Written By: Tim Seeley
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Colorist: Chris Sotomayer
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Reviewed By: Kenny Apsull
When Dick Grayson took a would-be Man of Steel’s advice and left the nest for Bludhaven he thought he was getting a fresh start. He thought volunteering as a social worker would do some good, and not just for the people of a broken, decaying, city (not too far removed from Gotham… literally), but for himself. He did not expect to fall in with a youth group of former villains, and probably didn’t expect such a cold welcome from the Bludhaven Police. However, the biggest surprise must’ve been falling for Shawn Tsange; The Defacer.
In issue #15, the Bludhaven epilogue, we’re given a brief summary of the blossoming relationship between Shawn and Dick. The up’s and downs, the obstacles that being Nightwing present, and the couple’s individual interactions with respective friends. We get to see the development of their feelings for one another over the course of several months in this one issue, including Dick’s conversations with former exes Starfire and Barbara Gordon. Awkward to say the least especially the obvious jealousy brooding beneath the surface of Starfire’s preferred calm. Despite some discomfort, and a minor spat, everything seems to round out nicely for the young couple. At least it seems that way, before a rather suggestive cliffhanger leaves the reader unsure of Shawn’s fate. One thing we know for sure, Dick promised Shawn he would stay in Bludhaven.
I found the subject matter very topical. I respect Seeley’s apparent desire to tackle the subject of police corruption and brutality. The Bludhaven PD has threatened Dick, Shot at him, framed him, and continue to pursue him with extreme prejudice. Perhaps this is a suggestion that Vigilantism is only becoming increasingly relevant in the real world. Bludhaven feels like a more modern reflection of a major American city than its sister, Gotham.
This issue serves as a pleasant surprise ending to an arch that seemed to be leading Nightwing down a darker path than before. Nightwing has always excelled as an individual, A loner. Having said that, this issue beautifully illustrates (again, literally) the low place friendships that Dick can fall back on when he gets in over his head; we see him discuss his newfound love for Shawn with the likes of fellow Titan Wally West, Bruce and Alfred, and Shawn’s discussion with various members of the Run-Offs;
Bludhaven’s own ragtag super group comprised of various former villains and now… Nightwing.
The art is absolutely stellar. Neon, almost psychedelic, tones, accent the dark, brooding, nature, of the city of Bludhaven and its many adversaries. This seems very reminiscent of the Grayson series that saw Dick take on a new mantle as an agent of Spyral, and the earlier Nightwing run from over a decade back. It’s really such a blast to take in! The pencils and colors pair well and add a sense of realism to a rich, deep, world, with explosive results.
As a longtime fan and reader, this issue is everything I love about the character. I was, admittedly, a bit nervous going in. I worried it might… spiral… (Ha!) into a sappy mess of a RomCom. That notion was quickly quieted by the depth of the story and the reassurance of old friends. It is tomantic, and it’s a bit uncomfortable starting out, but that only speaks to uncertainty of a new love interest.
It seems that the Bludhaven arch was all building up to something bigger, with major implications for Dick’s future. I for one am very excited.