Titans Season 2 Review (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters, Joshua Orpin, Iain Glen
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the second season of Titans.

The second season of Titans begins by resolving the cliffhanger from the end of last season. Rachel is able to defeat Trigon the demon with the help of Gar Logan, but not before Trigon temporarily turns the other Titans against Rachel one by one. This breaks her heart and allows him to place a jewel in her forehead. But Rachel and Gar manage to defeat Trigon and send him away.  Rachel gets new powers. Powers she doesn’t understand and doesn’t have much time to learn to harness.

After defeating Trigon, Dick brings everyone to Titans Tower to restart the group. Donna (Wonder Girl), Dawn (Dove), and Hank (Hawk), join Gar (Beast Boy), Rachel (Raven), and Robin (Jason Todd), under Dick’s leadership. Dick is no longer Robin but hasn’t yet become Nightwing. Much of the season will be about his journey to taking both responsibility for his actions and mistakes but also choosing his adult title and path.

While in the Tower they see a woman with extraordinary powers being chased by Deathstroke. They help her and invite her into Titans Tower. She is not only Deathstroke’s daughter, but she isn’t there by accident. Deathstroke and his son, Jericho have a plan to get revenge on the Titans, especially Dick Grayson – and Rose is instrumental to that plan. Dick, in an attempt to keep the youngest Titans safe, leaves Jason, Rose, Gar, and Rachel in the Tower while Hawk, Dove, and Donna assist him in trying to find out more about why Dr. Light and Deathstroke have returned. But on one of their surveillance gigs, Gar and Jason figure out Dr. Light might be hiding in the subway tunnels. Jason, who feels that the only reason Dick left him behind is that he doesn’t trust him, convinces Gar to go with him on a recon mission to the subway. Jason says they will observe and report back. Yeah, that never works out. Once in the tunnel Jason and Gar separate. Then Gar hears screaming. By the time he finds Jason he’s been kidnapped.

Gar tells Dick what happened, then Dick gets a ransom call. Deathstroke will trade Jason for Rose. The Titans talk about it, but it’s a suddenly returning Kory who tells them no. They try to capture Deathstroke at a stadium but it was a false location. Meanwhile, Dick finds Jason by tracking his tracker but it’s too late – Deathstroke removes the tracker. Dick follows to an office building. He arrives but is unable to stop Jason from falling out a window.

The next episode explains what happened five years ago. Garth (Aqualad) was one of the Titans, who happened to look like Brad Pitt – he had a crush on Donna but she ignored him, mostly because she knew she had to return to Themyscira. But in the end, when Garth chases her to the airport, she agrees to be with him – only for Garth to be shot in front of her by Deathstroke. In desperation to get to Deathstroke, Dick decides to befriend his mute son, Jericho. He brings Jericho into the Titans, but not as a hero right away. When he learns of Jericho’s ability to jump into and control other people’s bodies, Dick invites Jericho to join the Titans as a member. Jericho is game but Deathstroke is playing games with all of them. In the end, Deathstroke tries to kill Dick, Jericho gets in the way, Deathstroke kills his son, but not before Jericho jumps into Deathstroke and becomes trapped. So, five years later, it’s Jerico who is after Dick and the Titans.

But Jason is still falling from a high rise window. And in the next episode, we meet Connor, a CADMUS clone and son of Superman and Lex Luthor. We also meet Krypto – a very good Super dog. Connor rescues Jason and saves his life. Then CADMUS shows up and shoots him with Kryptonite bullets. The Titans take him to Titans Tower to recover. His friend, Eve arrives and says out of frustration that, “unless we can take him to the sun” he will die. Kory uses her star power to save Connor and Raven acts as a shield. Connor is still sleepy but he will recover. Krypto guards Connor.

But everyone is shaken up. Jason keeps re-living his fall. Dick is forced to admit just what happened between himself, Deathstroke, and Jericho. Connor’s still asleep. Gar feels guilty about letting Jason go to the tunnels in the first place. Rose is cagey. Rachel doesn’t understand her powers and loses control during training more than once. Everything is falling apart, and when Dick tells the Titans that he lied – Jericho wasn’t already dead when he met Deathstroke at the church but Deathstroke killed him – Donna, Dawn, and Hank have had it. Meanwhile, Kory’s run into people from her planet and she really should go back, since her evil sister Blackfire has stolen her crown and her people are suffering. Everyone splits up. Dick trusts Gar to watch over Connor. Jason and Rose run off together. Connor wakes up and instead of calling Bruce Wayne like Dick requested – Connor explains to him about being a Titan. But on a walk outside, Connor sees a police officer arresting someone, gets confused, and attacks the police – causing a lot of damage. Gar calls Dick for help and advice, but Dick doesn’t get the message. Kory and Donna are also having issues – Kory with trying to get back to her real home and Donna discovering Rachel can’t completely control her powers. Dick, however, has abandoned his phone, id, traveling bag, and everything else, before assaulting an airport cop and being sent to prison. He prison, he meets a group of Hispanics who had left a gang and are now being deported. They plan to escape since they know returning to Santa Prisca is a death sentence. A religious member of the group explains to Dick the legend of Azul – the big bird that watches over his village and it’s people, protecting them from harm. Dick poo-poos this, as well as their plans. But eventually, he’s drawn into helping them escape. While dealing with all his guilt and problems – Dick also continuously hallucinates Bruce Wayne giving him some really bad advice.

