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 on-line 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 over-whelmingly 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 teddybear.

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 Warners this Summer. So why not do something different. Why not hire a woman?

 

 

 

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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 – Titans vol. 1: The Return of Wally West (Rebirth)

  • Title: Titans vol. 1: The Return of Wally West
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artist: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse, Carlos M. Mangual, Carrie Strachan
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Teen Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Tempest (Garth), Omen (Lilith), Arsenal (Roy Harper)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/11/2017

In May of 2016, DC Comics started “Rebirth”, an updating of all of DC Comics. Rebirth dumps New 52, returning the DC Comics books to the feel of the Classic 1990s Modern age. The new series now features a diverse cast of characters including many women, and religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, like DC featured starting way back in the Silver Age (1960s). I have been subscribing to many of the new Rebirth titles in monthly issues, but “Titans”, the updated “Teen Titans” is a title that I skipped in single-issue form.

Rebirth takes off from Flashpoint with the Flash, lost in the Speed Force, trying to get through to his friends. Titans vol. 1 The Return of Wally West features Wally West, also lost in the Speed Force, and no longer Kid Flash, but now “a Flash”, trying to find his friends in the Teen Titans. But no one recognizes him. However, when he touches Dick Grayson (Nightwing), there’s a spark of electricity – and Dick remembers Wally. Wally and Dick gather the rest of the Titans – Donna Troy (Wonder Girl), Garth (Tempest), Lilith (Omen), Roy Harper (Arsenal), and when Wally touches them – they remember him and the Titans. The group also soon discover that their memories of Wally and the Titans were stolen when Wally was thrown into the time stream by an enemy. However, Linda Park – Wally’s girlfriend doesn’t remember him at all.

The villain of the piece, Abra Kadabra, a villain from the far future appears at a birthday party in Keystone City, and uses puppet copies of the Teen Titans to attack the Titans. He eventually sets-up the Titans so they split-up to investigate three locations to find the kidnapped Linda Park. He then places everyone in deadly peril and challenges Wally to save them all, even though he’s used magic to move everyone to different cities. One does have to wonder why Wally didn’t call on the Justice League for help, since the locations (Coast City – traditional home of Green Lantern, Gotham – home of Batman, etc) are home to other heroes, but Wally decides he must save everyone. He does (in a stunning sequence) including Linda but goes so fast he’s absorbed by the Speed Force. Kadabra gloats over defeating his enemy. In the Speed Force, Wally talks to the Linda from his future who sends him back. Returning to Real Time, Wally defeats Kadabra and is reunited with the new Titans.

I enjoyed reading this book. Rebirth gets DC right – with fun, and humor, yet with deep and meaningful characterization. In the end, it’s Wally’s love for his friends in the Titans, not his romantic feelings for Linda, that allow him to return. The scenes in the Speed Force are wonderful though. And even Kadabra, as over the top as he is, is a fun villain – semi-threatening but not totally angsty. This book and the rest of Rebirth is highly, highly recommended.

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 – World of Flashpoint featuring Batman

  • Title: World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman
  • Author: Brian Azzarello, J.T. Krul
  • Artists: Jimmy Palmiotti, Peter Milligan, Eduardo Risso, Mikel Janin, George Pérez, Fernando Blanco, Scott Koblish, John Dell, Joe Bennett
  • Line: Stand Alone Graphic Novel
  • Characters: The Flash (Barry Allen), Batman (Thomas Wayne), Dick Grayson, Deadman, Helmet of Fate, Deathstroke
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/18/2016

**Spoiler Alert** This book takes place in DC Comics alternate Flashpoint Universe – in Flashpoint Barry Allen has gotten fed up and travels back in time to prevent the murder of his mother. Or so the Reverse Flash claims (see Flashpoint or the animated DC film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox). This has had a cascading Butterfly Effect – changing everything to the point where the world will be destroyed in a war between Aquaman and the Atlanteans and Wonder Woman and her Amazon Sisters. The World of Flashpoint series goes into details about the main characters we meet in The Flash: FlashpointFlashpoint featuring Batman consists of four stories of three parts each. These are: “Knight of Vengeance”, “Deadman and the Flying Graysons”, “Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager”, and “Secret Seven”.

In “Knight of Vengeance”, Thomas Wayne is Batman – following the murder of his son Bruce; and his wife, Martha who became the insane Joker. He also runs Wayne Casino and literally owns Gotham’s private security force (which has replaced the police). The Security Force’s top man is James Gordon. Joker has kidnapped Harvey Dent’s two children. She arranges things so that Gordon accidentally shoots and kills the young boy – and then kills Gordon. Batman goes after Joker, but having already met with Barry – he knows there’s a better world. He tells Martha there’s a world where their son survived, and they need to sacrifice themselves for that world to exist. Martha runs from Thomas falls off a cliff onto a stalagmite and dies. The Batman story was very good, but tragic.

In “Deadman and the Flying Graysons”, Dick Grayson is an acrobat and flyer in Haley’s Circus, with his parents, John and Mary. Also in the circus is Deadman – an aerialist who flies without a catcher, using wires, and also the mysterious Helmet of Fate. They are trapped in Europe by the war – and hunted by the Amazons who want their helmet back. The circus is constantly on the move, but they are tracked down. Mary Grayson is shot as she takes her bows at the end of a show. As the circus tries to escape, John is shot down as well. With his dying breath, he gets Deadman to promise to watch over Dick. When Deadman is later killed – his ghost watches over Dick.

