Sunday, May 7, 2017

Comic Book Review: Nightwing #20 "Nightwing Must Die, Finale"

By: Jerry Montgomery
May 6, 2017

Nightwing #20
“Nightwing Must Die, Finale”

Written by: Tim Seeley
Artwork by: Javier Fernandez

Nightwing #20 and it's final chapter of the “Nightwing Must Die” story arc is just that, the end of a 5 part story. Before I go on,  I'll have to introduce  some of it's  major
players along the way. This is the Rebirth universe of DC so all characters have been reinvented of a sort. If you've got any knowledge the Rebirth event and consequences of “The Button” discovery in the Batcave, you know that 10 years time has been set back for the entire DC universe. That means that 10 years have been erased from every character. Therefore, all versions…pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, Flashpoint and New 52 are gone. Whatever or whomever is responsible has erased all knowledge from all, though a few characters are aware of previous realities. Batman, the Flash, Kid Flash and now Superman, know that something isn’t right.

Way back in Nightwing #16, the “Nightwing Must Die” story arc began. Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul and grandson of Ras Al Ghul, is the current Robin.  Damien is brash, argumentative at times and more violent aVand capable than any of the other Robins.  What can you expect, having been trained by the League of Assassins  and then getting dropped into the lap of his father, Batman? He's not happy with Nightwing’s online popularity,  even more so that he's referred to as the first and best Robin and way annoyed with the assumption that he will be Batman one day. So, off to Bludhaven, that rank and rough city that Nightwing operates out of, a jealous Damien (give him a break, he's only 10 years old!) goes. Also, Nightwing’s relationship with his girlfriend, Shawn Tsang, the reformed villainess, Defacer gets a little more complicated when she tells him she's late (As in “that time of the month”, late.). Shawn is kidnapped by an unseen assailant later in the book and the now cadaverous looking Deathwing dispatches a gang of robbers with extreme prejudice.  Dick and Damien agree to work together in solving this one, just like old times.

Issue #17 finds our heroes in Paris, France, where the clues have led them. It was revealed that Deathwing was behind the abduction of Shawn. Who is Deathwing? He is the future Nightwing, more violent and ruthless. Given the memories of the real Dick Grayson, Deathwing is uncertain of what his real name is, only that is the corrupted version of the original. Here, he looks like a walking corpse, dressed in the New 52 costume of Nightwing. Naturally, Nightwing and Damien find Deathwing ir us it the other way around? Anyway, the fighting commences within some empty catacombs and Damien gets locked in an empty tomb. Nightwing is slashed across the forehead with an odd-looking dagger and as the first drop of blood hits the ground, he begins to hallucinate all versions of himself across the multiverses. What's up with that knife? How could it do that? Deathwing is ready to deliver the final blow to Nightwing but is interrupted by Robin…but not any Robin we know. Odd-Robin begins to battle Deathwing and by this time, Damien has freed himself and joins the fray.  Nightwing gathers his wits and he and Damien proceed to beat their doubles. It is then that odd-Robin reveals that both he and Deathwing are Dollotrons. The products of Professor Pyg, the mad surgeon that wears a pig mask and uses unconventional instruments to adhere doll masks to his mind altered creations. But where is Shawn?

Nightwing #18 opens up with Dick and Damien busting into Professor Pyg’s hideout, some abandoned foundry to save Shawn.  Deathwing convinces Dollotron Robin free him from his bonds and then promptly kills him for his troubles. Damien and Dick defeat Professor Pyg and free Shawn but cant help but wonder how he has created such complicated Dollotrons.  It is then that the Professor reveals a powerful player that has been pulling the strings all along. One that he has been creating these “imperfect” Dollotrons for. While Dick reunites with Shawn, Deathwing separates Damien from them and kidnaps him. As for that powerful person behind the scenes? Its Dr. Simon Hurt and Deathwing has delivered Damien right to him.

Who is Dr. Hurt? Well, he has claimed to be everything
from Thomas Wayne, ancestor of Bruce and Damien from the 1700's, to an actual demon to a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. He's been called many things, black sheep, satanist…even the Devil himself. He features prominently in issue #19 of Nightwing and his plan is to sacrifice Damien at dawn as part of some blood ritual. Dick and Shawn have followed the clues to Egypt to save Damian. Here it's revealed the true power of that mystical dagger in which Nightwing was slashed with. Rather than showing all versions of a person, it instead reveals all possible versions, of course, all evil. After the near death of Shawn,  the severe beating and stabbbing of Deathwing with that magic dagger, Nightwing confronts Dr. Hurt, who has apparently already sacrificed Damien and falls through the floor right into…hell.

So, issue #20 and the finale of the “Nightwing Must Die” story arc wraps it all up but is certainly setting up something big for the future…something wicked this way comes. Deathwing finally gets some clarity and insight into who he is and why even though he cannot remember who he is with the help of Shawn. Nightwing too ,while under the effects of the “Nothing Blade, is able to come to grips with what makes him different from Batman and what part of the Batman legacy is his to pass on. This realization is the breakthrough which allows him to defeat Dr. Hurt. Hurt, in the throes of defeat, reveals that he is afraid, as powerful and evil as he is, of something that's coming and Deathwing  performs an act of redemption for the pain he had on others with mysterious results. Damian, Shawn and Dick return to Bludhaven where Shawn finally addresses her pregnancy issue of is she or isn’t she? and Damien hashes it out with Dick to forge a new alliance of teamwork and friendship.

The Verdict: At this point in time, it would most definitely be helpful to have read  some of the previous issues to fully understand what's going on in this one. I like the reintroduction of some of DC's obscure characters from the past, brought in to be more than just an interim fill in between other story arcs. Also good is a possible tie in with the Batman cross-title event, “Dark Nights: Metal” coming with a chance of Dr. Hurts reappearance and something big. Building on Rebirth, this summer event is planned to push characters beyond their potential to a place where their courage is tested and persevere in the face of evil as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo reunite to further transform the DC universe. If you're a fan of any of the Batman titles, you really can't go wrong with Nightwing.

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