Review: Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)


The Rebirth Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge marks the final Nightwing volume by writer Tim Seeley. This is assuredly the end of an era, as Seeley was one of the writers of Grayson, which not so much reimagined Nightwing Dick Grayson as honed him into something leaner and more mature (though not less fun). Seeley and Tom King's Nightwing nee Grayson has been to an extent the kind of twentysomething, dashing Dick Grayson that writers have tried to get to for a while without it necessarily carrying over (Judd Winick's Outsiders is one example, and I'd argue Devin Grayson's Titans is another). Seeley and King seem to have made it stick, however, at least in part from Seeley shepherding the character back to his superhero roots and evidenced by the presence of artist Javier Fernandez and others, whose stylings represent more than just standard superheroics in the book's aesthetic.

I worried at the end of Nightwing Vol. 4: Blockbuster how Seeley could wrap up all his dangling storylines with just one volume left to go. The answer is "well, but unfortunately." Seeley brings together four distinct strands here, unexpectedly making them all one story. This is interesting as a demonstration of how the characters in this book might have interweaved had Seeley continued, and makes for a multi-layered plot, but surprisingly in the end Seeley takes certain characters off the table. That's a satisfactory wrap up, so to speak, but it closes off avenues of the Nightwing mythos for other writers (at least until someone else writes their way around it).

[Review contains spoilers]

The end of the previous Nightwing volume foreshadowed Dick's arch-nemesis (frenemesis?) Raptor returning; plus Seeley had brought back previous-continuity Nightwing foe Blockbuster, as well as teased trouble with Dick's ex-girlfriend Shawn "Defacer" Tsang and her mentor the Pigeon. How, I wondered, could Seeley give adequate deference to Blockbuster in his final volume with Raptor also on the scene? What Seeley does well here is to team Nightwing with Blockbuster against Raptor and, as it turns out, Pigeon, such that Blockbuster becomes not enemy but grudging ally (for the second time, actually). That's a more than adequate solution for keeping Blockbuster on the page -- especially since Blockbuster has been so important in Nightwing runs past and would presumably still be important here.

Not so, however, because just six pages from the end, Seeley's Nightwing suddenly strips him of his powers and sends him off to jail. Incoming writers Sam Humphries or Benjamin Percy could bring Blockbuster right back, to be sure, but there's a somewhat unfortunate sense of Seeley clearing the decks. Though he does not take Nightwing out of Bludhaven, the city of Bludhaven and Blockbuster are nearly synonymous. Now that Seeley has spent five volumes getting Nightwing back into Bludhaven and setting up his friends and foes, it's startling for him to remove Blockbuster just that quickly (also whether the constantly career-changing Dick will keep dealing blackjack now that Blockbuster no longer owns the casino). Seeley's run has a definite end, but in some respects I wish his end had been a little more open-ended.

Seeley suggests that Raptor has died at the end of this book, but then he also suggests that Raptor may be Dick Grayson's true father. I take neither one of these too seriously; a change like Dick Grayson not being Dick "Grayson" seems unlikely something DC would do, and Raptor could be as easily resurrected by the Court of Owls as by some other method. These two things would seem to go hand-in-hand of course; it's unlikely the Nightwing title would address Dick's parentage without Raptor coming back, and then Raptor coming back also seems unlikely at least without Seeley. Unless some other enterprising writer picks it up, my guess is that's the last we'll hear of it for a while unless Seeley returns some day to revisit the character (and a Grayson reunion is totally something we need).

I was glad to see a heavy contribution by the Run-Offs in Raptor's Revenge, being a group of reformed B-list supervillains who are actually a collection of Chuck Dixon's old one-note Nightwing antagonists. Their repurposed presence in this title is a delight and I very much hope Sam Humphries or Benjamin Percy uses them, at least. Something about having Thrill Devil and Orca back on the page this time really tickled me.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge

The collection that follows Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge will be the first time in over three years that Tim Seeley hasn't been writing Dick Grayson's regular series. Seeley and Tom King's has been can't-miss work, well deserving of the Grayson omnibus among other accolades. Other writers will have big shoes to fill; it's not as though the character of Dick Grayson has changed all that much, but the tonality of his adventures has, and I'm eager to see the next writers preserve the same.

[Includes original and variant covers, designs and sketches]

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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Indeed the end of an era. Seeley managed to make Nightwing's adventures as excellent as they've ever been. A hard act to follow. Hopefully DC keeps up the quality.

  2. Do you think you need to have read Grayson to appreciate this run?

    1. I don't think so. There are a few throwbacks to Grayson and Robin War towards the beginning, but nothing too substantial. All of the really substantial plot threads start and end within the run.

    2. Seconded. What you *might* need is some familiarity with Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin; there's a volume that throws back to that just the same as there's one that throws back to Grayson and Robin War.

    3. Thanks for the response. I think I'm going to order volume one and see what I think.

    4. On the other hand, great excuse to go read Grayson!

  3. I think Seeley really cleared too much off the table here. Raptor was tailor-made for a prolonged rivalry. Blockbuster had more depth here than he did in Dixon's run, and had a lot of potential as a recurring element of Bludhaven. The relationship with Huntress was also ended way too early.

    1. I forgot about the relationship with Huntress. Not that that was going to last, but another good example of clearing the board before the next team. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think we liked this status quo.)


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