Tom Taylor is a writer that I have been paying more attention to over the last year or so. His Suicide Squad was decent and engaging. But his DCeased was incredible. What could have been a gimicky DC version of Marvel Zombies was instead a riveting, devastating, funny, and moving story. The core reason why Taylor's stories work is because he understands the characters.
Taylor put these classic characters into extreme situations in DCeased, but everything they did, even when they acted in ways different than in their normal series, had a resonance with all we knew about them before the zombie apocalypse. Villains like Deathstroke believable could evolve into something like a hero without feeling false, because Taylor did not force an alien personality onto the character, but instead hit the character's pressure points so that their evolution was believable.
My point is that in an age when many comic book writers simply impose whatever personality they desire onto the characters they write, it is refreshing to have a writer who takes the character on his own terms.
And that is what you get with Nightwing #78.
Dick Grayson, as a character, has been through the ringer. Because of Tom King, he got shot through the head and became an cynical amnesiac named "Ric Grayson." While creative team on Nightwing did a decent job with the premise they were given, they were not writing the hero we all know and love. Because this character is near and dear to me, I have continued buying the book, despite its flaws. But I have good news for Nightwing fans:
Tom Taylor has brought back the real Dick Grayson and it is wonderful.
Dick is back in Bludhaven and is doing his best to clean up the streets. His personality has always been a foil to Batman. Whereas Bruce is sullen and imposing, Dick is light and quippy. I even like the tongue-in-cheek mocking of the recent "Ric Grayson" story that Taylor inserts. There is a humor that is intrinsic to the original Robin that makes him so charismatic and likable. At the start of the story, we see Dick getting back to basics as his endless bank account has evaporated along with the Wayne fortune. However, in the issues most touching moment, Dick receives an unexpected letter that changes his direction.
Back too is Blockbuster, the hulking genius mobster intent on ruling Bludhaven. I like the fact that Taylor is taking us back to the roots of Chuck Dixon's iconic run on the character. Taylor delves even deeper into the Nightwing mythos, setting up some truly interesting conflicts down the way.
Artist Bruno Redondo (along with Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott) do a wonderful job. Unlike a typical Bat-book, most of the action here takes place in the daylight, which fits thematically with the new dawn of the character. There is a fantastic two-page spread that I stared at for a good long while. This creative team understands that comics are a visual medium and they can be transportive. The double-splash page conveyed a sense of grandeur, joy, and freedom. For a moment, you feel like Dick seemingly weightless, tumbling through the air.
If I had one quibble it would be that the adult Barbara Gordon is played just a little too cutesy in how she talks. But this could be a simple humorous affectation as she becomes enamored of a rescue dog that Dick brings back to the apartment.
I don't know where the story is going, but Taylor has earned enough trust and good will from me that I will be eagerly anticipating each issue that comes out.