Eventually, Rachel, Dawn and Hank (who have split from each other as well as the Titans), Kory, and Donna meet at a Diner in Elko Nevada. Bruce arrives and tells them they need to find Dick, get everyone back together, and permanently stop Deathstroke. And they need to be a team, a family of choice. Essentially, they do just that. The Titans come together as a team. Deathstroke has killed Dr. Light after he was no longer useful to draw out the Titans, but the team goes to find Dick but he’s already escaped his prison. Then go to Titans Tower and find it in shambles. Reports of tiger attacks and a strong man destroying a nearby carnival indicate that CADMUS-controlled Gar and Connor are in trouble. The Titans find the carnival. Rachel talks down Gar who turns into himself. The rest of the Titans stop Connor with Rachel putting Dick into Connor’s mind so he can talk Connor into breaking Cadmus’ programming and become himself. They even manage to arrest all of the CADMUS soldiers. But just as everything is looking OK, despite the damage, Dove goes to comfort a child by returning her doll. Then a huge electrical tower starts to fall, Donna runs to it and it hits her, killing her.

The Titans are devastated by the loss of Donna, but unlike Garth’s death, they are now united. They deliver the body to the Amazons at the airport. Rachel tells Dick she wants to go to Themyscira, and he lets her go. But no doubt she will be back.

I liked Season 2 of Titans, but I didn’t care for all the back and forth and time jumps, which made the story somewhat hard to follow and didn’t add to the story or tension. The characters are more developed than in Season 1 and it was great to see Dick finally become Nightwing in the last episode. Connor is awesome and Krypto steals the show. Actually, I was concerned about Krypto, because he’s also captured by CADMUS with Connor and Gar – but we see him with everyone else at the end. There are still elements to be resolved too. Kory really needs to hitch a lift to Tamaran to sort out her sister. Hank is back on drugs, having survived his split from Dawn by picking up cage fighting. Jason fell in love with Rose and although she “quit” Deathstroke, her journey isn’t over. So there’s plenty for a third season to develop. But this felt more like Titans to me than the first season, and our characters were more themselves, mind games aside. Some of Dick’s hallucinations of Bruce were hilarious and others were heartbreaking. Overall, I recommend this series, it’s definitely worth watching.

Read my Review of Season 1 of Titans.

Book Review – Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder

  • Title: Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder: Scholars and Creators on 75 Years of Robin, Nightwing, and Batman
  • Author: Kristen L. Geaman
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/09/2019

Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder is an excellent essay collection about Dick Grayson – Robin, Nightwing, Agent of Spyral, and the heart of the DC Universe. Some of the essays in this collection take a strictly chronological approach – summarizing different eras in Dick Grayson’s career from his earliest days as Batman’s “young sidekick” to the New 52 Era of Grayson. Other essays use a particular lens to examine the character from Freudian psychology to Feminism. Grayson’s relationships with other important characters in his life including Alfred and also the Teen Titans are examined. Finally, the book concludes with interviews with some of the more influential writers of various DC Comics.

I really enjoyed this book, though it took me a while to read parts of it (I never was a fan of Freud and Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin left me cold. So the chapters devoted to those topics were tough going. But, on the other hand, the essay on New 52 including Grayson was very interesting – and I’m not a fan of New 52 either.) I also learned a lot about the history of the character and of DC Comics. I highly recommend this book to Grayson’s many fans, and to anyone who would like to learn more about the character and the history of DC Comics. Each essay is meticulously researched and documented with footnotes.

Book Review – Titans vol. 2: Made in Manhattan

  • Title: Titans vol. 2: Made in Manhattan
  • Author: Dan Abnett and James Asmus
  • Artists: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Minkyu Jung, Lee Weeks, Reilly Brown, Scott Hanna, Andrew Dalhouse, Adriano Lucas, John Kalisz, Tony Aviña, Carlos M. Mangual, Corey Breen, Josh Reed
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Tempest (Garth), Omen (Lilith), Arsenal (Roy Harper), Bumblebee (Karen Duncan)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/23/2018

Volume 2 of Titans in DC Comics’ Rebirth continuity starts off in the middle of a fight scene. The Titans (Nightwing, The Flash (Wally West), Donna Troy, Omen (Lilith), Arsenal) are fighting a big guy determined to tear-up New York and disagreeing with each other about how to do it. However, Arsenal manages to trip him up, without destroying any buildings, though a couple of parked cars are flattened (to Wally’s chagrin). Superman arrives but the Titans have taken care of everything. Superman lets slip that it’s “good to see Wally again” then runs off.

