“The Moment That Shaped Him”, “Night Out”, and “The Lesson”
Writers: Tom Taylor, Jay Kristoff, C.S. Pacat
Artists: Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Iñaki Miranda
Color Artist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Review By Steve J. Ray
The Nightwing 2022 Annual is, to my mind, one of the finest standalone issues of the year. Not only does it perfectly bookend issues #78-#98 it delivers heart, soul, thrills, terror, and action in equal measure. The three tales in this comic are terrific in terms of writing, art, and sheer brilliance of collaborative storytelling.
Over the last few years, I’ve frequently called Tom Taylor a wonderful writer. I now think, after reading “The Moment That Shaped Him”, that I was wrong. He’s not just wonderful, he’s a genius. For the last 20 months, we’ve all been asking ourselves, “Who the heck is Heartless?” Tom already told us, on the very first page of his very first issue. If that’s not genius storytelling, then I don’t know what is.
What just seemed like a lovely character moment from Nightwing #78 has actually added to Heartless’ origin tale – which is magnificent and terrifying – in a way that has impressed me greatly. We met this guy almost two years ago, and both Dick and Babs encountered him as teenagers! Tying the villain’s origin to Dick Grayson’s and having his life closely parallel Batman and Nightwing’s? That’s the icing on the cake.
Bravo, Mr. Taylor! Nice job.
Jay Kristoff is a writer that I, and many reviewers both here and over on our sister site, Fantastic Universes, have been a fan of for a long time. His novels are terrific and, if “Night Out” is anything to go by, I want to read more comics written by him too. If you ever wanted to know what Haley “Bitewing” Grayson dreams about, then this story is sure to delight you.
Once again, I fell in love with this adorable three-legged puppy from the moment I met her, so this story has made me smile and melted my heart. Kristoff also shows a clear understanding of the Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon relationship. Two stories in, and I’m a happy reader.
The art on both “The Moment That Shaped Him”, and “Night Out” was by penciler, Eduardo Pansica, and inker Julio Ferreira. For the last couple of years, I’ve been praising every single artist who’s worked on this series, and have to do the same again after reading this annual.
Pansica is one of those truly classic comic book artists; he has a flair and dynamism that fits Nightwing and his co-stars when it comes to action, but he’s also a terrific storyteller. The way he’s adapted the aforementioned scene from Nightwing #78 both honors Bruno Redondo’s version while making the re-telling in this issue totally Pansica’s own. That’s not an easy thing to do. Of course, he’s aided and abetted by a truly talented inker (and frequent collaborator), the brilliant Julio Ferreira. These guys rock.
“The Lesson” closes off the Nightwing 2022 Annual in style. I don’t believe I’ve read anything written by C.S. Pacat before, but now I really want to. This lady is a seriously talented writer who, once again, clearly knows and loves not just Dick Grayson, but Batman and Jon Kent too. This story brought a lump to my throat, a tear to my eye, and put a huge smile on my face. This tale delivers a perfect ending to a perfect comic.
Iñaki Miranda, however, is an artist I’m very familiar with and who I’m a massive fan of. I’ve been following his work for close to two decades, from his Judge Dredd debut for 2000AD (1993) right up to the present day. Once again, this is a talent who can draw just about anything, action, humor, drama, and character. His Batman, Nightwing, and Superman are absolutely perfect.
Any comics fan who wants a masterclass on how to use breadcrumbs from previous tales, and deliver a perfect done-in-one story should look no further than this wonderful annual. Three writers and two art teams have delivered three faultless examples of what makes Dick Grayson one of the finest heroes in all of fiction.
These talented creators love these characters and this shines through in every line of dialogue, pencil mark, brush-stroke, tone, hue, letter, and sound effect on every single page.
Huge thanks to Nightwing mainstays Adriano Lucas (another stellar flashback) and Wes Abbott for making this annual an essential part of this wonderful series, and not just a take-it-or-leave-it comic book. Everything about the Nightwing 2022 Annual is spot-on-perfect.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment