Collected Editions has had some technical difficulties, but we should be back up and running now. Looking for lots of reviews coming soon!
For a superhero crime drama, a la Wanted, Nightwing: Mobbed Up is actually pretty good. The bad guys are both likable and crooked, the hero's moral dilemma is both clear and compelling, and writer Devin Grayson makes us care for the new, non-powered supporting cast with surprising quickness. Where the book has trouble is that it's not a terrible compelling Nightwing story; when one only has to look as far as the first volume of Batman: Under the Hood to see Batman and Nightwing getting along, it's difficult to take Nightwing's supposed resignation of his mantle seriously. Taken on it's own merits, however, Mobbed Up is interesting, if somewhat light, reading.
After a series of bad incidents, Dick Grayson has seemingly set aside his Nightwing identity and joined the Fertitta crime family in New York, in an attempt to learn who the new power will be in Bludhaven after Blockbuster's death. Dick ends up working for Black Mask, but his plans to infiltrate the new Secret Society are complicated when he finds that Deathstroke is involved--and Deathstroke knows Dick's identity. Meanwhile, the mob family that Dick's grown close to is raided by the police, and Dick is charged with finding their missing daughter.
Given that most of the characters in Mobbed Up are brand-new, and likely none will appear after One Year Later, Devin Grayson does a good job of making us care for them. Given the mobster undercurrent, the characters are often simultaneously normal and dangerously strange, like the father-figure who doesn't hesitate to pull a gun on one of his cohorts, or the young daughter with a stalker-esque crush on Dick Grayson. In this story, Devin Grayson uses the characters well to set the mood. At the same time, I sometimes found myself confused both as to who was who, and who worked for who--there aren't any biography pages here, and Devin Grayson takes little time to explain mob hierarchy, not to mention that most of the characters are balding, gray-haired men.
Late in the story, Nightwing encounters Robin, and it's a scene both well-written, and unfortunately whiny. It's a nice chance for Devin Grayson, through Dick, to reflect on the growth of the Tim Drake character over the more-than ten years since he came on the scene, and it also offers some continuity bits in the mentions of Bruce Wayne's potential adoption of Tim. From there, however, the narrative quickly devolves. As during War Games, Devin Grayson writes Dick with uncharacteristic self-pity and even more, a wallowing self-pity that I think most readers wouldn't connect with the Dick Grayson character; it's hard to feel for Dick in these moments, and again, it's even harder to take seriously Dick's claim that he's done with being Nightwing, when we know we'll find him in Infinite Crisis just around the corner.
Nightwing: Mobbed Up is greatly buffeted by the art of Phil Hester and Ande Parks (how Green Arrow misses thee!), which helps some of the slower parts of the story. There are a surprising amount of non-dialogued fight scenes in this trade, and they might seem a waste if not for Hester and Parks gorgeous choreographing. For a crime drama, again, Devin Grayson continues to prove herself an able storyteller--one gets the sense perhaps that she's too close to this particular character to really be objective with him. But if nothing else, Mobbed Up is a nice set-up for the super-villainy promised in part two, and not a terrible read if you can get it on the cheap.
[Contains full covers, biography pages, "What Came Before" section.]
I'm on to a Geoff Johns-Flash retrospective, toward Flash: Rogue War. From there, Villains United. More reviews soon!