NIGHTWING # 82 and a glimpse into the Flying Graysons past
DC Comics’ Night Wing # 82 is a relatively simple question. It takes the turn of the final of Night Wing # 81 and explains how this might be possible. Yet in just one issue, writer Tom Taylor, pencil sketchers Bruno Redondo, Rick Leonardi and Neil Edwards, inker Bruno Redondo, Andy Lanning and Scott Hanna, colorist Adriano Lucas and letterer Wes Abbott, (what a huge creative team for this issue!) show us that we can be wrong about the characters who initially seemed to be “the bad guys”. Spoilers ahead for the previous issue, Night Wing # 81.
Taylor is having a lot of fun in this issue. It’s both a candid look at the lives of Nightwing’s parents, the Flying Graysons, and a thriller-style story by Tony Zucco. With this issue, Taylor shows us how Nightwing and Melinda Zucco could be linked. In short, Taylor confuses things a bit. Melinda tells Nightwing that her father didn’t have another child, but then we hear a story that contradicts that. And later, when John Grayson talks to Tony Zucco, it feels like John Grayson and Taylor are overplaying their hand a bit. “Please accept that oversized fluffy bear and all the condescension that goes with it,” says John Grayson. It appears that Grayson’s talent for taunting was honed in a later generation. But overall, this issue is about the beautiful legacy the Graysons have created. It’s about how their lives touched more people than we realize. And Taylor shows us where Dick’s motivation and desire to do the right thing comes from.
It’s no surprise that this number has a huge artistic team. It’s because Night Wing # 82 change artistic styles to tell his story. When Meili Lin, Melinda’s mother, begins her story, the problem shifts to an older style than we’re used to. It’s a fantastic way to take us back to another era. The most notable change is the use of Ben-Day points. Redondo often uses Ben-Day points in their art. They are often used as accents. In this issue, in modern scenes, they are more visible on Melinda’s shirt. But the Flying Graysons scenes are supplemented with Ben-Day points. It makes the whole section feel like it’s straight out of the 1940s.
Of course, using Ben-Day points is also part of the job of the coloring department. But Lucas goes above and beyond. It almost seems that the scenes showing the Flying Graysons were portrayed using the four-color staining method. Even colors that are not cyan, magenta, yellow, or key (black), appear to be a muddy combination of those colors. Again, this is a fantastic way to step back in time. Lucas is also keen to put these scenes in juxtaposition with modern scenes. Scenes of Nightwing, Melinda and Meili talking are shown in deep reds and light blues. The evolutions of coloring in the comic book industry are fully exposed in this issue.
Abbott’s lettering is always a joy to see. Its sound effects are simple but effective. With each new issue, the freshness of its sound effects is more and more impressive. No shot feels quite the same, and Abbott always uses new fonts for new situations. But one of the best parts of Abbott’s lettering in Night Wing # 82, is in a scene of the Flying Graysons doing tricks in the circus. The word balloons stretches high, then plunges low, before rising again. Our eyes, scanning the page, mimic the movement of the Flying Graysons on the trapeze. It’s a simple trick that works wonderfully.
DC Comics’ Night Wing # 82 is surprisingly fun for a problem that deals with a nasty story. It’s because this creative team always finds beauty in the little moments. We come out of this issue, more in love than ever with the Graysons, and we wonder what this team’s sequel is for Nightwing! To pick up Night Wing # 82, DC Comics release on July 20, at a comic book store near you!