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Nightwing #42 (SPOILERS)

"Tonight's the Nite"
Dixon (w), Land and Zicher (p), McKenna (i)
reviewed by JYD

GREG LAND'S ARTWORK BRINGS AN ELEMENT OF REALISM (WELL, MORE OR LESS) THAT IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF ANY COMIC BOOK.

Ignore the fact that every single one of Greg Land's female characters are members of Fox Force Five. What they have a certain dynamism not seen in comics today. The characters are REAL--the poses they strike, the emotions lighting up on their face, their demeanor. Damn, this comic does look good. As I said in my review of #41, "Nightwing" has a completely different look and feel to its artwork--gone is McDaniel's stylish zing and zang, now we have a style of artwork that works to bring specific looks to each situation it describes. For instance, the barroom scene (pgs. 1-4) are vastly different from, say, pg. 5 when Dick and Clancy walk down an alleyway, or even pg. 14 where Dick changes into his NW costume and chats with Oracle. This is a very good thing--the expressions change, the lighting and shadowing is different. I loved Scott's exploration of contrasts, it's just that Land's work, I feel, fits the direction of the storyline more. There are those who lament the fact that Scott is now working on "Batman"--I think both books benefited overall--Scott's work has made "Batman" dynamic again, Land has made "Nightwing" strut in style.

Now, onto the story. The coloring again works wonders with the mood the story is working on. Nite-Wing becomes a darker character, the violence gives out chills, the bad guys become even badder. I don't know if this kid can be straightened out--hell, I don't know if Dick should even TRY. Nite-Wing is at the same line Jean Paul Valley was at when he was running around as Az-Bats. This kid should be incarcerated, not reformed. What we're seeing when he runs a car into a lightpole (pgs. 7-8) is his true nature. If ever there was a true villain, it's this bruiser. Overall, I feel this issue hasn't really improved on the previous one. They both feel like transition issues--like the big deal is coming soon, but we haven't quite got there yet. Blockbuster's condition is worsening, of course, and Nite-Wing is still working for the Chief (albeit their relationship is falling apart), but an overall THEME to this issue still is missing. I feel like I'm watching one of those episodes of ER where the entire purpose is to merely advance the various sub-plots (Tad taking out Mr. Noone) and introduce others (like the Interpol player, and this new mook named Arnot working for Redhorn). No attention is paid to creating a resolvable storyline. I guess that's OK, but in looking out for first-time readers, it's a bit difficult to leap right in w/out a little background lessons. I also still think a 4 page primer to get newer readers caught up is needed--all those graphic novels are a bit pricey.

But you got to give it to Dixon to string us along. Shoot! Torque looks good when drawn by Land, don't he?

The Straight Dope: The feel is maintained, the story moves along--why complain?

The JYD's grade: "Nightwing" #42--B+