Nightwing Issue 82 Review: “The Mystery of Melinda Zucco”

Nightwing Issue 82

Nightwing issue 82 begins where the huge cliffhanger from issue 81 left off. Melinda Zucco claimed that she is Dick Grayson’s sister which came as quite the surprise to him. It literally leaves him speechless. Now Nightwing faces the mystery of just who Melinda Zucco is. Is she truly his sister?

Please note that there will be some spoilers below.

Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing series is quickly shaping up to be not only my favorite run of Nightwing, but probably one of my favorite comic series ever. I don’t say that lightly as I have been reading comics and specifically Nightwing for well over a decade. Taylor and Redondo make Nightwing a joy to read. It’s a comic I get excited about every month, which isn’t the norm for me either.

Nightwing issue 82 starts out with Dick confronting Melinda about the huge bomb she had just dropped. Dick is familiar with his family’s history and would know if his father had had another child. Melinda challenges him on it though claiming that John Grayson didn’t know about her either. Dick halts the conversation to ask Barbara to call off whatever rescue was about to take place. Good thing too, or the Titans, Donna Troy, and Batman would have all arrived at Melinda’s doorstep!

After the “Big Bird Extraction Protocol” was cancelled, Dick told Melinda that they needed to talk. She suggested that the story would be better coming from someone else: her mother. Melinda’s mother, Meili Lin is definitely familiar with John and Mary Grayson and speaks about them fondly to Dick while saying how much he looks like them. Meili knew Dick’s parents when they were just partners in a circus act and not yet romantically involved.

Meili told Dick about how Tony Zucco saw her as a possession, but she had no interest in being possessed. Zucco took her to Haly’s Circus one night and she used it as an opportunity to run away from him. John Grayson saw her running and offered her refuge in his trailer. John and Mary distracted Zucco, told him they didn’t see her, and eventually got him to leave, but not without a fight. No surprise, but Dick takes after his parents as far as fighting to protect people.

Nightwing issue 82 really does an excellent job of adding to a familiar origin story (the Flying Graysons being killed) and expanding on it in such a way that doesn’t take away from the original story. The story of Tony Zucco killing Dick’s parents is only more sinister now that we know he had a grudge against them. Their deaths weren’t random. Their murder was intentional.

Writer Tom Taylor is excellent at taking ideas that maybe shouldn’t work and making them work. A previously unknown sister out of nowhere? That’s something that can quickly become cheesy and very soap opera-ish. Instead, Taylor weaves a story where not only could it be plausible, but it does not come off as outlandish either. Dick Grayson was young when his parents were killed. Meili and Melinda did not get the chance to connect with the Graysons before John and Mary died. So, it’s very possible there are things Dick would not know about.

Artist Bruno Redondo is joined by Neil Edwards and previous Nightwing artist Rick Leonardi who worked on the original Nightwing comic run with Chuck Dixon. Leonardi lends his pencil work to the flashback section of the comic focusing on the Flying Graysons which couldn’t be more perfect. As someone who has read Nightwing from the beginning, it just makes sense to have an artist who worked on Nightwing in the past to show events that happened in the past. It’s creative and fun. All of the art in this issue is gorgeous especially with Adriano Lucas’ colors and fits the story so well. Bruno Redondo never fails to make anything other than a visually stunning comic.

While there is not a lot of action in Nightwing issue 82, it does not feel boring or come off as lacking in any way. The history shared within paint John and Mary as even more awesome people, providing help for someone who desperately needed it. And Dick has a chance to learn some things about his parents from someone who knew them even before he did.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nightwing issue 82. The scene at the beginning where everyone showed up to rescue Nightwing, especially with Batman looking particularly worried was heartwarming. I loved learning more about Dick’s parents and I am intrigued by what it will mean for Dick to be related to a child of the man who killed his parents, especially since she also seems to be a criminal. What will this mean for Dick going forward? What will he do with this knowledge? And what will Melinda do with the knowledge of Dick being Nightwing? All I know is that I can’t wait to find out!

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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