Review by Chris Clow
The following arc will be available as a trade paperback in-store on November 5th!
The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul was a transitioning point where the Robin and Nightwing titles are concerned. For Nightwing, Marv Wolfman finished (what ended up being) a relatively lackluster run on the title, and handed off the reins to Fabian Nicieza for the two parts that intersected with the Resurrection storyline. Many fans in the good ol' Comics Place were surprised at the quality coming out of Nicieza's two issues on Grayson's book, but I was a little nervous knowing he wasn't staying onboard after the Resurrection parts were completed.
That is, until I heard who was coming on as the new regular writer.
Peter J. Tomasi, an editor for the better part of 15 years at DC Comics, had been a fill-in writer from time to time on such titles as JSA, The Outsiders, Steel and his own creator owned miniseries The Light Brigade. In 2003, he was promoted to the role of senior editor, and worked on JSA, Aquaman, Hawkman, and most notably Green Lantern and Batman. Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver attribute much of the credit for Green Lantern's current success to the mind of Tomasi, as he was an essential part of the brain trust that saw Hal Jordan's rebirth and the war with the Sinestro Corps.
Last year, in a relatively unexpected move, Tomasi resigned his editor position to become a regular writer with an exclusive DC contract. He was appointed the regular writer on two monthly titles: Green Lantern Corps (which he helped revive 18 months prior) and Nightwing. He joined GLC at the tail end of the Sinestro Corps War, in an issue featuring a knock down drag out brawl between Superboy-Prime and the new Ion, Sodam Yat. (Jump on the Wikipedia if those names are unfamiliar to you, it's good stuff. -Chris) Tomasi's other major work for DC, Final Crisis: Requiem, was particularly terrific because he gave meaning to a death in the main Crisis series that we didn't have time to really process. A fitting end considering the way the Martian Manhunter went out, especially with the final scene between the Manhunter's lifeless body and our favorite Dark Knight.
Then, his first issue of Nightwing came about with issue #140, which kicked off a seven-issue storyline entitled, "Freefall." I was immediately impressed with the first issue. If anyone had any doubts about Dick Grayson's place in the Batman family, they were put to rest. We start with a conversation between Bruce, Tim, and Dick which features Bruce opening up to them and telling them how important they are to him. How he would trust them with his very life in any situation. We're even given insight into Dick's relationship with Superman. The title gets it's name from something Dick does to relax. He goes up to the very top of the atmosphere and jumps; An extreme form of skydiving. He always feels safe swinging around the streets of New York, because there's usually a flying hero within earshot that can catch him when he falls. He says this is the closest he'll get to feeling the same way he did while in the circus doing a death drop: it was thrilling.
We're then thrown into the story. When the bodies of fallen villains begin to disappear, Nightwing is drawn into a conspiracy involving Talia al Ghul and a deranged doctor. Along the way we see Superman (whom Tomasi writes exceptionally well), other Batman family members, and of course Talia. Tomasi crafts an inaugural tale that single-handedly puts Wolfman's run to shame, and makes us believe in Dick Grayson as a beacon for the DCU. In his own way, Batman even looks up to him. One part in particular caught me:
Dick saves a couple from falling to their death, and spends time with them, letting them hug him and laugh together, before taking off. Batman doesn't do that. Robin or Batgirl don't, and even Superman rarely does. But Nightwing is different. He can afford to, and he's that much more heroic for being "that guy."
I highly encourage anyone to read this story. The current story tieing into Batman R.I.P. is suffering slightly, but I believe that's because it's most likely an editorial mandate. When it passes, Mr. Tomasi will be able to spread his wings again and give us a tale that surely rivals this one.