Sadly, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is another misfire in DC’s Rebirth line. And you know something? That really bothers me. There was a time when Nightwing used to be one of DC’s best titles, but based on this issue it’s hard to recommend following it because it seems so unfocused.
Dick Grayson returns to his old “secret identity” of, well, Dick Grayson. Through a series of flashbacks and some stuff in the present, we learn that he’s wrapped up some of his less-than-stellar recent activities and has a couple of new ones on the go. From a blatant tie-in with the new Birds Of Prey series to spending time with Damian Wayne, there’s a real mixed bag going on.
The central story – what there is of it – involves a roundabout way of telling us that Damian Wayne has a bomb in his brain which was implanted there by the Court of Owls. That means that Nightwing/Dick Grayson/Agent 37 has been travelling the globe locating and acquiring a device to remove the bomb. Basically, it’s a party-favour whistle with a balloon attached, and Nightwing has to jam it up Damian’s nostril.
And that’s pretty much it. With brief cameos from Midnighter, Batman and Huntress, the eventual reveal of his (old) new costume and unveiling a bold new direction and a return, you’d imagine it could be a winner.
The art in Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is certainly decent enough, but the storytelling leaps around too much as it tries to resolve plot threads. The dialogue is clunky, with chunks of exposition so large it’s almost nonsensical. Like Damian Wayne’s brain-bomb, for instance. We didn’t know it existed before, it gets resolved in a page with no physical harm done, and it’s over. It should be a high-stakes, life-or-death scenario with risks and tension, and instead nothing happens. So what was the point?
When it was at its best, what made Nightwing work was its combination of action, detective work, and characters with heart whom you cared about whether they were in costume or not. Instead, this is more like a point-and-click adventure game, with dull characters just going through the motions. There’s a lot going on, to be sure, but it just isn’t anything worthwhile. Whatever the new direction is which lies ahead, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be anywhere near what it should be.
Maybe that’s the problem, the bar was set so high years ago that there’s a lot to live up to. Nightwing is a great character, far more interesting than Batman, and the stories used to be a joy to read. Anything less than that is going to seem weak. Should readers lower their standards to enjoy this more? No, surely not. Personally, I’d rather see the creators come up with something better.
Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is a disappointing issue, telling a tale as flat as the paper it’s printed on. Hopefully, it’ll improve.