Batman and Superman are yesterday’s news. In Nightwing #89 by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, the sons of the World’s Finest unite in the first chapter of a two-part crossover with Superman: Son of Kal-El. Nightwing #89 brings a wholesome look at what makes Dick Grayson and Jon Kent stand out from their father figures while also highlighting their strengths as individual heroes. Nightwing #89 is a fun-filled team-up that captures the timeless energy of books like The Brave and The Bold and reminds readers that DC’s legacy characters are amongst the finest heroes in comics when handled effectively.
Nightwing #89 opens with a flashback to Nightwing and Jon Kent’s first interaction. Despite the substantial age difference between the two heroes, Dick’s kindness endeared him to Jon, laying the foundation for their relationship. The issue then jumps back to the present day and shows Jon seeking guidance from a computer program based on his father. Kelex, the robotic protector of the Fortress of Solitude, sees that the virtual Superman isn’t meeting Jon’s needs and reaches out to Dick for help. Unfortunately, Nightwing and Jon’s reunion is interrupted by reports of mysterious forces murdering multiple heroes. Worse, as they investigate a crime scene connected to the death of former Teen Titan, Risk, they discover that these attacks point towards the involvement of Metropolis’ most-notorious billionaire — Lex Luthor!
Since taking over Nightwing early last year, Tom Taylor has juxtaposed Dick Grayson’s endless optimism against a city where peril lurks behind every corner. In doing so, Taylor has reinvented the series without a convoluted status quo and helped bring Dick out of the shadows of his mentor, Batman. Nightwing #89 continues this arc, pairing Dick with the similarly-optimistic Jon. This team-up gives Dick a chance to become a voice of authority and further distance himself from the Bat-Family by venturing into the scenic streets of Metropolis. While the pairing between the two young heroes is wholesome fun, Taylor builds a compelling threat and ties together threads from both solo titles.
Similarly, Bruno Redondo’s versatile artistry is incredible throughout Nightwing #89. Redondo’s linework is clean, detailed, and filled with personality. Every character comes across as a fully-formed individual. The issue’s opening highlights this feat, as Redondo seamlessly distinguishes Superman, Batman, and Nightwing. Though the three men all have similar builds and jet black hair, everybody has a different presence. Bruce hunches over with an unwarranted intensity whereas Dick has a disarming posture and Clark radiates confidence. These physical personas reflect the characters and help enhance Taylor’s script. Furthermore, Adriano Lucas’ rich colors make the world of Nightwing #89 come to life, casting each environment in different hues — such as the icy blues of the Fortress of Solitude. These touches distinguish the shifts from one scene to the next and reinforce the identities of each environment.
Wes Abbott’s lettering is an understated yet vital factor in Nightwing #89’s success. Multiple moments in the issue hinge on the effectiveness of Abbott’s work, such as when Dick’s dog, Haley, alerts him to Kelex’s presence. Since there is no volume in a comic, readers rely on the lettering to distinguish whether this is a loud bark or a subtle sound. As such, Abbott’s work conveys the emotional weight of the moment, showing that this sudden noise is a playful exchange before readers even have to read the dialogue. In contrast, Abbott creates a foreboding tone through Jon’s line read of “Luthor” on the final page by placing the word in a large bubble. This decision causes readers to subconsciously pause when reading the name, making it clear that Dick and Jon are unhappy with their realization.
Nightwing #89 is a perfect comic. Taylor’s script reflects his excellent understanding of Dick and Jon. Redondo’s characters are expressive and exciting. Lucas’ colors create an immersive world, and Abbott’s lettering carries the weight of the issue’s emotional beats. As the World’s Finest’s sons continue their team-up in Superman: Son of Kal-El #9, readers can rest easy knowing both characters are in good hands.
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