Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nightwing #147 Review

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Don Kramer

Nightwing #147 represents a truly infuriating trend in recent comic books. It is marketed as a part of the "R.I.P." storyline taking place in the other Batman comics, but has absolutely nothing to do with it. This continues the pattern of soliciting comics as being a part of a larger story and then having it have nothing to do with the story at all. I believe this trend started with the "Avengers Disassembled" story line four years ago, in which both Thor and the Fantastic Four were solicited as a part of the story, but had nothing to do with it. It culminated with the disastrous Countdown to Final Crisis, which not only had nothing to do with Final Crisis but contradicted so many elements in it that it made Final Crisis even harder to read. Even if Nightwing turns out to be a part of the R.I.P. story in the end (is the guy falling into a cloud of bats a part of R.I.P.?), I have lost all faith that it will be.

So, Nightwing #175 puts me in an awkward position. Tomasi just wrote one of my favourite books ever, the wonderful Final Crisis: Requiem, and I want to read more of his work. On the other hand, I feel almost morally obliged to drop Nightwing immediately so as not to find myself taken advantage of. Since I am interested in both Tomasi and Nightwing, I will give this series a shot, and hold my nose at the stench of DC marketing.

Despite all of these concerns, Nightwing #147 is actually a pretty good book. It isn't especially insightful or moving, but is a well-paced, well-told action story in which Nightwing has to protect Two Face's ex-paramour from unnamed assassins. Every part of the action is well described and clear, and between the fight in the car, the battle on the rooftop and a mad leap through a crashing helicopter. Kramer has a great sense of visual storytelling that makes every scene seem like it is in motion.

The rooftop scene with Two-Face and Nightwing is a lot of fun. Two-Face has such a bizarre moral code that Nightwing can only laugh at him. However, he did love the assassin's target, and now he wants to save her life. Somehow, Two-Face blends not being willing to actually follow through on the affair because of his wife with dropping innocent people in a silo filling with sugar, and makes it seem sort of plausible.

Some of the elements are a little implausible, even from the standpoint of a comic book. The sniper on the roof battle is perhaps the worst sniper who ever lived. He literally kills every single person except for his intended target. However, no matter how implausible the occasional element became, the sense of desperation in the scenes made every dangerous decision people took make sense.

The cliffhanger has all the wind taken out of its sails by the fact that we know Nightwing will soon be in Gotham, perfectly healthy, and captured by the Black Glove. If this hadn't been marketed as a part of R.I.P., it would work well as an independent story, but since it is supposedly a part of R.I.P., it must happen before Batman #678, so we know that Nightwing gets up from his injury so fast, it seems like it happened two months ago. Not only is the marketing dishonest, but it actually hurts the story.

I'm not sure how to grade this comic. I want to fail it, because I want to punish DC, but I suppose at the end of the day, a grade isn't a weapon but a description of the quality of the book, independent of such considerations.



Anonymous said...
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Brannahdel said...

True. You can't grade a comic for the fact that marketing - which does their own thing, without really anything to do with the writer's plan - is separate from the story itself.

I have seen your dilemma addressed by other people and they have just gotten angry and decided to complain attacking the story, the writer, etc. That is as fair as hating a soldier for going to do his duty when the culprits are the leaders. Besides, this whole Batman RIP is really Morrison's baby. No one can really play in his sandbox and stories like this can only be placed around the main story. Take into account the Robin tie-in. He is not captured in Batman RIP, so, his tie in can take place within the story. Nightwing was captured in RIP, and unless Grant is going to have him escape and later appear to help Batman (which does not seem like it, from the solicits), then, Tomasi cannot tell a story that happens within RIP (for example, how Nightwing escapes and ending when he shows up to help Batman in RIP). He has to either tell the story up to the point when he gets captured, or a story after... and we all know that the story "after RIP" cannot be told yet.

Daniel said...

I tried my best not to blame Tomasi. I really don't think it's his fault, but the marketers. It's too bad this is going on, because it's making it impossible to be a crossover zombie (something I usually enjoy).

I wonder if there could have been some way to tie it in, even if Nightwing was captured so early in R.I.P. Dick was there for the original Doctor Hurt experiments and for Bruce's time in the cave. They could perhaps have done some sort of flashback story. However, I understand why Tomasi may not have wanted to do that; I just wish the marketers had respected the readers as much as the editors respected his decision.