Is it possible I’m starting to turn around on this NIGHTWING arc? I can’t believe it, but I think I’m enjoying the current direction…

Nightwing 57
Written by Scott Lobdell and Zack Kaplan
Pencils and Inks by Travis Moore
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain and Nick Filardi

It’s taken a lot to get me on board with the current direction this book is taking. Dick Grayson spent a good chunk of time out of the Nightwing costume during the New 52 era, after he was presumed to be dead after the Geoff Johns-written FOREVER EVIL crossover. Dick Grayson the man may have survived, but Nightwing fell by the wayside so that Batman’s protege could become super secret agent man and more freely investigate bad guys on a global scale.

So taking Grayson out of the costume again – this time after he’s shot in the head by the anachronistically-named KGBeast in BATMAN 55 – feels like it’s too soon to go back to that well. But at least there’s been a different hook this time around, introducing new characters and a new concept for Nightwing, as a team of Bl├╝dhaven police have taken on the identity to do some extracurricular work cleaning up the city.

But that all kind of takes a back seat in this issue, for the most part, as Lobdell and Kaplan instead on Grayson’s budding romance with Bea the bartender and her activist streak. She’s fighting to keep a homeless shelter open while the local City Councilman wants to shut it down to build a parking lot for a new sports arena. Don’t worry, the Councilman gets what’s coming to him when he’s attacked by the newly-arrived Joker’s Daughter. I’m sure that will get more focus in the next issue.

Instead of a superhero fight, we get Bea returning to her bar while Grayson (seriously, I refuse to call him Ric) goes back to the taxi company where he works. Grayson gets a visit from Detective Sapienza, the cop who’s taken over his Nightwing identity. But the more interesting scene is at the bar, where Bea is confronted by Barbara Gordon.

Babs is another character who has gone through some shifting in the Rebirth era. With the new run of her book under writer Mairghread Scott, Batgirl has lost a little bit of the fun of her Burnside run and seems to have aged in attitude about 5-10 years. At the least the continuity in the ancillary Bat-books holds here, as she carries herself the way she does in her own book.

She’s at Bea’s bar to talk to her about Grayson, to make sure he’s OK and to work through her own feelings of missing her friend. It’s a little frustrating that the relationship between the two that seemed to be budding before the gunshot is being cast aside, but that seems to be the way things go between Dick and Babs.

Only one more issue to go in Lobdell’s run on NIGHTWING, with Dan Jurgens taking over the book with issue 59. His involvement pretty much guarantees I’ll be sticking around for a while, but it’s still amazing how I’ve turned around on Lobdell’s run.