Wally runs after him. Superman and Wally talk, and it turns out that Superman also remembers the pre-Crisis / pre-Flashpoint universe that Wally comes from. He encourages Wally to fight for his old girlfriend, Linda Park, who currently doesn’t even remember him.

Meanwhile, Bumblebee (Karen Duncan) and Mal Duncan head to Meta solutions to find out more about Bumblebee’s new powers. Meta Solutions promises to remove unwanted meta powers and to help metas train to learn how to control their powers if they want to keep them. While Karen talks to Psimon (who claims he is now reformed) Mal waits in the waiting room. When Mal sees Mammoth arrive he has a panic attack. Omen (Lilith) recognizes his panic and the Teen Titans arrive. Psimon had Karen try on a suit (costume) to measure her powers and control them. Karen loves her new Bumblebee suit and powers. When the Titans arrive they run into the Fearsome Five – who claim they are “good guys now”, having given up their powers and in the case of Psimon dedicating himself to helping others, especially other new metahumans.

Later, Wally tells Nightwing that the man they fought earlier who had Mammoth’s powers, previously had no priors and no metahuman powers. They discover a black market in superpowers – superpowers that Meta Solutions is siphoning from other metahumans.

Returning to Meta Solutions, the Titans confront the “former” Fearsome Five – only to discover they were lying about giving up their powers. There’s a big fight, but Bumblebee arrives in her costume and in control of her powers and rescues everyone. Karen is disappointed to learn though that her husband gave up his powers.

In a special holiday issue, Arsenal invites the Titans to Times Square for the New Year’s Eve ball drop – but they end up fighting a pair of metas instead. They manage to get the two thieves to drive their car into the harbor where they are rounded-up by Tempest. Arsenal explains that New Year’s is special to him because having struggled with addiction (he was a heroin addict) he now sees each new year as a new beginning and a chance to further improve his life. The Titans then realize how important it was to Roy to spend time with them on a day that he considers special in a personal way.

In Titans Legacy – four Titans and their four mentors find themselves stuck in a box together. Nightwing, Batman, Donna, Wonder Woman, Wally, The Flash (Barry Allen), Tempest, and Aquaman are actually at first suspicious – wondering if someone is a ringer. They then realize they need to work together to discover how they ended up in the box, who locked them up, and how to get out. Wonder Woman is especially cold towards Donna. A couple of challenges are thrown into the box to fight our heroes and keep them busy, first Metallo (who is a copy and not the original) and then a group of Parademons (also projections). But throughout these fights, and Batman trying to figure a way out, Wonder Woman and Donna are having issues. When Batman scans everyone, Donna doesn’t register as human. Wonder Woman explains Donna was made from clay, brought to life, and given false memories and history. Donna is completely broken by this revelation. She’s so hurt, despite Diana’s apologies, her mental anguish reaches Omen who is able to call in rescue troops, including the Justice League. They discover the Key was behind the abductions but he escapes into a metaphysical door.

This was a very fast read, with enjoyable characters and a good team. I like Nightwing, Flash (Wally) and Arsenal together – they are good friends and work together. Omen and Donna are new to me but their characterizations were clear and it easy to see how they fit. I also liked Tempest. I recommend this series.

Also, read my review of Titans vol. 1: The Return of Wally West.

Nightwing New Movie – Who should Direct?

Warner Brothers adding a new Nightwing movie to the DCEU has gone from rumor to something that will definitely happen, even if we don’t know precisely when it will happen. That’s okay, I’m patient, and it’s about time that the general populace got a chance to meet grown-up Dick Grayson – the man comics fans know, who is no longer running around in short green pants. So, naturally, I’ve been following the news online about the film.

Director Promises a Nightwing Film of Action and Heart

But reading about the film, while it sounds promising, I found the following quote, well, disturbing,

“It’s gonna be a fucking badass action movie with a lot of heart and emotion,” McKay told Collider.

and not just because of the language. While Nightwing is a strong character, there is more to him than that, and he’s also the antithesis of the “beat-up now ask questions later” superhero. Dick Grayson’s greatest strength is his compassion, not his physical abilities. It’s what sets him apart from Batman. It’s what in a very real sense caused Dick to quit being Robin, attend college, date Barbara Gordan, then move to Blüdhaven to be his own man and develop his own hero, Nightwing.

