“Last Rites”. “Final Issue!” “Origins & Omens.” All three of these tags are jammed onto a licensing-worthy cover of Nightwing in flight among a colony of bats. Hard to tell which is most important, but all three “events” play a part in this issue, the final issue of a series started over a decade ago by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel.
This issue mirrors that first issue in an unsettling manner. While Dick Grayson was looking to move out from under the shadow of the Batman in the first issue, in this issue the legend of Batman finds him and overshadows him again. Folding up his tent in New York and summoning the strength from his circus roots, Richard Grayson returns to the cave where he grew up, on the anniversary of Bruce’s parents’ murder.
This issue is exempt of action, but nonetheless delivers insight and depth aplenty for young Master Grayson. Tomasi’s strength and overwhelming comfort within the DC Universe are as prominently on display here as in the first issue of “Nightwing” Tomasi wrote. Nightwing is the Kevin Bacon of the DCU. He has ties to every team and through those teams every hero. He’s a likable soul and a determined friend. Here, however, he mounts his determination to return to Gotham.
Kramer is one of the most grossly overlooked talents in comics today. His dedication to detail and commitment to visual variety make this book spring forth, becoming less of a comic and more of a collection of frozen imagery from Nightwing’s day. There are some panels and pages where Kramer’s work feels more like Phil Jimenez’s work than not. Check the brickwork in the final panel. Dedication to the craft at its best.
Rounding out this issue is the six-page “Origins & Omens” backup tale. Choosing not to broadcast a homogenized recap, Tomasi presents Richard Grayson sharing some much needed time with Barbara Gordon, and through this he demonstrates the importance of the bond between those two. The “Omens” page offers a peek into the upcoming “Battle for the Cowl,” but nothing concrete can truly be discerned, as Nightwing is distinctly still Nightwing. Are the images a month away? Years? It’s hard to tell, and honestly, I’m not certain it’s critical at this juncture.
This issue is another fabulous sample of Tomasi’s writing, specifically writing a character seemingly tailor-made for Tomasi. This is a rare issue I can see myself actually turning back to and re-reading at some point in the future, even though nothing earth-shattering occurs within. If something of substance had truly occurred, this issue might have been a four-star read.