This week from DC Comics we get Nightwing 78. Many of the new titles since Future State wrapped up have not only reminded us of where we left off before the event pause, but they usually lay groundwork for what lies ahead. In the case of the Gotham titles, they begin to tease us with the formation of the Magistrate project that plagues Gotham in the future.
With Nightwing 78, instead of setting up the future, we get a Dick Grayson that is reflecting on his past in more ways than one. In a lot of ways this does make sense if we remember where Dick is coming from. He recently regained his memories after being shot by KGBeast in the head. He walked away from Rick Grayson, back to his previous life once more.
Nightwing 78 – Facing Down the Bully
The beginning of this issue starts off with a young Dick Grayson. Dick stands up to the school bully. While physically no problem for the new Boy Wonder, this bully can strike back in the way only rich, spoiled kids can. Unfortunately for this rich kid, a young red head shows up and covers Dick’s back. It’s one thing to pick on boys. It’s another thing when you have to deal with the Commissioner’s daughter. Thus begins one of the strongest relationships in comics, Babs and Dick.
Dick gets a ride home and fully expects the worst from Alfred and Bruce, but when he apologizes to Alfred, Alfred stops him in his tracks. Instead of chastising young Master Grayson for fighting, he commends him for standing up for someone who needs it, even without a mask.
These two scenes are good on their own, but they actually set up the rest of the comic. It reinforces Dick’s relationship with Barbara, and shows us the special bond he had with Alfred, who’s passing Dick is still dealing with.
Nightwing 78 – New Friends, Old Friends, Old Friends Long Gone
Dick happens across a bunch of thugs beating up a stray dog. Dick is so repulsed by them he throws aside the wit he’s known for and beats the crap out of the thugs, all four of them. Inner softy that he is, Dick takes care of the dog instead of leaving it, even though she bites him.
He returns to the apartment building he bought some time ago, and wonders how he will keep it going now that Bruce’s fortune is gone. He sees someone in his apartment, but when he busts in he promptly gets thrown on his ass like a rank amateur, like only Babs could do. I love the instant back and forth between them. Old friendships may be strained but they never die. Of course then Barbara meets the newest addition to the Grayson family.
Then reality sets in. For us Alfred’s death was a long time ago, but for Dick it was only yesterday, and unlike everyone else, he never had the chance to really say goodbye. Alfred placed Barbara in charge of his will, and now she brings Alfred’s last wishes to Dick, the truth. You see Alfred may have been a butler all these years, but that does not mean he didn’t take care of his own side of the ledger. Alfred died a billionaire. Now Dick becomes a billionaire, but that isn’t even the half of it.
With the fortune comes a sadly beautiful letter from Alfred. He explains the money, but then he tells Dick why he is the best recipient of the money – because Alfred believes in him. Dick finally gets his goodbye.
Nightwing 78 – The Big Guy Makes a Change
Interspersed with all this touching Nightwing nostalgia, we see the future conflict begin to take shape. Blockbuster, one of the major crime forces in Bludhaven, makes a little change. He does not like the job the Mayor has been doing to help his businesses thrive, so what does he do? Blockbuster simply scolds the mayor, reaches out and crushes his head with his bare hand. This is one problem Nightwing won’t be dealing with too easily, especially when the Police Commissioner is also on the take.
Introduce City Council President, Melinda Zucco, daughter of mob boss Tony Zucco. The reigns of Bludhaven now belong to her, and she now belongs to Blockbuster. I do not know her history with Dick in this timeline, but I’m assuming she blames him for the death of her father in some form. Either way, she has a bone to pick with Dick Grayson and bides her time for her revenge. Yet another problem brewing for Dick Grayson/Nightwing.
Nightwing 78 – Final Thoughts
I really like this issue. After everything that has gone on with Dick, it re-emphasizes his relationship/friendship with Barbara and gives him a chance to say goodbye to Alfred in some small way. It is very touching and shows Dick that the Bat-family is very much a family. Meanwhile, it lays the groundwork for the problems ahead.
Not to mention I love both of the covers for this issue, Cover A especially! Nightwing is truly back and his symbol in front of him is Bludhaven’s skyline. It gives off an almost Sin City style vibe, but it shows Bludhaven’s protector is back!
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