‘Nightwing’ takes a bit of a fun but important story detour without losing any of the energy that has made this book such a favorite series to dive into month after month. Heart and legacy are just as important here, as a momentary change in artist helps bring the right vibe needed for such a whimsical but also serious storyline.
Imps and Demons and souls, oh my! One can never really be certain what types of adventures might suddenly be at the proverbial doorstep of any hero, no matter if they are cosmic in nature or just a highly skilled street-level human. Definitely, there is no preparing for a 5th-dimensional powerful imp showing up with a very dire mission that needs their favorite hero.
Suddenly switching tones in an established story is not an easy thing to do, but when a series has established itself in the right way it can be a breeze. Nightwing #98 slows down the more serious tone it had been following in the last few issues, to take a walk on the more wacky whimsical side of things without losing any of its heart or direction. Throwing the magic of Nite-Mite into things is a disruption for sure, but at the same time, it’s not disruptive to the series at all. That’s because Tom Taylor made sure that the wacky nature that came with Nite-Mite was tied to a story that has actual big connections to the overall narrative of Nightwing and Blüdhaven.
Dyxl, Nite-Mite’s real name, is already intriguing because unlike the other imps that tend to bring trouble in their wake, he’s just a genuine fan of Nightwing and wants to help the hero out with a heroic mission because Dyxl doesn’t see themselves as a hero. That mission has legacy ties, just like most of this series has had, because way back in the 1995 event Blockbuster sold his soul to the demon Neron for his massive intellect and it just cost him his soul. Turns out though that being the slimy terrible person that he is, Blockbuster had a daughter and he sold her soul away in exchange for his own and that contract has come due.
Deals with that devil were not the only past and classic references that Taylor pulled out to see into the story as we see the old ‘disco’ Nightwing costume and references to his other major relationship with Starfire.
On that matter, I do have a feeling tied to this moment. Nite-Mite states that he is a Starfire and Nightwing shipper rather than Nightwing and Batgirl but he’s happy that they are happy. It pokes at the overall idea that there are a variety of groups that ship different character relationships, but it’s also a pointed jab at some of the more vocal folks online (often tagging or commenting directly at Taylor) that have gotten very toxic about the relationship happening in this book not matching their own desires. On the one hand, poking at such things is what it is, but on the other hand, I feel like jabs like this to stir up already toxic stirred up folks just isn’t the way.
It doesn’t take away from the story at all or even cause issues, it just feels slightly unnecessary.
This is a story that is very much about heart and absurdity and legacy, which is right where this title tends to sing. Such a departure from the past few stories needed art that could fit this wacky almost cartoonish, in a good way, story, and bringing Taylor’s Seven Secrets collaborator Daniele Di Nicuolo aboard accomplishes that. While regular artist Bruno Redondo’s style is more towards a realistically detailed sort of look, Di Nicuolo hits those same detailed vibes but with a more exaggerated style, one that is even slightly different than the Seven Secrets work. It allows Nite-Mite and even the demons to exist in this realm in a sort of flowing gliding just out of touch with our own reality space.
Things are all around light, with a bit of heaviness still permeating the work when it comes to the characters and elements that are standard for the book. Even in the most absurd moments, like Nite-Mite popping in most of the DC Superfriends for a Nightwing/Batgirl wedding, those characters, and things have a great depth and appeal to them to keep them grounded feeling. Batman is grim and dower as ever, even rendered in this looser style, compared to the lighter Nightwing or the fully fluid Nite-Mite.
Adriano Lucas always brings such brightness to the book, and here those colors are even brighter as they take on the same whimsical breaking reality fun as the rest of the artwork. A perfect example is just how bright and blue and hopeful anything surrounding Nightwing appears color-wise, which is contrasted against the harsh bright reds and heavy shadows that come with the demons later in the issue. It not only helps separate the sides better in those action-heavier pages, letting the action slide even smoother, but it also makes sure to keep it visually clear where our hero stands as a beacon of light. Always standing as a heart for the DC Universe as a whole.
It’s really interesting how Lucas’s colors are quite similar in this issue compared to the last, a lot of vivid colors and shadows, but some minor tweaks bring a whole new energy to it to fit with the art on the page. Watching colorists keep their own style while allowing their work to best flow with whoever the artist might be is just so cool.
The same can be said of letterers, as Wes Abbott brings the same energy to all the words on the page. From the Nite-Mite’s dialogue font being similar but just slightly different enough from others to dropping in big giant block letter logo names in bubbles, it’s all just some fun stuff. Alongside that is the usual work to establish volume/tone across the pages by tweaking font styles/sizes, which makes for some really funny moments like Nightwing’s quiet, almost whispered, realization that he has a 5th Dimensional Imp fan of his own.
Nightwing #98 is now available from DC Comics.