Titled “Setting Son,” the story in “Nightwing” #30 from Tim Seeley and Tom King draws a close to one chapter of Dick Grayson’s life and writes the first sentence of the next chapter. Naturally, this story contains spoilers for the finale of “Forever Evil,” but given the widespread announcement of the upcoming “Grayson” series, it’s safe to let it be known here: Dick Grayson isn’t dead. At least not to readers.
With that line of thought, writers Seeley and King make “Nightwing” #30 less a story about the Nightwing identity and more about the Dick Grayson persona and his quest for identity beyond the shadow of Batman. The writing duo keeps the reader at arm’s length throughout the first two acts of this issue, which makes for some decent plot movement, but minimal character development. The thirty-page story is crisply divided into three segments: one to establish an upcoming threat, one to finalize Grayson’s affairs and the third to mix the two together with an eye towards the future. The most noteworthy aspect of all of this is that Nightwing doesn’t even appear in over half of this, the final issue of his own series. He does not appear in the first segment at all. When he finally appears, it’s on the third page of the fifteen-page sequence where Batman lays some ground rules. This is the last appearance of Nightwing, as the third act ditches the familiar winged mask once more. While relying on plot to hold the reader’s attention, Seeley and King send this story on some wild, Tarantino-wannabe jumps through time, with datelines set at “Two Months Ago..,” “A Month Later,” “Now…,” “Later…” — where Seeley and King crack the nut of Grayson’s noggin, giving readers a little payoff for this issue and the series as a whole.
The three segments are delineated by different artists, each with styles close enough to not disrupt the rhythm and flow of the story, but distinguishing flair that work in concert with the datelines and shift in story. Jeromy Cox adds punctuation to the story, shifting the overall palette of each segment, using different backgrounds, textures and lighting. Javier GarrÃ³n’s characters are heavily outlined, popping off of their backgrounds like characters in an animation cell. That adds a level of depth to Leslie Thompkins’ struggle as Seeley and King introduce the Fist of Cain. Jorge Lucas’ more heavily shadowed drawings fit the discussion between Dick and Bruce in the Batcave. This segment would flop without careful attention to detail and setting. Lucas adds choreography that invigorates the characters and makes this segment flow quickly. Mikel Janin, inked Guillermo Ortego, steps out into light, with Grayson seeking adventure and feats of daring-do in a sample of what’s to come from “Grayson” #1.
This is a fine way to close the “Nightwing” series, but it does raise some questions about the viability of the new plan going forward. If Batman is right about Spyral, then there will be major ramifications popping out of Grayson’s decision and those could lead to even more familial strife in the Batbooks. Sure, that’s a great way to sew drama, but it also sets Nightwing and Batman up to look like absolute fools. Whatever the case, one thing is clear, Dick Grayson is Nightwing no more. “Nightwing” #30 reads more like “Grayson” #0 than “Nightwing” #30. The concept shows some promise and appears to offer a whole new world for readers to explore alongside one of comics’ most beloved characters.