Nightwing: Year One
Writers: Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon
Penciler: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Nightwing: Year One is a compilation of issues 100-106 of the Nightwing comic book series, explaining how Dick Grayson went from being Robin, Batman’s crime fighting sidekick, to Nightwing, guardian of Bludhaven. We begin with a falling out between Batman and Robin, culminating in Batman firing his adopted son. The argument was just an excuse for Bruce Wayne to let Dick Grayson go. The true reason is that Bruce wanted to keep Dick from harm at the hands of Batman’s many enemies. Having almost lost Dick to his arch enemy, The Joker, six years ago, and noting how thin Dick has been stretching himself while fighting at his side and leading the Teen Titans, Batman is certain that he is making the right decision in letting Dick go.
Dick Grayson, shocked, hurt and confused by his mentor and adopted father’s behavior, travels first to Metropolis and later to his roots – the circus where Bruce originally found him after his trapeze-artist parents were murdered. Along the way, Dick realizes that helping people and fighting crime is in his blood. No matter how hard he tries, he can never get away from his true calling. Thus, he creates a new persona for himself, under the watchful gaze of Batman, who uses a somewhat soulful acquaintance to get information about his former protégé.
Returning to Gotham as Nightwing, Grayson forges a name for himself with the help of Batgirl. He is shocked to discover that Batman has begun training a new apprentice to take his place – Jason Todd. In an effort to put street urchin Todd to the test, as well as to dissuade Nightwing in his new career, Batman arranges a test for both his former apprentice and his new one. However, when things go horribly wrong, it’s up to all three of Batman’s protégés to work together as a team to save longtime butler and family friend Alfred Pennyworth from the hands of the ruthless Killer Croc.
Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty did a terrific job enlightening their audience to Nightwing’s auspicious beginnings as seen through the eyes of the crime fighting hero. The idea that the entire trade paperback was actually a lengthy message from an emotionally and mentally Dick Grayson to former mentor Batman was a nice touch. The writing throughout the trade paperback was excellent and perfectly kept the interest of the reader. The interaction between Grayson and Todd was hysterical, with Todd seeing Grayson as a dried up has-been, while Grayson views Todd as a wisecracking nuisance. The Dick-Barbara fans out there would probably have liked to see more of the two of them together, but the scenes of Batgirl and Nightwing were just tantalizing enough to satisfy the romantic at heart.
The artwork throughout Nightwing: Year One was very well-done. However, there were some characters that could have been drawn a bit better. Bruce Wayne, in particular, looked a tad bit on the blocky side. But for the most part, no one could find fault with how well the characters of Nightwing and Batgirl were drawn. Especially notably was the way the new Robin was drawn. Having a similar look to the old Robin, the artists drew this new version to match the impish, wisecracking attitude of Jason Todd. Thus, the new Robin has a cockiness about him that truly shows in his facial expressions and a rawness exhibited through harsh angles.
Nightwing: Year One is definitely a must read for any Batman fan. This is an excellent origins story which is well-worth the $15.00 U.S. price tag. The comic book team of Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens has compiled a 144-page epic they can be proud of!
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