Nightwing: Year One Review

In his eighty years of existence, Dick Grayson has held many titles and roles; acrobat, Robin the Boy Wonder, Teen Titan, various undercover identities and even Batman sometimes, but it is his identity as Nightwing that he is perhaps now most recognized for; one that was adopted nearly forty years ago.

So it does come as a surprise when it is learned that there was a long period of time between Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing, and when he would finally graduate to a title of his own. Just over a decade in fact, and it especially becomes mind boggling to think that characters such as Tim Drake Robin, Catwoman and even Azrael all got solo titles before Dick did. For a character that has such a rich history, giving him a title seemed like an obvious thing to do, especially after he left the Titans in ’93/’94.

A miniseries in 1995 would be considered his first volume, but his solo adventures did not really kick off until Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel debuted the ongoing second volume the following year. Fans of that title and creative team will tell you the first three years were absolutely electric and very much what the fanbase longed for in a solo outing by Nightwing. Dixon’s tales were exciting, exploring new territory, while still keeping Dick Grayson just within the sphere of the other Bat-titles. And Scott McDaniel’s art… was and is, absolutely kinetic, with sequences that often felt like they would leap off the page at you. Their run would eventually end and they would move onto different projects.

Dixon and McDaniel would reunite to tell two more Nightwing tales after the fact. One of those reunions would be on the Nightwing title itself, and that story would be be Nightwing: Year One.

Fans of the Dick Grayson character are familiar with the broad strokes of Nightwing’s development, but most of that history still focussed on Grayson’s time as a sidekick, and as Robin. Even his Bronze Age tales were either back-up features in the Batman titles, or shunted over to Teen Titans, where Dick was just one of many heroes with which Marv Wolfman and George Perez had to plot out page space for each month.

There was also the issue that a definitive telling of that period has never truly been done, or better put, properly defined. We knew the basics, Robin was “fired”, and Dick taking it one step further would fuel his recent failures under Batman into a new costumed identity and a new desire to prove himself to the greater superhero community. Unfortunately those early days of him being Nightwing are largely covered in Titans’ related books, and, it did not really address the time period immediately leaving the Batcave and emerging as Nightwing, in any real depth.

In six issues, Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel not only fill in those gaps, but also address the larger part of Dick’s first year in his new identity, and for some, the fan favourite “disco suit”. Surprisingly, the retcon used to justify such a wardrobe choice was done with such brilliance it actually makes the suit itself a little less ridiculous looking. Breaking away from using Batman as much as possible, we see Dick interact with the greater DC universe, and the story told becomes more enriched as a result. One or two guest appearances should not come as a surprise to most fans, but one certainly does stand-out as an interesting, and effective inclusion to the narrative.

Detractors will say that this this is just another year one concept done by Chuck Dixon. While that is a fair assessment, it does not take into account the uniqueness that this story holds. While Robin: Year One and Batgirl: Year One felt like love letters to those characters, Nightwing: Year One takes it a step further; it feels like a love letter to Nightwing and Nightwing fans, alike. If this is not a perfect piece of comic book storytelling, it is damn close.

Collects: Nightwing (Volume 2) 101-106

Son Of Batman Review

There’s an extension to the bat family in this animated movie as Bruce Wayne meets his secret son. Damian has already lucked out in the gene pool and he follows quite the legacy. With Batman as his biological father, and Talia al Ghul his Mim and in turn, R’as al Ghul being his grandfather you’d be forgiven for assuming his life would go down a certain route.

Of all the DC animated movies I’ve watched this would probably rank as last place on my list. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible but I felt like it just didn’t reach its full potential. I enjoy The League of Assassins but they didn’t come across as the huge threat they pose to be. Talia was highly sexualised and while of course its completely plausible there’s more sides to her character than just being kick ass, seeing her go all Jessica Rabbit kind of took away from her character. I felt like there were issues with the dialogue which at times made the movie seem unpolished. Lastly, Damian just comes across as hugely unlikeable. A pompous brat in fact. We often like characters who are villainous and do bad things but with Damian there just didn’t seem to be any redeeming qualities. I couldn’t help but just feel annoyed every time he was on screen.

Having said all that there were also many good things about this. The bat suit and batmobile had a real classic look which drew me back to my childhood and a Batman I’m very familiar with. I think Jason O’Mara does an ace job in bringing Batman to life once again. Alfred was pure joy and delivered many one liners which were pretty funny. I’d have to actually say this would be one of my favourite appearances from Alfred. Nightwing featured in the movie and who doesn’t love seeing Dick Grayson!! I also really enjoyed Deathstroke and his part kind of served as an introduction to him without giving us a huge backstory.

