Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Javier Fernandez and Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Bruce Wayne has been captured and his secret identity exposed by Raptor, the resourceful thief who worked with Nightwing to take down the Parliament of Owls and also the man who hid in the background of Grayson's childhood as his mother's protector. As Nightwing #8 opens, Nightwing speeds towards the circus to finish the fight. Writer Tim Seeley offers up a pulse-pounding slice of comickry that fully cements the diabolically clever Raptor as one of Dick Grayson’s most memorable foes, whilst penciller Javier Fernandez adeptly illustrates the intensity behind the years of festering anger that Raptor dwells in.
Seeley writes a pacey climax here, opening with an affecting flashback to Grayson and Raptor's interwoven pasts and then racing towards the villain's inevitable incarceration. Leaning heavily into narrative convention here, Seeley prefers not to reinvent the wheel but simply to spin it as fast as it can go. We’ve seen all the important beats of this issue in many a Bat-book before, but that hardly detracts from how well-realized Raptor is as an antagonist. On paper, another villain from a secret past who uncovers the heroes’ secret identities seems worthy of a derisive eye-roll, but Raptor’s motivation is so believable and his voice so clear that he practically jumps from the page.
In classic Seeley fashion, Raptor sees Nightwing’s (and the whole Bat-family’s) actions through the lens of the inverted Robin Hood, placing Raptor firmly on the less-privileged side of the rich/poor divide to provide a relatable element to his anger, whilst ratcheting up the mustache twirling elements of his character to also place him comfortably within the pantheon of Bat-Family villains. You can almost feel Seeley's enthusiasm seep through the page as Raptor explains his delightfully silly death-trap, which involves a sharpened silver spoon aimed at Bruce Wayne's heart and controlled by Wayne Tech stock prices. Oh yes, Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez have created a trap that Adam West would surely have been proud to spray silver spoon repellent spray all over, which works because it's just so unrepentantly ludicrous.
Javier Fernandez's accomplished linework combine with Chris Sotomayor's stark coloring to create a real visual feast. Sotomayor isn't afraid to bust out the more extravagant shades in his palette, using neon pink as an exclamation point at the end of Nightwing's knee. Fernandez's portrait-work excels once Raptor's visor is finally smashed to reveal the gnarled face of a man who, as Nightwing puts it, is “stuck in one moment.” Indeed, it's Raptor's reaction to that insult that marks the artistic high point of the issue; a shrieking face colored entirely in red and orange and captured within a shard-like panel at the top of page. Fernandez's unique sense of perspective makes for a varied selection of panels that emphasize the changing balance of power within the issue's narrative; in one of the issues opening pages, Fernandez frames the trapped Bruce Wayne through Raptor's legs, his boots imprisoning Wayne. By the issue's climax, Raptor lies broken at the very foot of the page, crushed by the same panels that chronicle his defeat.
All in all, Nightwing #8 is a fulfilling, if inevitable, conclusion to a compelling arc. Equally successful in both art and script, Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez work within a tried-and-tested framework to produce a memorable finale to Nightwing's triumphant "Rebirth."