Nightwing No. 56 review: It’s Scarecrow vs. the Nightwings


Scarecrow has amassed an army with his toxins to battle the team of Nightwing superheroes. But are they equipped to battle a real supervillain in Nightwing No. 56?

Nightwing No. 56

Writer: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza

Artist: Davide Gianfelice

Nightwing No. 56 cover (Credit: DC Comics)

Alphonse Sapienza and his team of Nightwings have chosen to protect their city from everyday villains and thugs-little did they know that they would be facing off against a notorious Gotham supervillain so soon after donning their superhero mantles. The Scarecrow has finally played his hand and the opening scene of Nightwing No. 56 sees him face off against the hapless team of Nightwing heroes, with an army of toxin-affected citizens behind him.

The Nightwings are ill-prepared for this battle and their inexperience shows almost instantly. Luckily for them, there’s a fool-hardy Ric Grayson around the corner unable to turn a blind eye to the chaos overcoming his city. Ric may not be Nightwing any more, but can he help out Blüdhaven’s new heroes and finally rid the city of the scourge of Scarecrow?

Ric Grayson, Superhero?

The subtitle for Nightwing No. 56 is confusingly ‘… The Return of Ric Grayson’. One can’t be blamed for wondering what the creators mean by this statement. In fact, if you are anything like me, you were probably wondering if it was a typo which was supposed to read ‘…The Return of Dick Grayson’. Ric hasn’t gone anywhere despite most readers wishing he would disappear so that the real Dick Grayson can ‘please stand up’.

However, the point of this issue is Ric returning to being a hero – or at least taking his first steps towards becoming one. Ric has pointedly veered away from his history as Robin and Nightwing in this story arc, but his bravery has never been far away. In a city like Blüdhaven, courage is required to keep oneself safe, but to save others requires actual heroism, something that Ric has in spades in Nightwing No. 56. His latent skills as a superhero kick in so he can step up to assist the Nightwings, assistance they desperately need in their fight against Scarecrow. Does this mean Ric is ready to finally embrace his past, at least the part where he was a hero? This could very well begin his journey towards healing and recovering his lost identity.

Being a Superhero is Harder Than it Looks, Sap

Sap vs. Scarecrow in Nightwing No. 56 (Credit: DC Comics)

The best thing about Detective ‘Sap’ Sapienza taking over the Nightwing mantle has been seeing a character grow into his superhero persona rather than owning it from the get-go. If anything, the series creators could have placed more emphasis on the development of Sap and the Nightwings (sounds like a pop band!). Some of Sap’s trepidation about facing off against villains comes through in Nightwing No. 56, though a lot of it is buried under expositional narrative.

Sap could easily have been written as a super-macho superhero, where everything he touched turned to gold; instead he struggles as a hero and as a leader. His team is professional and friends, but that doesn’t make them a cohesive group that works well together. Not yet, anyway.

While the Nightwing series has been concentrating on Sap, the rest of the Nightwings, Hutch, Zak and Colleen are equally as interesting and deserve their own character arcs and development. But readers will have to wait and see if these three are given their due in the upcoming installments.

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A new villain debuts their acts of terror in Blüdhaven in the next issue of Nightwing, but will they grab readers’ attention? After the events of Nightwing No. 56, one can’t help but wonder how the new dynamic between Ric and the Nightwings will impact the series. This could propel Ric into a whole new way of life, one that will draw him closer to his past and preferably end this arc for good.