Nightwing continues its winning ways of embracing and expanding the best parts of who and what Dick Grayson is as one of the true hearts of the DC Universe. The art team beautifully works together to create a harmonious mix of past and present set scenes that are beyond delightful. This team has proven that they not only love this character and the world he inhabits but know just how to pay tribute to everything that came before while adding their own additions to such a solid foundation.
Retcons of any kind can be a tricky divisive subject when it comes to comic books. They either turn everything that one knows on their head in a satisfying way or they leave the audience grumbling as it changes things in a way that they feel harms the characters. A solid key for a retcon is finding the way to make a change/reveal a secret that not only changes things in a way that feels natural to a character but actually bolsters the inherent qualities that are associated with that character.
With the revelations surrounding Melinda Zucco, Dick Grayson, and the entire Grayson family, this issue showcases that key perfectly.
Adding a family member to an established character is always hard but when it is done right it adds so much to them. This issue is almost entirely flashback as Melinda Zucco’s mother Meili Lin tells the tale of how she crossed the path of the Graysons and how Melinda and Dick are half-siblings. Tom Taylor makes sure that nothing in this revelation turns John Grayson into anything less than the caring and adventurous father that we’ve seen him be in previous flashback stories.
In fact, this flashback just bolsters how truly awesome and even heroic and caring Dick’s parents truly were. What they were willing to risk in order to help someone in need and fleshes out more of why Tony Zucco killed them so many years ago. Dick Grayson is the heart of the DC Universe in so many ways and this just hits home part of why he is that way. The other part of the reason is the influence of his second father Bruce and the other heroes like Superman that were part of raising him after his parents were gone.
In fact, those heartfelt connections come out in a truly really great way in this issue, which reaffirms this new era where relationships and continuity that had previously been wiped out or warped is back in place. The heroes that rise up to the call when they think Dick is captured really can make a longtime fan of these characters quite happy (see the page down below).
An issue with this big of a revelation as well as looks back to the past comes with quite the artist jam. This includes regular series artist Bruno Redondo alongside former Nightwing artist Rick Leonardi and Neil Edwards on pencils while Redondo, Andy Lanning, and Scott Hanna tackle the inks. Regular colorist Adriano Lucas and letterer Wes Abbott are still here doing the awesome thing they do.
Sometimes when there are numerous artists involved there can be instances where the art clashes and it’s clear that there are art changes in a way that takes you out of the issue. Honestly, this wasn’t one of those cases. Everything was so engaging and energetic that it wasn’t until writing this review and looking at the credits that I fully became aware that there were switching artists. My brain noticed the change but also didn’t notice the change, as the scenes being flashbacks it just made sense to my brain that they looked different from the present-day scenes.
This is readily helped by the way Lucas changes his colors for the past. Rather than just making them faded like is often standard for depicting past set pages, he turned to the Ben Day dot process (confirmed by editor Jessica Chen). This instantly gives it that older look that instantly feels right to the brain and pulls on that nostalgia in the best way possible.
Abbott plays into this too with the look of the letters in dialogue and also the stylings of the SFX that fill the pages. It might not have been the thought, but when reading the pages with action and SFX the mind started flashing back to the Batman 66 style intro.
Together this entire creative team created something that is really special and fun and just sings harmoniously. It’s quite a feat to pull off this sort of story in such a truly additive and engaging way. This issue continues the series-winning trend of playing into the heart of who and what Nightwing is. This issue proves that when done correctly retcons have the ability to add far more to the characters involved and open tons of new story avenues.
Nightwing #82 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.