COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Nightwing #44 The Bleeding Edge (Part Two)

Nightwing investigates a string of murders that at first seem disconnected but when signs start to point to the digital underworld, the mean streets of Bludhaven begin to transform.

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Writer: Ben Percy

Artist: Chris Mooneyham

Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey

Colorist: Nick Filardi

Publisher: DC Comics:

What you need to know: Nightwing is having trouble finding his murderer, as a sereis of events occurred in which a train exploded destroying a large portion of track, and a murder with an unknown witness. Dick Grayson contacted part time lover and ally Barbara Gordon with help on the technological side of things. In this investigation a robotic bug planted itself inside Nightwing, causing him to pass out.

What you’ll find out: The issue opens with a tired Dick waking up to a phone call from William Cloke, a handicapped client of his, regarding the workout session they had planned, but Dick turns around and notices Barbara sleeping next to him! Dick becomes confused by this turn of events, not remembering the night before. Barbara claims that they had both had an unreasonable amount to drink last night and says that she’ll see him later, leaving Dick to head out to his work. But as he leaves her voice turns techno and the panel blurs.

On his way to work Dick questions his reality, trying to figure out how he ha`d allowed Barbara to sleep with him. A panel shows up claiming a 5% neural download. Meanwhile in a Bludhaven neighbourhood, phantasm VR devices are being delivered for a citywide initiative set up by tech company Mirage. The man who delivered the phantasm is approached by the Russian Sisterhood who steals his van, but they get a message on their phones which swiftly explode, destroying both them and the van. Dick passes by the train line which exploded last issue which is being rebuilt and funded by Mirage, causing Dick to become suspicious and want to investigate as Nightwing.

Dick arrives at the docks where he begins his rigorous training session with William Cloke. Dick tasks Cloke to throw in a kettlebell and ‘save’ it before it reaches the bottom. Once throwing it in, Cloke and Dick dive down to get it but see something they weren’t expecting- a rotting corpse! Later, Detective Svoboda and the police force arrive at the scene, leaving Dick as both witness and detective. The dead man in the river was doxxed with all his private information leaked online. Dick becomes more worried and turns to Barbara for tech support while she fights a giant toad in Gotham. Barbara tells him that the mayor i holding a press conference regarding the emergence of Mirage in Bludhaven and Dick asks about the night before to which Barbara has no idea.

Dick returns to his apartment and finds Barbara waiting for him with sandwiches. Dick surmises that the phantasm is controlling him and he attacks Barbara forcing her to transform into a tech ghost called Wyrm. Dick attacks Wyrm but gets beat while the neural scan completes. This scan forces the bug that crawled inside him to come out with all the information about Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne.

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What Just Happened: The issue continues Lemires crusade against technology, but carries less of a ‘preaching’ attitude which was an issue in the last book. Lemire keeps the theme of the story without hurting it with his views and does so with decent effect. Lemire continues to advance Dicks friendship with Svoboda in minimal encounters but it has a big impact on the reader through their dialogue, which allows Dick to see the detective through the eyes of civilian rather than a vigilante.

On to the bigger parts of the story that is Dicks relationship with Barbara. Theirs has been confusing and muddled through the years, but they’ve recently managed to get it on track, but this issue ended up confusing both Nightwing and the reader. Dick had settled his mind on Barbara being a ‘close friend’ but the start of the story had Dick in confusion over his actual feelings. If they continue the story it could have a meaningful impact on the Bat-family, but after the conclusion of Barbara not actually being real, it could end up with no real conclusion to the story and it just being a means to stir drama.

My interest is growing in the story due to William Cloke. Dicks work life is possibly the most interesting part of these stories, building his character to a mentor position and showing that he can be as good if not better than Batman. Cloke is a mysterious character (his name is ‘Cloak’ after all) who i am excited to learn more about in the coming issues.

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The art of Mooneyham continues to flourish, bringing more life Lemires settings. His underwater art stands out in particular, and it seems to be better than the art of the recent Aquaman story. His take on new villain Wyrm is also enjoyable and terrifying.

Rating: 6.7/10

Final Thoughts: Lemire has created an intriguing and preachy story and is following through in a slow fashion. His issue is muddled to the point where I don’t know where any of the different stories connect with each other. However, Lemires dialogue continues to keep me entertained while Mooneyhams art impressed at every page.

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