Nightwing: The Lost Year
Writers: Mark Andreyko and Marv Wolfman
Inkers: Jack Jadson, Keith Champagne and Alex Silva
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I suppose I am drawn to Nightwing because of Oracle. Barbara Gordon has always had a thing for Nightwing’s alter ego Dick Grayson and over the years, the two have enjoyed both a professional and personal relationship with quite a few ups and downs. So, I find myself reading DC Comics’ Nightwing series as often as I do their Birds of Prey series of comic books. This time around, I decided to check out Nightwing: The Lost Year.
Compiling Nightwing issues 133-137 and Nightwing Annual #2, the trade paperback, Nightwing: The Lost Year begins with Dick Grayson’s injury during the final days of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. As Nightwing, Dick Grayson shields Batman from an attack from Alexander Luthor, Jr., suffering a near-fatal injury. Nursed back to health by his former lover, Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson approaches Barbara yet again with the idea of marriage. However, when his former mentor, Bruce Wayne, asks him to join him on a soul-searching journey, Barbara urges him to go, believing that Dick Grayson will never truly find happiness until he finds himself.
Shortly after this journey, Dick sets up shop in New York City, becoming a gymnastics instructor while fighting crime on the side. Undercover as Nightwing, he rescues a damsel in distress only to discover that she is none other than his first lover and the reason behind why Dick Grayson has trouble with commitment. Years ago, when he was first with Liu, she betrayed him, using him to help her boyfriend Metal Eddie gain access to Wayne Enterprises. Liu and Eddie have supposedly cleaned up their act since then, but Dick is not so sure, especially when a new incarnation of Vigilante appears warning him against interacting with them.
Nightwing: The Lost Year proves to be an important journey for Dick Grayson. One must take into consideration that, according to the powers that be at DC Comics, the injury to Nightwing was supposed to have been a fatal one. They had planned to kill off Dick Grayson, however, although they had changed their mind about killing him, all involved agreed that his character should undergo some major changes. Thus, this arc was intended to be a coming of age for this character and the step-off point for a much different path for him to follow.
In Hero’s Journey, we learn about Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s ill-fated relationship, the ups and downs and in betweens, through a series of flashbacks as Barbara helps Dick regain his strength and athletic abilities following his near death experience. The artwork in this story arc is very detailed and realistic. The story itself is quite enjoyable and I found that Mark Andreyko wrote the characters very well, making the whole thing quite believable.
321 Days revolves around Dick’s new life in New York and his reuniting with Liu and Metal Eddie. This is a huge turning point in Grayson’s life as he finally finds a way to get over Liu and get past the betrayal that caused Dick to shy away from romantic involvements whenever things got too close. This is Dick Grayson all grown up and a bit harder than we are used to, a preview of things to come in the Nightwing series. The artwork in this arc is equally as pleasing as that found in Hero’s Journey. It’s the storyline that bugs me. Although it does much to explain Dick’s many failed relationships, I found it a bit lacking somehow…a little less believable. And the way they leave you hanging at the end. How do you end a trade paperback like that?! There is no resolution to the story arc! What happens to Metal Eddie? Does he manage to create a new H.I.V.E.? What the heck?!
I have mixed feelings about Nightwing: The Lost Year. While I feel that the writers made great strides in creating a new and improved version of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, I really dislike the way whoever compiled this thing decided to end things. The last comic included in a trade paperback should be the one that ends the story arc. They left things so open-ended, leaving me gaping at the last page yelling, “That’s it?!” So, overall, I liked the story and artwork of Nightwing: The Lost Year, but hated the ending. However, I still have to recommend this graphic novel as a must read for Batman and Nightwing fans as it is an important step in a new direction for the Dick Grayson character.