Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 3: False Starts

Published: January 5th, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson
Art by: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 290 Pages

Review:

This collection of Nightwing issues from Chuck Dixon’s legendary run started off with a bang, as it started with the Nightwing and Huntress miniseries that saw the two vigilante heroes work together on a more intimate level.

Additionally, this picks up the stories that have been stretching over Dixon’s entire run and it keeps the momentum going with gusto.

I liked the stuff that involved the Huntress, a lot. The miniseries was actually written by Devin Grayson but it ties directly to Dixon’s run and lines up with the solo Nightwing stories, here.

This also features appearances by Deathstroke and Lady Shiva and that section of this beefy collection was probably my favorite, overall, following the Huntress miniseries.

Additionally, we get more of Blockbuster, as his large arc continues on, seeing him as the kingpin of Blüdhaven.

This is my favorite volume, so far, in Dixon’s Nightwing era. It’s just a badass series with great art and it keeps things flowing in a great direction.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 2: Rough Justice

Published: June 16th, 2015
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Scott McDaniel

DC Comics, 292 Pages

Review:

This volume in Chuck Dixon’s lengthy Nightwing run kicks off right where the previous one left off and builds off of those stories.

We also get to see appearances from more well-known villains in this chapter but a lot of them are just glorified cameos. However, the stories involving Scarecrow and Man Bat were really damn enjoyable.

Beyond that, I like how this also features other villains that are developed more for Nightwing and the city he protects, Blüdhaven.

We get more of Blockbuster, who essentially serves as Blüdhaven’s Wilson Fisk-type crime lord. We also get more of female villain Lady Vic, as well as some others thrown into the mix.

I also didn’t mind the romantic subplot that Dixon developed for this story between Nightwing and his new building’s female superintendent. Add in his sometimes romantic partner Barbara Gordon and you don’t really know how things will play out.

Ultimately, this is a story about Nightwing breaking out on his own and trying to be his own version of a street level vigilante. This is the culmination of the lessons he’s learned from Batman and it shows how he’s applying all of that to making his own life in a different city that also deserves a hero.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 1: Blüdhaven

Published: December 9th, 2014
Written by: Dennis O’Neil, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel

DC Comics, 286 Pages

Review:

As big of a fan of Nightwing, as I am, I had never read his earliest solo comics. I wanted to right that injustice and I probably should’ve done it a long time ago, as the stories, here, are written by two greats: Dennis O’Neil and Chuck Dixon.

This collection of issues starts with the original Nightwing miniseries. In that story, we see our hero travel to a foreign land to topple a sadistic dictator that may have had a hand in his parents’ deaths. This story was damn good and I liked how gritty and hard it was. Dennis O’Neil kind of gave the series a similar tone to the ’90s Deathstroke comics, which I’m a huge fan of.

Beyond that, we get the first few story arcs in the regular Nightwing series. In this stretch of issues, we get the work of Chuck Dixon, who was coming off of writing some of the best Batman stories of the era. And with that, he knew a lot about the Dick Grayson character and Batman, which he utilized really well in establishing Nightwing’s motivations and while exploring his relationship with his mentor as well as Tim Drake, his mentor’s new sidekick a.k.a. the third Robin.

In the Dixon stories, we learn about Black Mask and Blockbuster’s criminal dealings in Nightwing’s new home, Blüdhaven. We also get a major fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster, which serves to really setup this series going forward.

This isn’t just a collection of solid stories, it also boasts some incredible art. This book looks very ’90s but it looks like the best of the ’90s and isn’t overloaded with over-the-top cheese like some of the comics from the first half of the decade.

This was just a hell of a fun and cool comic. It definitely has me hyped to read the volumes that follow.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing: The Target – One-Shot

Published: July 25th, 2001
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Scott McDaniel, Aaron Sowd, Dave Stewart

DC Comics, 48 Pages

Review:

I read this just after finishing another Nightwing one-shot by Chuck Dixon: Our Worlds at War.

This also came out just a few weeks after that other one yet it doesn’t seem tied to it at all but I guess I should read the collected editions and see how it all comes together.

Still, this was written by Chuck Dixon and it was a damn entertaining, self-contained story. Unlike Our Worlds at War, I didn’t feel like I was missing a big chunk of the story.

In this, Dick Grayson is a cop when he’s not Nightwing. He gets framed for a murder caused by the police brutality he tried to stop. The dirty cops frame him but obviously they don’t know he’s Nightwing and pretty damn resourceful. Grayson takes on a new superhero personality: The Target.

As The Target, Grayson investigates his own case in an effort to clear his name and to bring the hammer of justice down on the murderous, dirty cops.

This also features a cameo by Batman but it is a Nightwing story and Dick Grayson takes it upon himself to set the record straight and to get justice for the victims.

