To me, Back to Blüdhaven is the real start of Nightwing’s Rebirth run. Better than Batman had a feel of a prologue whereas Volume 2 now begins a new story in the setting that Nightwing is probably going to be in until the writers/artists change over. I mention this in almost every review or article where Nightwing is involved – as a character, Dick Grayson is one of my favourites and my experience with him has mostly been during his time as Batman in Black Mirror, Batman Reborn and Batman Vs. Robin as well as during crossover events. I was excited with Back to Bludhaven as I could finally see his solo stuff and what he was like, and I am not disappointed.
Volume 2: Back to Bludhaven collects Nightwing #9-#15.
The premise is that Nightwing want a fresh start to find himself and feels that he needs to leave Gotham to do so, Seeley does drag it out a bit somewhat but it doesn’t take long for him to settle in and don the mask and tights. Cleverly, just as he gets there a parallel occurs where a group of former super villains have also moved to Bludhaven for the same reason – a group known as the “Run-offs” which includes Mouse, Stallion, Thrill Devil, Giz and The Defacer. Many of whom Nightwing is well aware of or directly crossed paths in Gotham City. I found this to be a very original and well written plot line – these guys are genuinely wanting to make a fresh start but are still kicking around with their costumes, just like Nightwing.
The plot line is a simple one to follow, there have been a series of murders and the Run-Offs are being framed for it. Nightwing, being one of the Bat-Family with the biggest hearts tries to help them out and he sees in them a true desire to change. If you’re looking for non stop thrills then Back to Bludhaven won’t give you that and perhaps Batman Rebirth is what you’re after but as the story hums along you get a grasp of how human the character of Dick Grayson/Nightwing is. He is a people person, a crimefighter and ultimately a very good person who sees the best in people as opposed to Batman who strives for justice.
It’s a halfway house between an action plot and a detective one. Light hearted with a couple of action scenes and others with investigation work, however as you keep reading on you realise that all that’s been going on with the murders and the Run-Offs is a subplot to the real plot – Nightwing’s attempt at a fresh start and a fresh relationship.
In the mix there are a couple of great moments such as the Mayor Madrigal rescue and in particular the very brief but very touching encounter with Batgirl on top of the bridge. The pacing starts to slow down big time once the main plot line is concluded (not much of a twist) and Dick gets close to Shawn, this part I thought was great but didn’t need to be as long as it was. However, the final panel did make me pick up Nightwing Must Die straight away.
This part of the story is likely the deciding factor between whether or not you will enjoy the book as a whole. As I said before, it does drag on a bit and it does raise the question of why Nightwing would get involved with another girl considering his checkered past. However, isn’t that what makes Dick Grayson such a relatable and well liked character in the first place?
The artwork is pretty solid throughout with my only bug bear being the colours going from bold and bright to watered down, I much preferred the bolder colours but would have preferred consistency even more.
Overall, Back To Bludaven is a solid book throughout that those who are after a character with heart will enjoy. It isn’t action packed or full of suspense, the characters could be seen as ‘second rate’ but the quality of the writing and art isn’t.
Last update on 2019-02-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API