Good comic book story arcs tell compelling stories with eye catching visuals. Great comic book story arcs tell a compelling story with eye catching visuals all while working a couple other stories in the background. The new Nightwing series has this potential. It's not just about Dick Grayson's crime fighting and new partner, it's also about his relationship with Barbara Gordon.
Not many people know who Dick Grayson is anymore after his stint with Spyral, but Nightwing has a bit of a reputation still. Dick's days of being a spy helped him learn how to operate inside a corrupt organization. So when Dick decides to take down the Parliament of Owls he looks to his usual support structure to make sure he has backup. Someone to watch his back. He goes to Batman, and Batman tells him he is on his own. So Dick seeks out another friend whom he has had long ties with, Barbra Gordon.
Bab's and Dick have had that on again, off again relationship for years. Deep down, Dick knows he loves her, which was the very reason Helena Bertinelli said she could never be with him. Dick wants to rekindle the relationship and it seems that Barbra doesn't mind letting him twist in the wind before she lets him back into her life. She even actually asks him on date while she is beating up bad guys in Tokyo.
Dick agrees to the date, but Dick is also deep undercover. His employers at the Parliament of Owls don't appreciate what they view as shoddy work. The "Gray Son" leaves too many witnesses and spares too many lives. If he wants to keep on working for them, he needs a new partner. A new mentor. They decide that master thief and assassin Raptor should fill the role nicely.
Dick doesn't take too kindly to this. It's not that Dick's pride is hurt, he just feels that this will cause undo scrutiny. This will hamper his efforts. This gets in the way of playing the "long game." But, if he wants to bring down the bad guys, then he has to relive the role of "Boy Wonder" one more time.
It doesn't take long for their relationship to start bearing fruit. Dick, finds that he and Raptor have allot in common. Improvisational planning, fluid fighting styles, and witty banter. Raptor just seems a whole lot more comfortable with collateral damage than Nightwing.
It doesn't take long for this one very important difference to cause a schism between the two partners. Dick doesn't like giving a boat full of refugees whom they saved from an evil cult over to the Parliament of Owls who will use them as slave labor. Eventually Raptor's words are what subdue Nightwing and not his claw. Raptor reveals that he, like Dick, is playing the "long game" too, he's just better at it than Dick is. Raptor always plays the long game.
Dick seems to trust his partner now. Dick knows he needs to be fully invested in his role in order to take down the Parliament of Owls. He can't have outside concerns and desires clouding his judgement or compromising him in some way. Looks like Dick isn't above standing up Barbra one last time.
Tim Seeley continues to write interesting and evocative narrative. The dialog is funny, the story compelling, the emotions palpable, the relationships believable. These are all hard thing to do individually, next to impossible to do all together. He packs surprises around every page leading to twists in the story that I didn't see coming even though I should have.
That's high praise, and a hard act to follow for an artist. Fortunately Javier Fernandez delivers grade A goodness along with some help from Chris Sotomayor (whose work on Future Foundation I hold in the highest regard). There are some tremendous panels in this book and even a super creepy full page reveal that had me cringing... in a good way. While not every scene is a master stroke, they manage to deliver the visual gut punch when it is needed most.
In the end, we have the makings of a tremendous series. The first two comics should be read back to back, which is probably why they were released to close to each other (DC can't hold the line at 2.99 if they made it a single issue). If you haven't picked up Nightwing Rebirth, take the jump. You don't want to be left out on the ledge.