Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 7: Shrike

Published: February 20th, 2018
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Rick Leonardi, Mike Lilly, Trevor McCarthy

DC Comics, 254 Pages

Review:

With this seventh volume in Chuck Dixon’s solid Nightwing run, we’re introduced to one of Dick Grayson’s most deadly enemies, Shrike.

The assassin is brought in by Nightwing’s biggest enemy, Blockbuster, after roughly a dozen other gimmicky assassins have failed at taking the street level hero down.

This was one of the more enjoyable volumes, as it just got back to basics and saw Nightwing have to tangle up with an evenly matched, badass baddie, in the alleys and on the roofs of Blüdhaven.

This also features some one-shots from the era collected into this volume. They’re actually one-shots I’ve already read and reviewed but it was cool seeing how they lineup in the overall Chuck Dixon Nightwing timeline.

The art is also really good in this, especially the work of Greg Land, who this deep into the series, has probably cemented himself as my favorite Nightwing artist of the Dixon run.

All in all, this is just straightforward street hero action with some solid storytelling, really good art and ’90s attitude.

Rating: 7.25/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 6: To Serve and Protect

Published: July 18th, 2017
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Kieron Dwyer, Patch Zircher

DC Comics, 256 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the long Chuck Dixon run on Nightwing was a bit laid back compared to the previous installment but that one swung for the fences and after its ending, you kind of needed a bit of a breather.

Like the other volumes, this includes multiple story arcs while still progressing the larger arc of the series forward.

The highlight of this stretch of issues, at least for me, is that we get to see Dick Grayson go into the field as a beat cop for the first time. Seeing him have to balance that life and its responsibilities while also being Nightwing was really interesting.

I actually kind of wish they kept him as a cop. Although, I won’t go to deeply into where the Nightwing comics went in the last year or two but it did completely wreck the series and had me remove it from my pull list after being on there for nearly fifteen years.

Anyway, this also features some stories with some really cool new villains. It also features a good story with Catwoman.

The artists do change a few times over this stretch but like the last volume, I think I most enjoyed the issues that were done by Greg Land, which was a real step up from the art of the series before he got the gig.

The other artists are also pretty good in this and overall, it’s a better looking comic series than it was over its first four volumes.

Ultimately, this is still leading towards an eventual showdown between Nightwing and Blockbuster. I’d have to assume it’s coming soon, as they’ve been planting the seeds since way back in volume one.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle

Published: November 1st, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 331 Pages

Review:

I took a bit of a break, as I had reached the middle of the collected editions of Chuck Dixon’s classic Nightwing run. But now I’m ready to jump back in with this installment, which I thought was pretty good and full of action and multiple story arcs, which were mostly entertaining.

The two best stories are the ones that are essentially the bookends of this volume.

The first is about Nightwing breaking into prison to take down the supervillains that have taken it over. It features a lot of villains and some of them actually help Nightwing, as they’re not happy with the conditions they’ve been provided with under the new tyrannical rule of Lockup and his right hand, KGBeast.

The last story is about Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle and the former Batgirl, being abducted with Nightwing and his allies trying desperately to find her. I don’t want to spoil what happens, as there is a cliffhanger that sets up the next volume.

As for the art, the earlier issues here continued to have a very ’90s style, which hasn’t aged all that well, even though I liked it at the time. After the first third or so of this volume, Greg Land took over and the book looked more refined and polished.

Overall, this is a good chapter in the larger Dixon run. It also progressed the stories of Blockbuster and Nite-Wing, the ripoff wannabe sidekick, in ways that kept their stories interesting.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong

Published: December 14th, 2005
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Greg Land

Marvel Comics, 123 Pages

Review:

After reading the Grant Morrison Dark Phoenix story, I didn’t have much hope for this one, which follows it pretty closely. However, this was a big step up and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Phoenix Force comes back to Earth in an effort to rejoin Jean Grey but it discovers that Jean is dead. So it reanimates her corpse and poses as her, making for some painful moments with Wolverine and Cyclops. But this is also where Emma Frost has to step up and become a real leader on the X-Men team, after she had spent years as one of their greatest villains.

The thing that I loved most about this is that the stakes were real and you got a sense of the immensity of the terrible situation the heroes were in. However, the story stayed fairly small and close knit to a small group of X-Men members, as opposed to trying to make this a mega event that pulled in every character from the Marvel universe.

Greg Pak did a superb job in writing this and I’d say it’s my favorite story of his that I’ve read after the masterpiece that was Planet Hulk.

While Greg Land is a somewhat controversial artist that’s been accused of tracing photos, which there is actually a lot of evidence to back that up, I still really liked his art here and it felt top notch. I’m not as “offended” as some within the comic industry and its fans have been about the possibility of the man not being a “legit” artist. That’s because the finished product is still spectacular and he truly understands how to stage and set a scene, whether it’s slice of life moments or action. For more on Land, Comic Tropes did a good video on the guy here.

Overall, this was a really good, refreshing read that took the messy Phoenix story that preceded it and sort of fixed it. This was a satisfying conclusion to the string of Phoenix sagas that led up to this. Granted, it wasn’t the last Phoenix tale but this still brought things to a gratifying close for a short time, anyway.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other story arcs about Jean Grey as Phoenix.

Comic Review: Symbiote Spider-Man

Published: April 10th, 2019 – August 14th, 2019
Written by: Peter David
Art by: Greg Land

Marvel Comics, 131 Pages

Review:

Man, this was a really refreshing miniseries. And at the end, it promised that there would be more to come with this symbiote era version of Spider-Man.

Granted, I don’t know exactly where this fits within the established canon or if it is just an alternate Earth but for a self-contained story, Peter David brought his A game and it really made me want to go back and read some of his classic Hulk stories.

I also enjoyed Greg Land’s art and I thought from a stylistic standpoint, the combining of Land and David created a really late ’80s to early ’90s feel for this book. While that can be good or bad, it worked well and just made this a really entertaining and exciting comic.

The story takes place in that small window of time where Spider-Man and Black Cat were a couple. It was a rocky relationship that had a lot of baggage but this story really captures the feeling of it from the days when I was just discovering Spider-Man comics.

The plot focuses on Mysterio and his attempt at trying to get a piece of Spider-Man’s symbiote suit. With the help of Black Cat, who is blackmailed, he succeeds and this leads to Mysterio becoming a host for a piece of the symbiote suit. In essence, we get a mash up of Mysterio and Venom and while that may sound cheap and gimmicky, it works out really well and man, he’s just cool as hell.

I sincerely dug this comic and honestly, I hope that Peter David gets to continue to work on this version of the Spider-Man character. Also, I’d love to see him get to tackle more stuff in modern times, as most of the writing in 2019 is nowhere near Peter David on an off day.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the Spider-Man: Life Story miniseries, as well as symbiote era Spider-Man comics.