Overview: Ric Grayson responds to a call for help, Detective Svoboda investigates a murder and Sapienza starts recruiting a team.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Ric Grayson observes police and paramedics helping the assailant he beat up in the previous issue. As he reflects on how he was able to do this without thinking, the roof crumbles causing him to fall. He reacts without thinking and is able to recover with an acrobatic maneuver. He then tries to attempt another acrobatic move consciously and crashes onto the hood of his taxi.
Elsewhere, Detective Svoboda is at the coroner’s lab for the autopsy of the victim who appears to have been drowned in his bed. She steps outside the room to take a phone call as the coroner makes an incision into the body. As she talks on the phone outside, all hell breaks loose inside the lab as a mysterious gas emanates from the body causing everyone inside to attack each other. The coroner tries to attack Svoboda through the glass but she shoots and kills him.
Ric Grayson wakes up from a nightmare and finds himself surrounded by cats in the apartment he is currently squatting in. When he finds out the homeowner is returning soon, he leaves.
Three members of Bludhaven’s emergency services are summoned to a shooting range via a cryptic text from detective Sapienza. While wearing the Nightwing costume, he explains that he needs their help to fight crime in the city with Nightwing gone.
At night, Ric Grayson has dropped off his fare when he hears a cry for help over the taxi radio. He rushes to the location deep in gang territory only to find his colleague is missing with a smear of blood on the steering wheel. He looks in the trunk for some kind of weapon but only finds a rope. As he picks it up, he hears a voice telling him to stand down and let the authorities handle it. As he looks up, he sees Sapienza in the Nightwing costume holding a gun.
Analysis: To be blunt, I don’t have a whole lot of positive things to say about this issue. I’ve mentioned previously that there have been sudden changes with the creative teams of this series, but the lack of planning really shows. People buy Nightwing because they want to follow the story of Dick Grayson, but this issue doesn’t really seem to be about anything in particular. Dick or “Ric” seems to be just spinning his wheels. He says he doesn’t want to be a superhero, but he rushes off to help his friend. I also don’t know why he thinks squatting in other people’s places is acceptable behavior.
There’s quite frankly a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense in this book. Perhaps I’m being too literal in reading comic books, but I can’t say that the questions don’t constantly bounce around my brain while reading this. How and why is “Ric” on a rooftop after beating up a guy? If he isn’t a costumed vigilante anymore, it makes no sense that he’d be up there. And I still don’t get Sapienza’s grand plan. Does he really think Batman and associates won’t notice a whole crew of people running around Bludhaven in Nightwing costumes? How do all the Nightwing costumes fit everyone perfectly? Also, why is Ric’s friend in dispatch also driving a taxi at the same time? I confess I don’t know much about taxis, but I don’t think this is how they work.
It feels like the mysterious murder was introduced ages ago and we are still no closer to it having any impact on the story whatsoever. To this point, it appears like there are three separate stories going on right now and none of them have any substantial connection to each other. This might be changing a bit with the ending of this issue, but I’m still having a hard time seeing how the murder features into all this. I don’t want this to sound like I’m criticizing Lobdell as a writer because I think he is doing an excellent work with Red Hood. It’s just that this series seems really lost right now and I hope it finds some consistency soon.
The art is unfortunately not any better than the story and it’s really not my taste. Mooneyham did a decent job creating an 80’s Blade Runner vibe with the Wyrm story but a lot of the lines in this story just seem overemphasized. A lot of the shapes and bodies are misshapen, the colors seem too desaturated and there is an excessive use of shadows that obscure too many details. Ric also looks way older than he actually is.
Final Thoughts: A very disjointed narrative with art that doesn’t do the characters justice.