I’d prefer a female director for Nightwing. The character is overwhelmingly popular with female comics readers and female fans, and not simply because of Dick Grayson’s looks or assets filling out his costume. Furthermore, Nightwing’s popularity with women is something that happened organically – suddenly Nightwing was a book that in all it’s guises was being read by women (versions such as the original Chuck Dixon Nightwing series from the 90s, New 52’s Nightwing and later, Grayson, and the current Rebirth Nightwing).

It isn’t simply Dick’s handsome looks or his butt, or his incredible physical skill and agility that make women “swoon” for the character – Dick Grayson is a character who cares for others, and uses his skills to help them – in long-lasting, impactful ways, whether that’s with his money, or saving someone, or putting a dangerous criminal in jail, or simply being a good listener – to other members of the Bat Family, to his friends, even to strangers. Batman may save a city, Superman may save the planet, Oracle may supply the information the Justice League needs to understand what a villain is trying to do – but Dick Grayson will take the time to stop his landlady from losing her apartment building and home after an earthquake, or help a friend get into medical school on a scholarship, or listen to Tim Drake as he tries to figure out his life, or even stop to give a hurt child a teddy bear.

Dick Grayson is a natural carer – and that’s probably a reason that a lot of women like him. So why not let a woman direct the Nightwing film? I will see it either way, and I’m sure Chris McKay will be great (I loved The Lego Batman Movie – I really did) but Patty Jenkins knocked it out of the park with Wonder Woman, and the film saved Warner’s this Summer. So why not do something different. Why not hire a woman?

Book Review – Nightwing vol. 6: To Serve and Protect

  • Title: Nightwing vol. 5: To Serve and Protect
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson
  • Artists: Greg Land, Drew Geraci, Patrick Zircher, Jose Marzan Jr, Kieron Dwyer, Rick Burchett, Rodney Ramos, Manuel Gutierrez, John Stanisci, Sean Parsons, Mike Collins, Steve Bird, Wayne Faucher, Patricia Mulvihill, Kevin Somers, Tom McGraw, John Costanza, Willie Schubert
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Huntress, Oracle, Nite-Wing, Black Canary
  • Collection Date: 2017 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Nightwing # 47-53 and Nightwing 80-page Giant #1 (2000-2001)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/12/2017

I have been enjoying Chuck Dixon’s original Nightwing series very much, and I was happy to see a new volume published. Nightwing vol. 6: To Serve and Protect has Dick Grayson taking up a new job – as a Blüdhaven police officer. Not to worry – he’s still protecting his city as Nightwing at night, but Dick now has a new “day job”. As a rookie, Dick is assigned a female training officer, Amy, though she’s not all that impressed – thinking Dick uses his connections to get his new job. Nightwing also has Oracle trying to find out more information about Tad, who is now in prison for killing an undercover Federal agent.

Dick Grayson works two major cases in this book, both with female villains who aren’t out-and-out evil – they simply go to extremes. What’s interesting about the approach is Dick works these cases both as a police officer and as Nightwing. The first involves “The Slyph” the daughter of a clothing inventor who was taken advantage of by corporate hacks and mobsters. Her father invented a marvelous new fabric which should have net him millions, but the formula was stolen and Sylvan’s father committed suicide after being ruined. Slyph’s costume is yards of red fabric wrapped around herself – fabric that can attack – almost like it’s alive. Slyph kills two of the industrialists in revenge, before being “killed” by her own fabric. However, when the police arrive to take away the body, she’s no where to be found.

The second is Hella. At first, it’s unclear what she wants – with her long red hair, and black costume – she actually reminds me of Batwoman, but this isn’t Kate Kane. She’s the last of the Riordans, an old Blüdhaven family of police officers. With three generations of Riordan men in the police – she becomes the first woman. But during her police academy graduation, there’s an explosion – her family is killed, and she’s thrown clear – but horrible burned. The skin grafts aren’t wholly successful and she hides herself in her costume and seeks revenge against the mobsters who destroyed her family and ended her career before it began. In the end, she’s killed by another explosion, this time on a boat. Dick sees to it that her family gets the monument in the cemetery that they deserve.

In between we have Torque attacking the Blüdhaven police headquarters – Nightwing stops him. Catwoman gives Nightwing a run for the money. Dick works closely with Oracle on all of his cases. And we learn a little bit about Tad. Plus, there’s a bonus story from the “Officer Down” storyline in which Commissioner Gordon is shot.

I enjoyed the book. It was great to see Dick Grayson as a cop, finally – something he had talked about since moving to Blüdhaven, though I had to wonder what Bruce Wayne thought of Dick’s choice. The art in the book is fantastic – from Slyph’s red, flowing costume to Hella’s black one. Even Catwoman’s purple outfit practically glows, and there’s explosions, and perfect full-page panels. This is an excellent volume and not to be missed.

