Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nightwing: The Lost Year

"I’d still recommend “Love and War” to just about any Nightwing fan. I just hope the next collection allows the hero a chance to succeed at, well, something?"

Those were the words I used to close my review of the last Nightwing trade, "Love and War." In the time since, I've read a number of reviews hailing the new team of Pete Tomasi and Rags Morales as being a massive improvement simply by being any good at all. I took offense at this type of remark, as I'd enjoyed Wolfman's recent and classic work on the charcter, and felt the criticism was unfair. Then, of course, I read his follow-up.

What. The. Fuck?

I'd bought the title under the impression this would cover the time between the Robin becoming Nightwing, a period already covered by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, but by a creative team I hated on this character. My presumption was unfounded, as Wolfman instead covered the time between the disbanding of the Teen Titans and his work on the reformed New Teen Titans. None of this really matters however, as this is a total miscarriage of storytelling. Jamal Igle, continuing his attractive work from earlier in the run, quits the book after two issues. It's revealed that despite all the girlfriends Dick Grayson had in the 70's, he busted his cherry with an evil Asian villainess somehow not named Cheshire (not that she was likely heroin-boy Roy's first, either.) The new supporting characters barely make a peep in this edition. The new tech support for Nightwing turned out to be a carryover from the old Vigilante book, and he fails to make an appearance in what turned out to be an extended backdoor pilot for a new Vigilante book. In fact, evil Asian villainess, who works for evil charismatic male Asian villain, seem to also be intended for the new Vigilante book. You can tell by the way Nightwing again fails to defeat or capture either of them, though it gives him a chance to get his ass repeatedly owned by the new Vigilante, who will likely kill the Asians in his own book.

I suppose with all these Asians running around, it made some sort of sense to switch from Igle realistic art to Jon Bosco faux manga style, his issues seeming to have been hacked out in the weekly format popular in Japan. Everything in this book comes off as amateurish and arbitrary. The i-Tunes assissin pops up for a page, presumably to remind us of how he'd previously beat down Nightwing and intended to do so again. The evil Asians perform a minor massacre at the same super-villain club Bride and Groom performed a grander massacre in previously, with much less cause. Absolutely nothing is resolved in the end, with the "Lost Year" serving only token mention of Dick's being previously and now continuously powned. Responsible parties should be pelted with unsold copies of this piece of shit when the returns come back from Borders. Those great Ryan Sook covers sure sold a false bill of goods.

The book's saving grace made me sad for two reasons: I'd already purchased it, and it was a lead-in rather than a follow-up. Marc Andreyko and Joe Bennett had done very nice work on the second Nightwing annual, filling in cavities in Nightwing's continuity left by people like Wolfman. As a fan of the romantic relationship between Dick and Barbara Gordon, it was a pleasure to see it treated so respectfully and augmented with grace. That portion of the book was just damned pretty.

I'm pretty confident I'm going to stay the hell away from any more Wolfman trades in the near future. His woek here was absolutely wretched, and only deepened the concerns I had in the first round. Man, I can't wait to read the new work by Tomasi and Morales. It might just be any good at all...

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