Nightwing Annual 2021 brings together brothers Dick Grayson and Jason Todd in a team-up to help clear Red Hood’s name. Featuring plenty of action, good natured teasing, some family history, and a better understanding between brothers, this is not a comic you’re going to want to miss!
There will be some brief spoilers below.
I was so excited when I heard about the Nightwing and Red Hood team-up. One of my favorite comic writers writing two of my favorite comic book characters? Sign me up! People who read my reviews and follow my Twitter account know that I am a huge Nightwing fan. Dick Grayson is my favorite comic book character, but what’s interesting is that my local comic book shop actually knows me as a Red Hood fan and will automatically pull any book with Red Hood in it for me. Needless to say, I’ll read nearly anything with Dick Grayson or Jason Todd in it. So, seeing them both work together and not begrudgingly was definitely a dream come true for me.
Nightwing Annual 2021 seems to take place somewhere in the present comic timeline. Dick Grayson is back in Blüdhaven and Jason Todd is sporting the new Red Hood costume that Bruce Wayne gave him in the Urban Legends comic. This is a Red Hood who has decided to give up his guns – for a crowbar – using a weapon that had been used to kill him when he was Robin. Is this healthy for Jason? Probably not, but neither is running around in a bat fursona, I’m sure!
The story begins with Dick, Barbara, and Dick’s dog Hailey watching a video that was sent to Barbara of Red Hood shooting an informant and a couple of FBI agents. Dick and Barbara do not want to believe that it is really Jason. After all, he’s come a long way from his more villainous/anti-hero days. When the video ends with Red Hood taking his mask off and revealing Jason’s face, Dick packs up and heads back to Gotham to ask Jason what happened.
When Dick tracks down Jason, he asks if Dick is going to take him in. Dick asks if he needs to, but Jason said he didn’t do it and Dick replies that he believes him. This is some amazing character growth for not only Jason, but Dick as well. Jason is not antagonistic toward Dick and Dick is quick to believe his brother. Often when Dick and Jason team up, it’s begrudgingly. They don’t tend to like working together. They’re not the closest of siblings and Jason has always been the black sheep and lone wolf of the family.
As the comic progresses, the story jumps back and forth between the present and the time Jason and Dick met and worked together for the first time as Nightwing and Robin. The flashbacks feature the ever-lovely Discowing costume and short-pants Robin, as it should. In the comics world where time works differently, Jason and Dick can still be in their twenties in the 2020’s and teenagers in the 1980’s.
Since the conclusion of Dark Knights Death Metal everything is canon, so this storyline assumes that Dick was fired from being Robin and Jason became Robin after stealing the wheels off of the Batmobile. Writer Tom Taylor does an excellent job of weaving their history while keeping in line with the Nightwing Year One storyline. Taylor implements his own elements and improves the bond between the brothers.
I loved seeing Dick and Jason learn how to be brothers around each other when they were younger and also continuing to develop their relationship in a more positive way in the present. Their willingness to work together and trust one another allows them to figure out who was trying to frame Jason while still having some fun banter along the way. Dick can’t resist teasing Jason about his choice of weapon, which Jason gets him back for when he sarcastically says, “And those sticks of yours are like being hit with fluffy pillows, are they?” The two can be pretty funny when you get them together. That extends to other comics as well, like the recent DC vs Vampires #2. I love to see it.
Tom Taylor really has an excellent understanding of who Dick and Jason are. He stays true to their current relationship while also bringing them closer with a better understanding of one another. I think ultimately that one of Taylor’s goals is to improve Dick’s relationships with all of his family – especially his brothers and father.
While I appreciate and prefer for Dick to have his own adventures in Blüdhaven, it’s often quite rewarding and fun to see his friends and family come to him for a change. Of course, this is an instance of Dick going back to Gotham again, but not for some huge event, so it works nicely. Plus, this story stands on its own and is resolved by the end, so you could read this comic without having read anything current for Nightwing or Red Hood.
The art by Cian Tormey and Daniel HDR fit the characters well. The facial expressions lend to showing you how each character feels and the action sequences are amazing. Other than seeing Dick in his Discowing costume again, I’d say one of my favorite parts of the art in this issue was seeing the Batmobile on fire. Definitely epic! How are Dick and Jason going to explain that one to Batman?!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nicola Scott’s amazing cover. Nightwing looks like he is having so much fun and Red Hood looks ready to take on anything!
The colors by Rain Beredo and John Kalisz also worked very well with the dreariness of Gotham, while the action scenes stood out with brighter colors. And Wes Abbott as always does an excellent job with the lettering. He’s probably one of the best in the business right now and what he does always flows so well.
Nightwing Annual 2021 was such a fun comic! It served to grow the relationship between Dick and his brother while also advancing Jason’s story as well. Both characters are going through transitions and learning who they want to be in their current situations. Not to mention this comic was just plain fun. I definitely hope to see Tom Taylor write more of these two in the future!
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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