In the end, I enjoyed this a lot and I thought The Target persona was really cool. But I also feel like this could have been stretched out over a longer story arc. It’s short and sweet but I felt like more could’ve been explored and it might have been cool to see Dick as The Target for much longer.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Chuck Dixon era Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing: Our Worlds at War – One-Shot

Published: July 11th, 2001
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Rick Leonardi, John Lowe, Noelle Giddings, Jae Lee (cover)

DC Comics, 36 Pages

Review:

While this was released as a one-shot comic book, it is tied-in to a larger story arc. Therefore, working as its own story, it kind of falls flat, as I wasn’t privy to the details and didn’t have the context to fit this into.

It’s pretty enjoyable though for those who like the relationship between Nightwing and Oracle. They’ve been my favorite semi-romantic pairing in comics since it was first teased and they’ve always had good chemistry when written well. Thankfully, this benefits from having Chuck Dixon as the writer, as he really gets both characters and their bond.

And ultimately, this story is carried by that bond.

Other than that, this sees our heroes traveling backwards through time in an effort to arrive at a place where the story’s unseen villain can’t touch them and thus, alter their present and future.

This is pretty short but we do get to see several different scenarios of the heroes coming into a new time and having to immediately deal with the threats waiting for them. In the end, they have to find a way to outwit the villain who is orchestrating these traps.

I wasn’t aware that this was tied to a larger plot and it probably would’ve read better had I known that beforehand and actually read the whole arc. However, there is still enough to sink your teeth into and it just further solidifies why these two characters are two of the most beloved in DC Comics lore.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Chuck Dixon era Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Ravage – Kill All Men!!, Issue #1

Published: 2019
Written by: Chuck Dixon, Benjamin L. Henderson, Mike Baron
Art by: Jimbo Salgado, Bryan Arfel Magnaye, Eric Weathers

Cautionary Comics, 36 Pages

Review:

Ravage – Kill All Men!! is one of the first comic book projects that I backed on Indiegogo, a few years ago. I was excited to get my hands on it, as I’m a fan of Chuck Dixon and Mike Baron’s work and because the art looked great from the sample pages I saw.

Unfortunately, there were problems with the physical copies I ordered and after a lot of back and forth with the publisher and emails about the book being on its way to me, I never actually got it. I did get a refund and a digital copy but I really wanted to own the physical copy and never got one in my hands.

I downloaded the digital file and had it on my computer for awhile before reading this. I realized that I hadn’t reviewed it, so I decided to give it a re-read to freshen my memory and give it a proper critique.

Overall, this was fun and Dixon’s writing reminded me of his G.I. Joe work, as he conveyed great camaraderie between the two main characters and also gave us a tale of high adventure in a beautiful and exotic setting. Plus, his ability to write action has always been top notch and this just has a good flow and a good balance between developing the characters and setting up the story.

This really is just a single issue, though, so it ends very abruptly without any real conclusion. I’m not sure how many issues this was going to stretch over but based off of everything at Cautionary Comics kind of falling apart, as several others didn’t get their comic as well, I’m not even sure if this is going to continue on or if this is it for the story.

If more came out, I wouldn’t back them based off of my experience with this campaign. While I did get a refund, I didn’t back it to keep my money; I backed it to support the campaign, the comic, the creators and this new company, who looked to be putting out some cool stuff.

I’d like to be able to finish the story and review it as a total body of work but the future of Ravage doesn’t look good. If I did get a future release, at this point, I’d rather just get the whole story in a larger trade paperback.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other adventure comics that emphasize sex appeal like Jungle Comics.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – GØD-K1NG

Published: December, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Aaron Alfeche, Charlie Snogans, Renzo Rodriguez, Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 96 Pages

Review:

I gotta say, color me impressed over the fact that the wait for this book was minuscule compared to the wait for the first one. But first campaigns are learning experiences and Ya Boi Zack really refined how he does things.

But I’ve also got to say that this book was an improvement over the first one, which goes to show that Meyer listened to the criticism of his readers and used that as fuel to get better instead of having a public meltdown on Twitter like many comic book pros.

While I liked Jon Malin’s art in the first Jawbreakers, I like Aaron Alfeche’s more in this volume. He really captures these characters well and going forward, I hope that he is the regular Jawbreakers artist.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed the overall plot of this more than the first one, though, but it was still good, intense and it showed that these characters live in a universe where the dangers are real and actions come with real consequences. But I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read this yet.

Honestly, I think I like both stories about the same. The only real difference is that this one flows better, has better transitions from panel to panel and it just felt like it had more energy.

This trade paperback actually features four stories with the GØD-K1NG story taking up at least half of the book. After it, there are two extra Jawbreakers related stories and then a sneak preview of a project that Chuck Dixon is working on.

