melee to arrive at the starting line moments before the race it to commence. But once the race is underway, Nightwing realizes that the course is more than dirt and pavement, and has changing paths which lead to multiple routes and even into, apparently, other dimensions. Now he must fight his mysterious assailant, old foes, and even the course itself, in an effort to win a race he must not win.
HEAD OUT TO THE HIGHWAY
Continuing with another branch in his story of Nightwing versus technology gone mad, Benjamin Percy (James Bond: Black Box, Green Arrow) takes a swerve buy adding a mystical aspect into the battle against Dark Web. The premise of the race and the prize is intriguing. , but seems a little odd with what has come before in previous issues. Percy has set up Dark Web, Wyrm and Vire as purely technological villains who use that technology to control the masses and meet their goals. By teaming Nightwing with Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon, you had an anchor in that world of technology. Here, in this initial chapter of a new story arc, you have no anchor. The story itself seems to not be sure of its direction or its aim. Are taking a cosmic direction, or is it mystical? It’s hard to tell. Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but there is such an odd feel to this issue that you can’t get a comfortable feel on where it is going. The idea is there, a sort of Death Race 2000, but in context with the overall story, it feels lacking. Additionally, you don’t get a lot of set up. I should not have had to go back and read three issues of this to know that the bad guy kidnapped the good guy’s friends and is blackmailing him to gain access to all the knowledge in the world. The inclusion of guest-star The Silencer on the cover is strange at this juncture and is really barely even a cameo with a promise of more to come. But while the overall premise fuzzy, Percy writes Nightwing well. His voice is consistent and his characterization is intact. Despite the high stakes, it seems that Grayson is still going to tackle it with his well-known wit and charm, and Percy has that aspect of Nightwing down pat.
The artwork for the issue is wonderful. Amancay Nahuelpan (Calexit, Clandestino) has a solid grasp of panel structure and perspective. There are great little details in the background, a firm feel of continuity from page to page. He takes full advantage of the idea of this race being a “center of the universe” affair, and there are some very nice shots found throughout. Check out the bar scenes and see how many characters you can pick out, and how many of them were inspired by what properties. Overall, it looks great, and I’d love to see him on a DC Cosmic style book.
BOTTOM LINE: LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE? THIS MIGHT BE AN INTERESTING PATH
I’m a fan of Nightwing from back in the Teen Titan day of high collars and romantic entanglements. His character has always been one that seemed to be able to traverse different story genres and not feel too forced. This issue, however, from the concept of the race and its presentation, seems flawed. Nightwing is almost an every-hero who can fit nearly any situation. Here I kept expecting him to break the fourth wall and pull a Deadpool. The story is intriguing and while it may be too early to really judge it, confused me as a reader, even with after I obtained knowledge of what had come prior. That said, the artwork is very well done, and is that saving grace to a story which otherwise may have floundered under its own weight. Overall, it keeps your attention and makes you wonder where the next turn will take it. I enjoyed Percy’s issues up to this point, and hope that feeling returns.
Nightwing #48 flounders a little under the shift in tone from previous issues, but may be able to pull itself out and be seen as a solid start. If you’ve enjoyed Percy’s writing before this, I encourage you to stick around.