Nightwing #82 brings in the origin of Melinda Zucco, courtesy of writer Tom Taylor. Bruno Redondo pencils this issue, this time with assists from Rick Leonardi and Neil Edwards. Redondo also provides inks with Andy Lanning and Scott Hanna. Adriano Lucas continues as the colorist, with Wes Abbott as the letterer. The team expands to give readers a captivating flashback sequence as the lost sister of Dick Grayson opens new wounds.
When we left off the last issue, Nightwing was captured by Zucco. Melinda surprised him again by revealing she is his sibling. The banter this time around is definitely not as fun and games as before, as this piece of information obviously startles the hero. Melinda also had unmasked Dick, giving the new mayor/villain of Bludhaven considerable leverage over her heroic brother. So we begin with Zucco-3, Nightwing-0. But she wants Dick to understand where she came from, and so gets him to dress down and…meet her mother.
Yes, this issue starts with the villain convincing our hero to change out of costume and have a talk with a parent. Melinda’s mom details to Dick how she was a slave to mobster Tony Zucco. She escaped to the circus, met John Grayson (but before he and Dick’s mother became an item), and describes their brief interlude. She became pregnant, and due to circumstances, John never knew. It’s an easy story to explain yet drops a lot of layers into Nightwing lore. For one, it exemplifies the horrific role of Tony Zucco in his life. It adds a wrinkle to his parent’s past, thankfully without tarnishing John by making him appear promiscuous and showcases the Graysons. You get a feel this issue for exactly where Dick got his sense of humor and morals.
For a moment, I worried the flashback would cast a bad light on the Flying Graysons, as such things tend to happen. A character who was once spotless is shown to have dirt under their nails. But not so here. Taylor yet again rides a smooth wave of words and storytelling in which characters are deepened and humanized rather than darkened. This issue serves fans as an addition to the lore rather than subtraction, and the complexity of the Dick/Melinda relationship is certain to ignite many issues to come.
As for the art, we are treated to two distinct forms this time around. Redondo, Lucas, and Abbott keep up their collective artistic prowess. Nightwing #82 shines in kaleidoscopic noir with curvaceous, easy lines that hearken back just a touch to Art Nouveau within a modern framework. But then, the flashback by Redondo, Leonardi, Hanna, and Lanning not only takes fans back to the pre-New 52 Nightwing art but comes surrounded by a bold black border that lets already resplendent art pop to the eyes while appearing as if it came from an older issue. Kudos to the entire team for making both art forms stand out and bring the story to an exceptional life. And Abbott keeps the nostalgia going with the older orange-tinted narrator squares and SFX for that 90s crunch.
There’s a lot to unpack this issue. Enjoy the show and take in what Nightwing #82 has to offer. Since issue 78, this feels more like this is his show and not a Bat book, and may DC keep allowing it to stand all on its own. If you haven’t done so already, put this in your comic book rotation!
Nightwing #82 is available now wherever comics are sold.
William J. Jackson is a small town laddie who self publishes books of punk genres, Victorian Age superheroes, rocket ships and human turmoil. He loves him some comic books, Nature, Star Trek and the fine art of the introvert.