“The great rebuilder. The catalyst of change. Eternally reborn to start anew.”
Tim Seeley and Tom King’s Grayson series was one of the highlights of the New 52. The book sought to answer the question of what the unmasked Dick Grayson was to do post-Nightwing. Why, become a secret agent of course!
What was an interesting premise became an action-espionage juggernaut that put Seeley, King, and artist Mikel Janin on DC’s A-list. The series even sparked a grossly underappreciated spin-off in Steve Orlando’s Midnighter series.
Now that Rebirth is underway, Janin and King have gone off to work on Batman while Seeley seeks to bring Dick back to his roots. With tons of charm, wit, and mostly captivating visuals by Yanick Paquette, this issue proves to be a grand culmination and an inspired beginning. Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is a wonderfully comedic return for one of comics’ noblest superheroes.
The issue makes for a successful one-shot, perfectly fitting as both an epilogue to Grayson and a foundation for the new Nightwing series. Seeley bids a fond farewell to all Grayson series regulars; from The Tiger King of Kandahar to Helena Bertinelli. Even Midnighter is given some time to spend with Dick, inviting him up to the ever-fascinating God Garden. The most touching moments are left for Damian and later Bruce, serving to remind us of Dick’s time spent with and as Batman and Robin.
Some may consider it fan service but as each of these characters had a huge impact on the series it’s important we get a chance to see them inthese pivotal pages. Though crowded with supporting characters this issue is still very much focused on reintroducing Dick Grayson as Nightwing. The man formerly known as Agent 37 has bid adieu to the spy life and is ready to don his suit once more. Keeping the costume reveal until the final page emphasizes one thing: the character never truly left us.
Dick Grayson has held more superhero mantles than perhaps any other comic book character. He’s brought his charisma, charm, and acrobatics to every role and continues to do so here. Despite an intriguing threat in the Parliament of Owls, Seeley manages to keep the tone light and the comedy strong. Unfortunately, though Yanick Paquette’s art is stellar as always it doesn’t manage to capture Dick’s usual smirk. The jaws are defined and the action is clear, but the humor is lost on every character’s straight face. In a comic filled with “killicorns” and arcades, the characters look just a little too stern, their muscles a little too stiff. This is especially apparent on Damian’s rapidly aging face. Regardless, the work between Yanick and colorist Nathan Fairburn flows beautifully up to the very last panel, a testament to their longstanding relationship.
Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is a success in almost every way. The witty and touching script by Tim Seeley is rightfully coupled with Yanick Paquette’s bold pages, even if the acrobatics don’t look as fluid as Eddy Barrow’s work in the New 52. There’s an inherent difficulty in writing a character as pure as Nightwing/Dick Grayson. He’s Batman without the baggage, remaining an optimist without the inner-conflict that drives most costumed heroes. How, then, do you make Dick Grayson compelling to readers? The pages of this comic are filled with the answers. By giving him a colorful cast of friends that are equally as charming. By having him leap fearlessly from rooftops with the ease of a Flying Grayson. By making him the kindhearted, comical hero he’s always been.
- A fitting end for Agent 37
- Excellent characterization
- Funny and entertaining script
- Rigid character work