This was my favorite story of the four – I loved the idea that Dick’s parents, at least, survived. Though it turns out to be “not for long”. Bringing in Deadman was an interesting touch. And, although I would have liked to see more with Doctor Fate, I found it fascinating that the Helmet would end-up in the care of someone who had no idea how to use it.

“Curse of Ravenger” was my least favorite story of the bunch. Deathstroke is a pirate, searching the seas for his kidnapped daughter. I’ve never liked Deathstroke, and making him a pirate just makes him less likable, even with his “noble” cause of trying to find his daughter. Note that one of Deathstroke’s new metas on his crew is a girl, Jenny Blitz, with Firestorm-like powers.

The last story is definitely the weirdest. “Secret Seven” features the more magical/mystical heroes of this universe. But six of them are dead, and when The Changing Man (looks like Firestorm – different powers), tries to gather a new group of seven, he’s kidnapped by Sagan Maximus of Neta Hightable to be “rationalized” – this process is interrupted. Yet again, the seven are nearly all killed, except for Abrakadabra who calls a press conference to reveal the names of the Seven, and a traitor who is working for the Amazons.

Overall, the graphic novel is worth getting, especially if you want more background on the various alternate-characters in Flashpoint.

Book Review – All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder vol. 1

  • Title: All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder vol. 1
  • Author: Frank Miller
  • Artists: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, 
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Robin (Dick Grayson)
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/05/2016

All Star Batman and Robin – the Boy Wonder is intense, really intense and the art is breath-taking. It brings to mind the classic Frank Miller graphic novel, Batman The Dark Knight Returns. However, that is also part of the problem with this book. In All Star Batman and Robin – Batman is a dangerous psychopath. He’s catching and beating up murderers, rapists, and thieves not to put an end to crime and corruption in Gotham City but because he enjoys it. And he kidnaps Richard Grayson not because after watching Dick watch his parents die he sees a kindred spirit – but because he selfishly wants a protégé, and this Batman will torture a twelve-year-old to get what he wants.

The Justice League also make appearances in this graphic novel – we see Black Canary become Black Canary (which was awesome, if violent), Wonder Woman (another violent psychopath who hates men), Superman (who Batman hates), and Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern (who Batman also hates). The argument and then fight between Batman, Robin, and Hal takes place in a yellow-painted room, because Batman wants to mess with Jordan. Yet, Jordan’s arguments make sense – Batman’s violent actions are and will bring down official wrath on all the masks – all the heroes (who at this point aren’t acting that heroic). Plus, Batman’s anger at Hal seems fueled not by anything concrete but by mere jealousy.

Don’t get me wrong – I loved Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns when I read it in the 80s, and the dark, apocalyptic view of Batman, Gotham City, and the world in that book made sense (as well as shaking up the comics world at the time which was much, much more light-hearted). However, even in The Dark Knight Returns Batman has honor – knowing he’s gotten too old to fight, he hangs up his cape and cowl. When the gang violence and everything else erupts, he comes out of retirement – having lost everything to death or simple abandonment, and he becomes the hero.

Here, Batman is at the beginning of his career – but he isn’t a detective, he isn’t the caped crusader, he isn’t an honorable knight – he’s a psychopath who cares for no one, who manipulates Dick Grayson into being a killer like himself, who doesn’t even care for Alfred. This isn’t my Batman – and all the breath-taking art doesn’t change that.

I read graphic novels for character – and the character of Batman was way off in this graphic novel. It felt like an Elseworlds or alternative reality Batman – maybe, but not my Batman. Not how Batman has been consistently written by those who seem to know the character best and write the character consistently the best. You’ll notice I never refer to him as Bruce Wayne – that’s because in this book, he’s always Batman – and he’s never Bruce. For once, he needs a little Bruce.

This book will haunt me (that his dying mother saw him as a psychopath, as does Alfred is downright frightening), so that speaks to the power of the story. But it’s not a likeable story, and nothing can take away the fact that Batman is simply out of character. This is too extreme and too unlikable – and I wish I hadn’t read it in some ways.

Book Review – Batman: Long Shadows

  • Title: Batman: Long Shadows
  • Author: Judd Winick
  • Artists: Mark Bagley, Ed Benes, Rob Hunter
  • Line: Post-Final Crisis (Stand-alone novel)
  • Characters: Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/14/2016

OMG – this is one of the BEST graphic novels I have ever read, and the best modern graphic novel I’ve read. One of the things I didn’t like about Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis was it’s lack of emotional resonance. I mean, (Spoiler) Batman dies and no one cares? No one even notices not even his best friend, Clark Kent (Superman)? Ah, no.

But Long Shadows makes up for that. It investigates the lost of Bruce Wayne on those who knew and cared for him best. This book had me in tears more than once. And I’ve also read it at least three times since buying it, and I rarely read graphic novels more than once.

The book begins with Superman and Wonder Woman bringing Batman’s empty and torn cape and cowl to Wayne Manor. They tell Alfred, Dick (Richard Grayson) and Tim (Drake) that Bruce has died. The rest of the story is a realistic portrayal of loss. From Alfred stating, “my son is dead, I am not all right,” to Dick saying, “I knew he wouldn’t live forever, but I wasn’t ready for him to die this soon”. This is a grim, sad story, realistically told.

I loved the interactions of Bruce’s family as they dealt with his loss.

Truly, a ground-breaking work. Perfect. And highly, highly recommended.