Nightwing: Rebirth #1
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn
Lettering by Carlos Mangual
Published by DC Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Tim Seeley and Yanick Paquette shine a little light back into the brooding Bat-Family with Nightwing: Rebirth #1, a densely packed introductory issue that firmly places Dick Grayson back in the blue and black while bidding a fond farewell to Grayson, Agent of Spyral.
Writer Tim Seeley uses a substantial percentage of this issue's page-count to bid farewell to Grayson's supporting cast; whisking us from Florida to Gotham to St. Hadrian's School for Girls for Dick to bid farewell to his unmasked life as a secret agent. The Parliament of Owls flex their muscles here as the hidden big bads of the issue, immediately reestablishing themselves with an even darker new outlook than usual. Seeley retains Grayson's themes of espionage and intrigue with Dick's uneasy affiliation to the parliament, cherry-picking the best elements of Dick's many guises to create the ultimate incarnation of the first Robin.
The big brother/little brother dynamic between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne has been a winning combination ever since Grant Morrison introduced it in 2009's Batman & Robin, and it positively shines here. It's refreshing to see the youthful Damian act like an actual child instead of the pint-sized weapon he is so often pigeon-holed as. It's a delight to see Dick enable Damian's penchant for games of Cheese Viking at the Secret Headquarters arcade, with Dick Grayson acting as a firm father figure who adds the element of fun to Damian's life that he lacks under Bruce's care.
Seeley is very confident with Dick's voice, interlacing wisdom with witticism in equal measure. His relationship with Huntress is eloquently summed up as “... a Chinese finger trap made of Ikea instructions.” Of course, Batman himself and Helena both make brief appearances here, lending a bit of Gotham darkness to Dick's otherwise sunny disposition. Until recently, Dick Grayson has always lived in the shadow of the Bat. Seeley expends a lot of effort framing Grayson's return to the Nightwing moniker as a step forward. No longer a faceless spy in black or hidden under the heavy cowl of Batman, Nightwing is back. By stressing that the origins of the Nightwing moniker are in the hands of Superman (thanks to Kryptonian legends Nightwing and Flamebird), Seeley firmly places Nightwing smack-dab in the middle of the two extremes of Gotham and Metropolis.
Visually, Yanick Paquette's flat yet animated figures comfortably communicate the emotional beats of Seeley's story. His lines are purposefully minimalist, allowing himself room to elaborate with inked brush strokes that really make his characters pop with definition. Atop Paquette's confident pencils and ink-work, blue and black dominates Nathan Fairbairn's color palette. He brightens things up with a vivid skin tone and heavy splashes of color; especially for the issue's eye-catching opening splash page that captures Grayson in mid-battle with the surreal Madmen.
Between Tim Seeley's satisfying story and Yanick Paquette's clear and emotive lines, Nightwing Rebirth #1 is a bit special. Seeley and Paquette have crafted a compelling and logical path for Dick Grayson to slip back into the Nightwing persona, while also serving as a fitting and respectful goodbye to the thoroughly successful Grayson. Another well-executed new start for Dick Grayson.