Book Review – Infinite Crisis

  • Title: Infinite Crisis
  • Author: Geoff Johns
  • Artist: Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, Dick Grayson, Power Girl (Kara), Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Wonder Woman, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/31/2016

Infinite Crisis is a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, however it doesn’t bring back the Monitor or the Anti-Monitor. Rather, remember the characters who were stranded in nowhere? Superman from Earth-2, Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy? They return to cause havoc. It seems Superman (2) and company could watch what is happening on Earth-1 and they do not like it one bit. Having seen the darkness in our heroes – Superman (2) gets a bright idea – he will bring back Earth-2 instead, because Earth-2 is the better Earth. Superman (2) is also motivated by the fact that Lois is dying (of old age). Alexander Luthor encourages Superman in this plan – though he also shows his true colors, as it plays out – Luthor doesn’t care about Lois (he knows she’s doomed to die) or Earth-2, he wants to bring back all the Earths until he finds the perfect Earth. Meanwhile Superboy is pure nuts. His violence disillusions everyone.

The first thing the alternate characters do is bring in Kara, Power Girl, a version of Supergirl that no longer has a home planet, because she’s from Earth-2 but survived on Earth-1 at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara although initially under the sway of Superman (2) and Lois – eventually comes around.

Superman (2) visits the Earth-1 Batman and tries to convince him that bringing back Earth-2 is best for everyone. Yet, when he learns that Dick Grayson no longer exists on Earth (2), Batman refuses. He even tries to bring down Superman with his Kryptonite ring, but the ring has no effect on the Earth-2 Superman. Later, in one of the best vignettes in the story, when the Brotherhood of Evil uses Chemo to attack Blüdhaven – destroying the town with toxic waste, Batman rushes to find Nightwing. Nightwing wasn’t in the city, fortunately, but he stands on the outskirts ready to rush in to help. Batman prevents Dick from going in, brings him to the Cave where he fills him in on everything: Superman (2)’s plan, Brother Eye, OMAC, how Batman’s own surveillance plan went horribly awry – Grayson is impressed at Bruce’s openness. Bruce then gives Nightwing a mission, something to keep him occupied. As Dick Grayson heads out to Titans Tower – Bruce asks, “Those early years – were they good for you?” Nightwing answers, “the best”. It’s a wonderful moment, tightly written, not overly sentimental – yet it shows how much Bruce cares for Dick. Probably the best page in the book.

In general, though, Infinite Crisis is a big, showy book, that again features most of the DC characters. There are many full-page or double-page spreads filled with heroes and even villains. But the plot, not including the miscellaneous side plots, is simple – those left behind from Crisis on Infinite Earths want to return to the status quo. If Earth-1 is destroyed in the process, they don’t care – the old way is best. For our heroes on Earth-1, many have been in a crisis of conscience. After Maxwell Lord betrays the Justice League and kills Ted Kord (Blue Beetle), Wonder Woman executes Max. This shakes up the League and leads to distrust of the League by the general public. But the new Crisis brings Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman back together. In the end, this book has a more final ending – if a bit of a predictable one. But our heroes are together and strong as they pull together to face a world-bending, well, crisis.

Overall, I liked this book better than Crisis on Infinite Earths, though I enjoyed both. And the art is very spectacular. For the DC fan, this book isn’t to be missed and deserves a place on the shelf.

Book Review – Birds of Prey vol. 3 (1990s – Chuck Dixon)

  • Title: Birds of Prey vol. 3
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon
  • Artists: Greg Land, Gloria Vasquez, Patricia Mulvihill, Dick Giordano,  Albert T DeGuzman, Patrick Zircher, John Costanza, Butch Guice, Drew Geraci, Jordi Ensign, Jose Marzan Jr.
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Power Girl, Nightwing, Alfred Pennyworth, Robin
  • Collection Date: 2016 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Birds of Prey #12-21 and Nightwing #45-46 (1999-2000)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 3/22/2017

This is the third volume of the collected Classic Birds of Prey written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Greg Land and others. First, Black Canary is out to stop the breakout of a number of super-villains from a prisoner transport train. She, the military officers protecting the train, and the villains are transported by Boom Tube to Apokolips. There, with the help of a weaker parademon that isn’t part of the hoard, they must all escape. Barbara meets Ted Kord at a technology conference – and discovers he’s the co-hacker she’s been chatting with on-line for months. Diana tries to help an abused woman in her apartment building but is too late to prevent her from killing her abuser. Barbara interviews the Joker from an unseen position. Finding out the Joker has sold nuclear cruise missiles to a terrorist group, she asks for more information. When she tells Joker he isn’t in Arkham but New York, he tells her the nukes are on missiles that will hit New York. Oracle calls in Powergirl, Black Canary, and even the US Military to stop the attack. Dinah (Black Canary) is sent on a humanitarian mission to Transbelvia to help refugees and victims of ethnic cleansing and war between Krasy-Volnans and Belvans. She helps a group get to a shelter, overall things do not go well. Meanwhile, Jason Bard calls Barbara from the hospital where he’s undergoing an operation to restore his sight. Barbara offers to get him some investigative work.

