Writer: Tim Seeley / Artist: Javier Fernandez / DC Comics
The quality of a Batfamily story can often be gauged by looking at how the protagonist deals with the found family they surround themselves with and the city that they choose to call home. If you have been following Seeley’s run on Nightwing, it should come as no surprise that the conclusion to Raptor’s Revenge is a fantastic story by any standard and a fitting end to this leg of Dick Grayson’s heroic journey.
This issue is a love letter to all of the disparate elements that both Nightwing and the reader have been introduced since last July. The final climatic showdown between Raptor and Nightwing is set up through an oddly beautiful expositional monologue from Defacer that’s careens into the natural glib you’d expect from an ex-supervillian, now-kinda-superhero.
Seeley and Fernandez really follow through giving us Bludhaven at its breaking point. Bouncing back and forth between the rooftops duels and the chaos on the street level, we get a sense of urgency and tension that feels palpable and when the two converge, it’s a truly surreal experience. We’ve seen the Nightwing v. Raptor brawl and the Run-Offs work together before, but those were merely the prototypes for these encounters. In this issue, we see the conclusion of each of the characters’ arcs, the veritas behind what makes them tick. Fernandez’s artwork and Sotomayor’s color are cinematic in the best possible way, with each panel perfectly conveying the unique kinematics of each character, contrasted best between Roland’s sluggish fully body antics, Raptor’s unbridled aggression, and Nightwing’s tranquil fury.
However, the true standout moment is the falling action of the issue, and Seeley’s run as a whole. Throughout all of the arcs, Seeley has repeatedly asked questions that I, as a Midwest transplant, have often mused. What happens when you fall in love with someone from a city you feel like a stranger in? What happens when you fall in love with the city? What happens when that someone, or that city, doesn’t love back you in that same way? What does it take to find a new home?
After 34 issues, we get Nightwing’s answers to those questions. After 34 issues, we get to reflect on our own answers because of it. A fitting end to a series so grounded in revealing character through a myriad of reflections.
Reading Nightwing? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.