Nightwing #105 features art completely from Nightwing’s first person point of view, creating an interesting but debatably distracting, visual experience. Tom Taylor’s script is solid, but Bruno Redondo’s pencils display the pros and cons of dedicating an entire issue to a single visual perspective, no matter how fun the novelty appears at first glance.
The first few pages work well within the parameters set by Redondo. Dick wakes up next to Barbara in bed before quickly being ambushed with a lick to the face by their dog, Haley. The next page features the couple in the bathroom as Dick brushes his teeth, establishing exactly whose point of view we’re in (if it wasn’t obvious), and letting the reader experience the more routine aspects of Dick’s life. Putting the reader into Dick’s shoes as the comfort of his domestic life is quickly swept away by necessary heroics is an effective use of the first person perspective. There’s some odd “acting” choices along the way though. Dick’s sister Melinda looks more angry than motivated when telling Dick about a bio-weapon having just been stolen and Barbara also has a strangely angry face on too. I like the use of reflections in these early pages to help set up the stakes and premise of the issue, but what’s the point of a first person issue if reflections are going to be used constantly?
The first two-page spread features Dick and Barbara flying through the city skyline, with both of their reflections cast on a nearby building. I understand that reflections exist, but I wanted to better fully immerse myself into Dick’s shoes without that immersion being broken. It doesn’t help that their reflection on the nearby building looks inorganic to the structure and almost as if it was pasted on. Nonetheless, there is still a visceral thrill in being in Nightwing’s point of view as he swings through the air. The first true action sequence has Dick and Barbara board a moving train to confront Aliki, one of the members of the villain duo, Double Dare. This segment works better as it captures the fun factor of this set up by taking a relatively mundane encounter and elevating it through the art. Aliki throwing a piece of a chair at Nightwing isn’t inherently a jaw dropping moment, but seeing that piece of metal fly directly at you heightens the threat.
What also works well with the visual choice is that conversations have a degree of intimacy they would otherwise not have. At its best moments, there is genuine excitement at having Barbara and Aliki speak directly to “you,” but sometimes it verges on feeling like a video game where your character has a maxed out charisma stat. Tom ups the amount of flirting between Barbara and Dick, but that gimmick runs dry quickly, especially when a random woman also flirts with Nightwing even though their office was nearly shredded with bullets a moment prior. A sense of repetition starts to creep in at these moments, displaying the downsides of imposing a limitation upon yourself. It’s hard not to think of Taylor and Redondo’s Nightwing #87 where the entire issue was one long continuous image. While that also had its downsides, the choice in perspective was more congruous with the plot at hand. Dick had to make his way across Bludhaven and the one continuous image allowed the reader to soak in the entire city while Dick navigated across it. With this issue, I’m not sure exactly what the perspective adds to the story beyond a few novel moments. I thought the issue would have something to do with identity, or deception, as the first person point of view would allow us to examine characters in a new way. Or maybe the issue would subvert expectations and reveal that we were in a different character’s point of view all along. As it stands, the story never really justifies the artistic experiment as nothing more than…an experiment.
There is some fun in the final moments as we get a brief, but effective first person fight scene as Dick and Aliki team up to save Barbara (who has already saved herself by the time they arrive). Dick decides to help Double Dare as they have been hired by the nation of Vlatava to steal a vaccine from Shel Pharmaceuticals as they are overcharging for it. That is a great motivation for our heroes to help would be villains, and the subsequent reveal that Lyle Shelton, aka Heartless himself, is the CEO is really great. Nightwing doesn’t know that Lyle is Heartless yet, so this scene was ripe to be an intense encounter. Unfortunately, the first person perspective doesn’t’ help the scene, especially as Redondo forces Dick’s reflection to be visible on the far right of the page. This creates an awkward composition as the left side of each panel is devoid of purposeful content as that’s where the dialogue bubbles are forced to be. These compositions take up essentially three pages of the book and ends the issue on a sour note by handcuffing itself. Redondo can’t use close up panels or different compositions within the environment to enhance the tension, making what should be an important scene fall limp. However, I do really like when Dick takes a sip of water, seeing the distorted reflections of Heartless and his dutiful butler, Gerald, through the glass. On paper, the storyline here takes an interesting step forward, but by the final pages I found myself distracted by the first person point of view and the lost potential the issue inherits because of it.
- The first person perspective appeals to you enough to check out the issue.
- Heartless returning is a step forward for the narrative.
- You don’t mind the constraints of a visually restricted issue.
Nightwing #105 is a fun, yet ultimately disappointing issue that doesn’t take full advantage of its visual choices. The idea of an entire issue drawn from Nightwing’s point of view is ripe for potential. However, the story at hand here is not always well suited to this perspective, leaving behind a relatively routine chapter that is equal parts enhanced and hurt by the art. I’m glad to see Tom Taylor utilize Heartless again, but the upcoming Knight Terrors event will only drag out this storyline well past its expiration date.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.