Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SPOILERS: Nightwing #30

Two months ago, Dr. Leslie Thompkins was volunteering in the Congo (maybe Stephanie Brown should give her a call? Dumb plot point callbacks, HEEEEYOOOOO) when her medical aid camp is attacked by a cult of murderers known as Die Fasut Der Kain, "The First of Cain" in German. Die Faust are some crazy fuckers, as they follow the teachings of a depopulationist philosopher, and seemingly kill for fun, believing their victims have point values, and Leslie Thompkins is the key to a high score.

Leslie escapes the chaos, but is met by a member of Die Faust in the jungle. Before any harm can come Leslie's way, her attacker is killed by a crossbow arrow to the neck, fired by a dark skinned woman who looks to be another member of the cult, ridiculous costume and all... but that's not the case, as instead of killing Leslie, this woman rescues her, and brings her to safety in a room of red and black paneling, where she's asked questions of how she came to be. She remembers telling them the story of the night she cared for Bruce Wayne, but everything after that is shaky. The next thing she remembers was waking up in a hospital, unable to get the image of a spider web out of her mind. As she tells this story to Batman, she fears she may have gone on to tell them everything.

A month later, at Wayne Manor, a somber Alfred attempts to enter the cave, but the elevator system is locked up. Altering Bruce to the issue, he responds from the cave that he's aware of it, and declines to speak of anything else, such as the "loss" of Dick Grayson. But as we've all seen in the preview, Dick is inside the cave, being tested by Bruce in combat.

Bruce is trying to figure out if Dick is still there so to speak, if he's "alive" in a metaphorical sense, if he's got fight left in him, because he's got a difficult thing to ask of Dick, and that's to stay dead. Dick flat out refuses Bruce's request, citing what this would do to everyone, but Bruce points out his request is an attempt to save everyone. Spyral is out for masks, and Bruce wants a man on the inside, and Dick is his only choice, because he knows Dick would see the mission through, where the others wouldn't. Bruce also believes Spyral will seek Dick out in an attempt to use him against the family, so it's a perfect way in. After a long discussion/fight, the two seem to come to an understanding, Dick Grayson is dead.

Dick spends the next couple of weeks traveling the world incognito, and coming across members of Die Faust, and doing what he does best against them, Dick finally grabs Spyral's attention, as during an escape form an exploding car, he's rescued by a helicopter piloted by the same woman who rescued Leslie a couple of months earlier, and this woman, who has a fondness for crossbows, and a top that looks like a cross has got an invitation for Dick, with nothing but a spider web on it.


The Good:

I'm totally sold on the potential of Grayson, so this issue which at one point, pretty much became Grayson #0, really got me excited. Spyral is an untapped resource in the Bat world, so I'm very curious to see it fleshed out, and despite how fucked up it may seem to keep everyone out of the loop like Alfred, Bruce's reasoning for wanting Dick to accept the mission is sound. Tons of possibilities of where this can go, that's for sure.

There's also an element of weirdness in here that I liked a lot. Die Faust Der Kain is just a strange group, I mean you have someone who looks like an anime character, a 1920s big game hunter looking fellow, and the vocalist of a black metal band, just as a gang of killers. I'm going to guess that this strange shit came from Seeley's end of the writing process, but if Tom King also contributed to it, than even better, because I like me some stupid weird crazy villains. Die Faust seems to have been set up to be the villains we'll initially see in Grayson, which was one of my question marks for the series, so I look forward to that element being even weirder... Maybe.

Then you've got the reintroduction of Helena Bertinelli, who like Wally West, has gone through some race changes. Maybe. She's definitely of a darker complexion, could be black, could be a real deep Mediterranean olive complexion (if they're still going for the Italian background), hard to say, either way... she's not white, that's for sure. I predict people are going to complain, because that's what people do. Some will complain about her skin color, which shouldn't matter, some will complain she's not the old Helena, which we knew from day one. The important part is that Helena Bertinelli is back, and like Dick stepping into the secret agent role, is very different and ripe with potential.

NOTE: I did ask Tim Seeley on twitter if there was any clarification on Helena's ethnicity, and both he and Tom King said her background would be explored in upcoming issues of Grayson. Got a feeling my theory on the Mediterranean complexion might be correct, but again... not a big deal that sways the quality of the issue.