While Son of Batman isn’t the strongest DC movie out there it’s still worth a watch and hopefully serves as a set up for greater stories to come.

Earth-9 Podcast – Ep31 – Dark Multiverse

This week is another Jim and Mike comic focused episode, we discuss our newest purchases Jim’s being the first part of his Doom Patrol puzzle. Then we take a nice deep dive in the the Tales of the Dark Multiverse and the first 5 issues – Batman: Knightfall, The Death of Superman, Blackest Night, Infinite Crisis and Judas Contract!

            

Curated: 90s Superboy

Growing up as a young comic book collector in the mid 1990s, there were few people to talk to about comics. This was just as the internet was becoming public, but still quite a ways off before I would gain access to it in 1998. Out of a group of peers, there were three or four other known people who read comic books, but the majority opted for the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and Spawn; arguably far more popular to a then pre-teen than this editorialists favourite, Superman. Superman, despite the sales spike caused by the “Death of Superman” storyline, was decidedly uncool, which in a way made the character all the more special. A close friend took to liking Superboy as an alternative to Superman, and started collecting that title. This was in late 1994 or early 1995, so the Post-Crisis Superboy was still only a couple years old at this point, one driven home by the fact he still had no other name than Superboy!

Co-creators Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett were the stewards of this new Superboy for the first three or so years, giving us a number of characters, concepts and storylines that continue to be favourites to this day. This curated list, honours that, and mostly focuses on the first Kesel/Grummett run from 1993-1996. Some decent concepts came after that, and some questionable characterizations, but for anyone wanting to see this character in his original interpretation, these stories do it:

Adventures of Superman (Volume 1) 501

The first appearance of the Post-Crisis Superboy. Clone of the recently deceased Superman, he is one of four mysterious pretenders that have appeared in Metropolis. This single issue within the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline from 1993 nearly acts as a backdoor pilot to what the Kid’s first series would be. The majority of the elements, from Tana Moon, Roxy and Rex Leech and even the introduction of a new Krypto, would be established in this funny, fast paced, yet still thoughtful single issue.

Superboy: Trouble in Paradise TPB

This collection from a couple years ago collects roughly the first year of Superboy’s solo series under Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett. The majority of characters Superboy would interact with throughout their run are introduced, including King Shark, for fans of that particular character. The majority of the collection is done by Tom Grummett, but the odd fill-in still manages to fit-in with the overall youthful tone of the book. This is Superboy just his first steps out as an independent being, and that’s eventually going to have ramifications on him and those around him.

Superboy/Robin: World’s Finest Three

This two issue prestigious format mini-series is one that slips under the radar of most comic book fans, yet should not be overlooked. Co-written between Karl Kesel and Chuck Dixon, this story features the first meeting and team-up between Superboy and the third Robin, Tim Drake. Comic book fans have for years, taken for granted the friendship that developed between the Boy of Steel and the Boy Wonder, but it was one that did not occur in either of their solo series.

Facing off against Metallo and Poison Ivy, it is your typical superhero crossover fair, but still enjoyable, and even if the story does not grab you, the Tom Grummett artwork will surely make up for it!

Superboy (Volume 4) Annual 2 (November 1995)

Superboy (Volume 4) 0 gave early glimpses into Superboy’s origin back in 1994 (and is collected in Superboy: Trouble in Paradise TPB), but it is this 1995 “Year One” branded annual that gives readers more detail into the first days of Superboy’s existence. Readers finally learn of the human donor to Superboy’s creation (only to later be retconned in an unforgivable way by another writer), Cadmus is revealed to be operating after being presumed destroyed, and this half origin/half birthday tale gives the reader some rather poignant moments of a teenager already unsure of his place in the world, facing new revelations about his identity.

While Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett would return to the title a second time a few years later, their wackier take during their follow-up was not embraced by the entire fandom, and they left shortly after; closing out a lot characters and arcs that they had first developed in the process. Subsequent writers would not do the character particular justice, and by the end of the 2000s the Superboy most of us had been introduced was mostly gone; a complicated set of retcons and mischaracterization ultimately resulted in the character really losing its shine. There is hope that this list might remind the reader of a time when the Metropolis Kid took on the legacy of Superboy, and made it something truly unique.

Earth-9 Podcast – Ep30 – Wait, he doesn’t talk to fish??

Its just Jim and Mike this week talking comics, the give you their thoughts on the first Aquaman book in the New 52 ‘The Trench’, then Jim shares his thoughts on the Brian Michael Bendis run on Superman and Action Comics, Mike talks about the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman run and we find out whats next on our read list!!