There is a flashback story of Barbara setting up her Oracle base with the help of Richard Grayson (Nightwing) and Robin. She ends up also having Ted Kord visit her apartment and meeting with Jason Bard as well (who discovers she is in the chair).

The final volumes collected in Volume 3 of Birds of Prey reprint Nightwing and Birds of Prey in order. Nightwing is captured by Blockbuster, but freed by Cisco Blaine, who turns out to be a Federal agent. However, while Nightwing goes to get the files to bring down Blockbuster, Nite-Wing (Tad) the not-that-bright vigilante kills Blaine. Grayson freaks. Meanwhile, Black Canary is being pursued. Alfred and Robin rescue Dick, and they race to rescue Oracle. Meanwhile, Blockbuster has hired Mouse, Giz, Stallion, and Lady Vic, to find and destroy Oracle. Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, and Black Canary rush to help Barbara (Oracle). Barbara survives but Dinah is captured by the bad guys who think she’s Oracle.

Birds of Prey Volume 3 collects Birds of Prey 12-21 and Nightwing #45-46. Note this is NOT the Gail Simone version of Birds of Prey – it’s the original Chuck Dixon version.

Book Review – Nightwing vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle

  • Title: Nightwing vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon
  • Artists: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Patrick Zircher, Butch Guice, Karl Story, Drew Geraci, Mark McKenna, Jose Marzan Jr, Bill Sienkiewicz, Hector Collard, Robert Tewes, Patricia Mulvihill, Gloria Vasquez, Shannon Blanchard, John Costanza, Albert T DeGuzman
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Huntress, Oracle, Nite-Wing, Black Canary
  • Collection Date: 2016 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Nightwing #35-46 and Birds of Prey #20-21 (1999-2000)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 3/13/2017

I really, really enjoyed this volume of Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing. The first few issues overlap with Nightwing a Darker Shade of Justice from the previous printing, but here they are presented with two issues taking place during No Man’s Land, when, in the wake of an earthquake, Gotham is abandoned. Batman sends Nightwing into Blackgate prison to get rid of the warden, Lock-up. Nightwing’s plan to go undercover is immediately uncovered and he’s dropped in a hole with a number of villains that he and Batman had previously faced and captured. Later, the hole begins to fill with water. Nightwing manages to get the villains to work together enough to blow a wall between the hole and the next chamber so the water has someplace to go. Nightwing is also captured by Lock-up again – who has discovered the rumors of his death are exaggerated. The prison is back under Batman’s control, and a broken and beaten Dick Grayson shows up at Barbara Gordon’s.

Barbara begins to care for Dick, taking care of him, when her Oracle’s nest is attacked by the GCPD. The police get closer and closer, walking in to every one of her traps. Eventually, Dick and Barbara have to escape. They are nearly caught in the parking garage but Huntress arrives to help her former Birds of Prey team-mate.

After all that, Dick decides to return to Blüdhaven. Dick returns to the police academy and graduates. He also discovers that Clancy had always wanted to go to med school but she couldn’t afford college and she was too intimidated to apply for a scholarship. Dick encourages her to apply for a WayneTech Scholarship, which she of course gets. Clancy goes to med school. But when Dick applies for a job as a police officer in Blüdhaven, he’s told he isn’t qualified. Another student, whom Dick has reason to suspect of being not that honest, gets the job instead. The corrupt chief of police makes this other “cop” his enforcer.

Meanwhile the same police chief has arrested Tad, alias Nite-Wing, but provides him with information to start taking down some of Blüdhaven’s connected criminals, mostly as a means of disrupting Blockbuster’s gang and eliminating competition. Our Nightwing notices this, and takes Nite-Wing under his wing, so to speak, to train him. Dick’s first suggestion: change your name and get a better costume. The two are captured by Blockbuster’s henchmen. Immediately separated, Blockbuster threatens torture. But the minute he leaves, his chief enforcer gets the twins threatening Nightwing out of the way and reveals himself to be a Federal agent investigating Roland (Blockbuster). Nite-Wing, meanwhile, had a ton of documentation to take down Blockbuster from the chief of police. It’s in his car, though Dick had started to FAX it to Oracle. Dick tells Cisco Blaine (the Federal agent), he will get the info while Blaine releases Nite-Wing. Tad, though, being a bit of an idiot, kills the agent, thinking he’s a henchman and enforcer for Blockbuster. Dick is really upset by this, obviously.

