With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?

Recently, DC Comics made a lot of changes, after the last time they made a lot of changes, and I thought I was kind done with them. But you know what? I find myself enjoying quite a few of their titles.

  • For example, I’m digging Swamp Thing, especially with that great Mike Perkins art . Who would have ever thought that a character with an impressive lineage of top artists (Wrightson, Yeates, Bissette, Paquette – the list goes on and on) could ever find another artist on that level? They did with Perkins. His work is top-notch.
  • Detective Comics -While the main Batman title has been become a little too creepy for me, I have been picking up the last few issues of ‘ It’s refreshing to see the trials and tribulations of a downsized Bruce Wayne.
  • Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert are killing it on Batman: The Detective. I believe that Andy Kubert’s art is better than ever. Every page is in the “astonishing” category.

Wing and a Prayer

The best kept little secret at DC might be the new Nightwing series. In fact, it might be the most enjoyable comic DC’s publishing right now.

I saw a social media post from one the world’s top comic shop retailers, Marc Hammond. He was extolling the virtues of this Nightwing series just as I was preparing this column.  He’s a guy who knows his comics and keeps up with everything in the industry.

“The creative team on Nightwing is absolutely knocking it out of the park,” said Marc Hammond, Co-Owner of Aw Yeah Comics.* “Every issue immediately jumps to the top of the stack. It has a classic Dick Grayson feel to it while definitely forging a new path, placing Nightwing prominently at the forefront of the DC pantheon.”

Be sure to stop by his Aw Yeah Comics Shop whenever you are just north of NYC or in Westchester County. (There are also two other locations – in Skokie, IL near Chicago and in Muncie, Indiana.)

There are a lot of reasons why folks like Marc are enthusiastic about Nightwing.

  • The covers, by Bruno Redondo pop off the shelves. Each one is creative, and many have a great sense of whimsy. His interior art showcases innovative layouts and solid figurework.
  • The logo is strong and identifiable, and the designers are having so much enjoyment with it that is evident for readers and fans.
  • The characters are likeable. As part of the new status quo in the Batman mythology, Dick Grayson inherited great wealth, via the recently deceased Alfred. As the eternal optimist, Dick trying to figure out what to do with his new fortune.
  • The supporting cast keeps it fresh and sparkling. There’s a tasty cocktail of characters every comic fan knows well (Babs Gordon, Tim Drake, Blockbuster)along with new characters – including villain Heartless and the new mayor of Bludhaven, Melinda Zucco). Tom Taylor’s dialog for these characters is fast-paced and witty.

But I can’t help but wonder if the real reason that Nightwing “jumps to the top of the stack”, as Marc said, is because so many fans are tired of a crabby Batman.  I grew up with the upstanding citizen-type Batman of the 1950s & 1960s. In the 70s, the character become sullen and more serious, but was still a reasonably well-rounded guy.  He’d share an occasional laugh with his non-superhero friends. But since the 80s, Batman’s become a driven, hyper-focused sourpuss for too many of his adventures.

Nightwing serves up Dick Grayson as a proxy Batman.  He’s very similar but very so very different. He’s upbeat, confident (rightly so) but friendly and likeable. And for a guy “who’s been everywhere and done it all”, that’s hard to pull off with any sincerity.

Last week’s comic news was filled with stories about Substack, and how creators, including the Batman scribe, are jumping on board and leaving conventional comics.  There are rumors of huge financial incentives too – more like start-up money than “publishing money” or “comics money”. So, who can blame them?

(Rob Salkowitz had a good analysis of the Substack news  here. And the PW More to Come team had a fascinating conversation on this week’s podcast.)

Everyone’s got bills to pay, but selfishly, I want to these creatives to stick around Nightwing for a long time.