The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected every facet of life as we know it. The comic book industry has been hit particularly hard; it practically came to a standstill for several weeks and, even when it resumed some semblance of normalcy, delays and cancellations have continued to rock publishers. These reasons, along with several other factors like work, stress, and burnout, explain why I didn’t crack open a comic book for two months during the heart of the pandemic. It suddenly became hard to find the energy to keep up with various series, especially as more and more issues came out.
Recently, Marvel and DC have resumed semi-regular publication of their main series, which was the perfect opportunity to dive back in. I gradually regained my appreciation for comic books, but it wasn’t until I read Nightwing #71 (on sale June 9) that I fully remembered why I love comics in the first place.
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Color Artist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: AndWorld Design
The last few months of Nightwing have been hit or miss, as Ric Grayson has been forced to forge a new life after he lost his memory of his previous identity. Writer Dan Jurgens has taken Nightwing in a new direction. Sometimes, shaking it up can breathe new life into our favorite heroes, but it can also leave us begging for the good old days. That’s why the sight of Ric battling the Joker in this week’s issue was so satisfying; finally, we might be on the cusp of getting Dick Grayson back.
DC has announced that Batman and Grayson will reunite in the upcoming “Joker War’ storyline, and Jurgens brilliantly sets the stage for this team-up. Everything about this issue screams “epic showdown waiting to happen.” Artist Ronan Cliquet shows the Joker wearing a blood-stained shred Nightwing’s costume and carrying a crowbar as he emerges from the shadows. Jurgens quickly establishes that once again, the Joker’s plan is as terrifying as his appearance. With a close-up of the Clown Prince of Crime’s maniacal smile, he explains how he’s come to help Grayson: “I know more about you than you know about you,” he says. “I’m here to help you remember.”
Tempting Grayson with the ability to remember his lost identity is a cruel gambit by the Joker, and his masterful manipulation puts Nightwing’s mind right in his hands. The Joker ratchets up this deception until it reaches a thrilling climax; Cliquet shows the Clown Prince of Crime looking like the devil himself as he dangles the crystal holding the ability to alter Grayson’s memories in front of the hero. Color artist Nick Filardi makes the moment even more cinematic as he shows radiant lights colorfully reflecting off the crystal, adding a dream-like quality to the scene. The closing panel is even more powerful, and it leaves the issue on a cliffhanger that leaves us begging for more.
Filardi subtly shows the crystal reflecting purple while the Joker holds it in front of Grayson’s face, which suggests that the Joker is corrupting the memories it contains. The image, complete with another close-up of the Joker’s diabolical grin and his wicked eyes, compliments Jurgens’ dialogue: “Let me tell you about a little boy whose parents died in the circus,” the Joker says. “Allow me to tell you about his life.” The Joker is going to rewrite Grayson’s history, which could have Earth-shaking consequences for the Bat Family.
This electrifying ending has me champing at the bit for “Joker War,” which is a star change of pace from where I stood just a few months ago. I was keeping up with Tom King’s Batman run and increasingly rolling my eyes as the “City of Bane” arc perpetually disappointed. Even when James Tynion IV took over the series, the damage was done; though I had always been a huge Bat Fan, I was tired of the typical stories featuring the Dark Knight. But with Nightwing #71, and the promise of a fascinating “Joker War,” my love for Batman has been renewed. Given that the Caped Crusader was my gateway into comics, it’s only natural that my passion for superheroes themselves has been reignited.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still drastically affecting every aspect of life, and generally, we’re living in chaotic times. So we all need a reliable form of escape. I’m very appreciative that Nightwing #71 reminded me why I love comics, and I will gladly dive back into the wild, wonderful world where superheroes offer us bright beacons of hope when we need them the most.
Check out your local comic shop to see if you can pick up Nightwing #71 there.
What books have reignited your love for comics?