Blockbuster meanwhile sends his hired villains after Oracle, including Mouse and Giz.

The remainder of the book is “The Hunt for Oracle” as Blockbuster’s goons chase Black Canary and go after Oracle. Both Black Canary and Nightwing try to get to Barbara to help her. Black Canary doesn’t actually know who Oracle is – only knowing her as a voice on her comms. It’s a chase, and a good one. Not going to spoil the end.

I loved this book. The writing was both sharp and fun. Dixon’s characterization of Dick Grayson is perfect – smart, caring, loyal, and with a driving need to help others – whether that’s helping Clancy get in to med school by encouraging her to apply for a scholarship, or training Tad. The opening Blackgate/No Man’s Land sequence is full of action – as is the closing chase, but the Nightwing series shines when it focuses on characters – Dick Grayson and his friends. Even a villain like Blockbuster is given some humanity – his extraordinary size has caught-up with him and he’s facing heart trouble or a possible stroke. His private doctor even talks to Roland about a heart transplant with an artificial heart, or a heart from an animal. Blockbuster rejects the idea of a pig’s heart, but has the doctor investigate the use of ape heart from Gorilla City.

I highly, highly recommend this book and the rest of the series. It’s an enjoyable read. The book is beautifully written and the characterization is spot-on.

Update: Nightwing Vol. 5 The Hunt for Oracle features Nightwing #35-46 and Birds of Prey #20-21.

Book Review – Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice

  • Title: Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon
  • Artists: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Roberta Tewes, John Costanza
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Batman, Huntress, Oracle (Barbara Gordon)
  • Collection Date: 2001 (Original Collection Printing)
  • Collected issues: Nightwing #30-39, Nightwing Secret Files #1
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/07/2016

And this is where it all started. I found Nightwing a Darker Shade of Justice in a comic shop (not my normal Vault of Midnight but another one that was not pleasant to visit) and I loved it. However, I could tell I was walking in to the middle of the story. I started to look for other volumes, mostly on-line, only to find the series out of print. That DC Comics decided to start reprinting this series made me happy and excited – because this is my Nightwing and my Dick Grayson.

This particular issue overlaps with volume 4, Love and Bullets which I reviewed earlier today, but it also covers additional issues of the on-going comic. Therefore I was able to read more of the on-going storyline. So for this re-read, I skipped the issues I just read in Love and Bullets and started with “The Belly of the Beast”. From the last page of “Sister Act”, where Dick is interrupted by an urgent video message from Batman, Dick is sent on a solo mission to Blackgate prison. Blackgate is under the control of the vicious criminal Lock-up. Batman wants Nightwing to take back the prison and remove Lock-up from control, thus preventing him from realizing he has an army that can take over Gotham (this takes place at the same time as “No Man’s Land”). Dick breaks into the prison but is unable to take over from the con and is immediately attacked. This is, ultimately, how he ends-up in such dire straits in “Taking Wing”. Dick escapes and crawls to Oracle’s door. Barbara Gordon begins to nurse him back to health – but her hideaway is attacked by the Gotham PD task force and Huntress. Huntress, however, decides that the PD’s plan to eliminate Oracle – her friend whom she worked with in the Birds of Prey – is too lethal, so she helps out Dick and Barbara. The issue ends with Barbara and Dick heading back to Blüdhaven.

A Darker Shade of Justice being the original printing, collects the original newsprint books into a single volume. I must admit I felt a bit nostalgic holding and reading the old style of comic book printing. The colors aren’t as vivid as the contemporary Nightwing books, though, and the tones are more muted. I hope that DC Comics publishes the rest of the series, including this book, because I suspect they with continue on from where Love and Bullets left off and continue past the end of A Darker Shade of Justice.

Nightwing A Darker Shade of Justice collects issues 30-39 of Nightwing, and Nightwing Secret Files #1.

Book Review – Nightwing vol. 4: Love and Bullets

  • Title: Nightwing vol. 4: Love and Bullets
  • Author:  Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Eliot Brown, Devin Grayson
  • Artists: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Eliot Brown, Dale Eaglesham, Bruce  Guice, Phil Jimenez, Andy Kuhn, Greg Land, Damion Scott, Brian Stelfreeze, Robert Campenella, Hector Collazo, John Floyd, Drew Geraci, Klaus Janson, Mark McKenna, Roberta Tewes, Adrienne Roy, Digital Chameleon, Tom McGraw, John Costanza
  • Line: 1990-Era (Early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Huntress, Nite-Wing, Legion of Superheroes, Superman
  • Collection Date: 2016 (reprint)
  • Collected issues: Nightwing 26 – 34 (Dec 1998, Jan. – Aug. 1999), Nightwing # 1,000,000 (Nov. 1998), “Taking Wing” from Nightwing Secret Files & Origins # 1 (Oct. 1999)
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/07/2016

I have been really enjoying DC Comics re-publishing versions of the 1990s run of Nightwing and this volume is no exception. Even though it has the same title as the previous collection from 2000, this volume includes additional material, making it a good buy even if you had the previous version.