The Bad:

I wasn't a fan of how the scene between Dick and Bruce played out. While they're fighting, they're also "talking," and notice I didn't say they're having a conversation, or discussing, because they're quite literally talking at each other. Bruce keeps talking about what he needs from Dick and all about Spyral, and Dick goes on about how he doesn't want to put everyone through that. On some level, they're talking about the same thing, but the way it's handled is just a bit choppy, as it isn't an actual conversation where someone will make a point and allow the other to counter it, they're just talking over each other. It sucks, because that was a big part of the issue, and a pretty important conversation, so to have it play out that way while they fight, it just seemed weird.

Spyral is a little different than I was expecting. I could have sworn we'd see Kathy Kane in here, and it would be some arrangement between her and Bruce to get Dick in... not so. Their goal to expose masked heroes or whatever just seems odd to me, especially if they were trying to find out who Batman was, like insinuated in that opening scene... Because again... Kathy Kane... sort of knows who Batman is, and I'd assume they'd know everything else about him and his allies. I don't know, it just caught me off guard and went in a different direction than I expected. If they really don't know who Batman is, that just seems like a plot hole to me. We'll have to see.

Would have liked to have seen some more reaction from the Bat Family, other than sad Alfred, but that's just me.

The Bottom Line:

Count me as someone who is very excited to see what comes of Grayson in July. That said, Nightwing #30 does a great job of setting up what's to come, essentially acting like a #0 issue to the upcoming series. While I thought there were some hiccups with how some scenes were handled and I wasn't exactly sure what to make of Spyral's motivations, the potential of what is to come is all laid out, and it's damn near limitless. I'm ready to see Dick Grayson take on a new role, adding Helena Bertinelli into the mix is a great bonus to something I already had plenty of excitement towards. 



  1. I personally don't care about the "race-bending" happening in comics. I had the same immediate thought about Helena's complexion and portrayal -- potentially olive-skinned, Sicilian/Mediterranean. And even if she's meant to be "light-skinned black" it really doesn't matter. My guess is that the variation on her appearance is to differentiate her from Helena Wayne, The Huntress of World's Finest/Earth 2.

    (FYI you wrote Helena 'Wayne' above in a spot where I think you meant 'Bertinelli.')

    A question that gets into murky territory: I wasn't reading World's Finest, and I'm having trouble remembering from your reviews... did Helena Wayne/Huntress of Earth 2 adopt the Helena Bertinelli persona when she came to Earth 1 to team up with Power Girl? If so, is there an implication that the Bertinelli identity is some sort of smoke screen altogether? Not trying to get caught up in the battle of the Helenas. Just curious if you think Seeley is trying to reconcile their respective stories somehow.

    1. Yeah, in the Huntress mini Helena Wayne was using the name as an alias, then in Worlds Finest when she's burning up her passport she says something along the lines of "she was a real person, but she died" or something like that.

      I'm sure at the time, they were just saying that to push Helena B out of the picture, but an easy explanation could be that Helena W. wasn't pretending to be B with her looks, like identity theft on the internet, she was just using B's credentials which doesn't necessarily need a photo to go with it.

      Who knows? My solution is: Who gives a damn about Worlds' Finest?

  2. I get a little annoyed when the race/sexual orientation change a character. Not for the shallow reasons of them being different than what I remember, but because I'd rather DC create new compelling characters that are gay or have a different ethnicity. It just seems real lazy to just add a new race or sexual orientation to a preexisting character (that have been popular).

    Either way, new Helena doesn't bothered my too much and I'm thinking more Mediterranean than black. Haven't read this issue yet, but am looking forward to it.

    1. I'm not really all gung ho for it touting "lets even the scales, less white characters more minorities!" and I agree with you that maybe some new characters should just be made, but the problem with new characters, especially in the New 52 is, there are so many that people just don't give a shit about. Not saying that Grayson would fall under a "new for the sake of new" trapping that many New 52 stuff falls victim to, but making it be a reinterpretation of a character that's known at least gives people a reason to pay attention. Saying Helena Bertinelli is being given a new role is FAR more interesting to me than just some random new girl. Changing her race also gives her the chance for a new and interesting back story, which again is far more interesting than taking vanilla Huntress and going "She's an agent of Spyral now, I don't know." That's what seems lazy to me.