Overall, this was an improvement over the first book and I feel like the creative team that was assembled for this round were firing on all cylinders. Everything seemed to click well and this one made me excited for its eventual followup.

Side note: the bonus story with the art by Charlie Snogans looks dynamite. I love that guy’s art and I hope to see more from him in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls, as well as Iron Sights.

Comic Review: Transformers: Infestation 2

Published: February, 2012
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Guido Guidi
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 57 Pages

Review:

IDW’s Infestation crossovers have been a mixed bag. Mostly, they are just okay but I do like the Infestation 2 event more than the first one. The first dealt with zombies while the second is more creative and cool in that it deals with Lovecraftian horrors.

I had higher hopes for this one than the others I’ve read, as it is written by Chuck Dixon, a guy who wrote some of my favorite BatmanG.I. Joe and Punisher stories over the years.

So out of the ones I’ve read thus far, I liked this the best.

Dixon did a pretty good job of merging the Transformers and Lovecraftian worlds together. I wasn’t sure if it would work out, as the previous Transformers Infestation story didn’t connect for me. But Dixon’s writing served the story well and the art by Guido Guidi really brought it all together stylisitically and tonally.

My only issue with it was that two issues isn’t enough real estate to truly explore this idea. Not a lot happens and this is all sort of over pretty abruptly. That’s not Dixon’s fault and he penned a solid tale within the constraints he had to do so.

Ultimately, this was a satisfactory installment of the Infestation stories.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other releases in IDW’s multi-franchise Infestation and Infestation 2 crossovers.

Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Killer Croc

Published: June 28th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 291 Pages

Review:

Killer Croc is a Batman villain that I have dug since I first read a story with him in it in the late ’80s. I’m glad that he has had staying power and is now pretty close to being an B+ level villain in the Batman and larger DC mythos.

This collection, like the other Batman Arkham villain compilations features a dozen or so stories focused on this specific character, all from different eras with a slew of different writers and artists.

But in the case of this book, that kind of hurts the overall compilation.

Now most of the writing is good with stories by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, Gerry Conway, Tim Seeley and others. It’s the big style variance in art that damages the overall presentation.

The problem is that most of the stories featured here are from the ’90s. At the time, DC Comics had a lot of artists that experimented with a lot of different art styles. Most of the stuff here looks like ’90s indie stuff that is trying way too hard to be edgy and extreme. A lot of it comes off like massive eye sores and the strong contrast in style from chapter to chapter is kind of jarring. But this is a compilation and these things happen when you’re wedging a dozen or so stories into the same book.

However, this collection also brings to light one of my biggest gripes about the Killer Croc character and that’s that everyone draws him differently. Sometimes he’s just a jacked dude with scaly skin and other times he’s the size of the Hulk with an actual crocodile looking head, snout and all. I’ve never been a fan of his inconsistent look and some of these artists go too wild with it.

Being mostly a product of the ’90s we also get some over the top violence in one story in particular, which sees Killer Croc literally chomp a woman in half. While that stuff doesn’t bother me, it seemed out of place in the book and just reminded me of a time when DC Comics seemed like they were trying too hard to fit within what they thought were the times.

I did enjoy this collection, despite my gripes about it. They could only work with what they had in their library but I can’t believe that some of these are considered the best Killer Croc tales. Maybe someone needs to step up and do the character some justice, treat him with care and give us something with more meat.

I also found it odd that none of his Suicide Squad stuff was here, as some of those stories really build up the character in interesting ways.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.

Comic Review: Doom: The Emperor Returns

Published: 2001-2002
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Leonardo Manco

Marvel Comics, 67 Pages

Review:

I dug the hell out of this miniseries when I read it over a dozen years ago. Because of that, I wanted to revisit it.

I typically love Chuck Dixon’s writing and as interesting as this story is, the greatness of Dixon is eclipsed here by the stupendous art of Leonardo Manco.

This book looks absolutely dynamite! While I might not be huge on Manco’s design for Doom’s mask in this story, everything else looks great. I especially liked the look of Doctor Octopus and the evil Celestial character.

Now the story is a bit batshit. It’s shows Doom rise to power on a planet of his own design. Even though he achieves control over his domain, as he’s always wanted, he does grow somewhat bored with his position. He feels empty and incomplete. It sort of harkens back to the David Michelinie Emperor Doom storyline from 1987.

While all this is going on, Franklin Richards is a part of the story and things seem strange. By the end, Doom’s empire crumbles but he is also brought back into the real realm. It’s kind of complicated to explain but I don’t want to ruin the story for those interested in checking it out.

Chuck Dixon crafted a well thought out and interesting tale that peeled back some layers on the Doom character and his motivations while staying true to the great stories before this.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Doom by the same creative team, as well as the Emperor Doom graphic novel.