The first story in this collection is “The Anachronism” a recreation of “Nightwing 1,000,000” – a Batman from the far future, part of the Legion of Superheroes, returns to “the present” to work with Dick Grayson, Nightwing. The other members of the Legion of Superheroes had also gone back in time while the Justice League will be sent to their time to attend celebrations. However, the Hourman Virus is released in the “present” and Nightwing and future Batman must stop it. It’s an interesting concept – but it ends abruptly without the story being concluded.

The next story brings back Huntress who is now even more vicious, driven by vengeance, and willing to use extreme violence to accomplish her goals. It also introduces a new villain, Torque, formerly Dudley Soames, a dirty cop who’s head was twisted 180 degrees. Surviving this, Torque is determined to bring down Blockbuster, who had caused his unique condition.

Dick meanwhile has settled in in Blüdhaven – he’s finally started to date Clancy, his landlady, as well as secretly helping her financially through Haly Holdings. In the previous volume, when Clancy’s apartment building was damaged by the quake in Gotham and threatened with a demolition order – Dick stepped in, secretly. In this issue, when Clancy gets a huge tax bill, Dick has Haly take care of it. This prevents Clancy from losing her home, as well as Amygdala, and the mysterious “Dr. Fledermaus”. Dick also sees to it that his namesake, the vigilante “Nite-Wing” is taken to Dr. Leslie Thompkins clinic for care. Dick cares about the people around him and the consequences of actions in his universe. He’d given Huntress a chance – but convinced she’s behind the recent string of unusual deaths of Blockbusters lieutenants – he not only breaks off his relationship with her, but becomes determine to capture her. As it would turn out, though, it isn’t Huntress who’s killing Blockbuster’s lieutenants – it’s Torque. Though Huntress works briefly for Torque because her ultimate goal is to wipe-out the mob, she later changes her mind.

“Just Passing Through” takes place after the great quake in Gotham and Gotham being declared “No Man’s Land”. With no place else to go, many ex-Gothamites end up in Blüdhaven. Nightwing protects them as he protects all of his city. In this story, he’s aided by Superman – who’s basically a sounding board for Dick, who in many ways, is still trying to figure out if the role of solo crimefighter is what he wants to do.

The next stories brings in Double Dare, a pair of sisters who are circus aerialists and bank robbers. Their techniques are similar to Nightwing’s so at first he’s blamed. And when Dick goes to stop them they are pretty evenly matched. But Stallion and Brutale try to take out all three for Blockbuster – which forces Nightwing to work with the two women for a short time.

Meanwhile, the imposter, “Nite-Wing” is caught by the Blüdhaven PD, but the corrupt police chief Francis Redhorn sees “Nite-Wing” as an opportunity to get out from under the thumb of Blockbuster.

Once he’s take care of Clancy’s financial issues, Dick talks to her about the direction of his life. He decides that he really wants to be a police officer – to fight corruption from the inside and to stop crime by legal means. He also discovers Clancy had wanted to be a doctor but didn’t have the money for college and was too intimidated to try for a scholarship. He pushes her to apply for a Wayne scholarship and grant. Yet, within a few weeks of his training at the police academy – Dick receives an urgent message from Batman. Next we see Dick – he’s dying and hallucinating Jason Todd as he relives his life. I was a bit confused as to how Dick ended-up drowning or dying.

This new version of Love and Bullets also features a number of extras – write-up summaries of info of all the major and minor characters that make up Dick Grayson’s (Nightwing’s) universe. A map of Blüdhaven, a map of Dick’s apartment and his floor in Clancy’s building, even a year-by-year history of the character of Dick Grayson in DC Comics (which was brilliant – I’d always wondered when the Teen Titans fit in). This is a handy reference to Dick’s universe.

I hope DC Comics continues to publish these updated re-prints of the 1990s version of Nightwing. I enjoy reading the collected volumes very much. The bonus material in this one is awesome and helpful, and the thicker, shiny paper holds the colors very well – so they pop off the page. Also, the drawing of Grayson himself in his black and blue uniform is just gorgeous.

Nightwing Love and Bullets (Vol. 4) collects:

  • Nightwing # 1,000,000 (Nov. 1998)
  • Nightwing # 26 – 34 (Dec 1998, Jan. – Aug. 1999)
  • “Taking Wing” from Nightwing Secret Files # 1 (Oct. 1999)