After making Green Arrow one of the strongest titles of DC Rebirth, Benjamin Percy jumps to a different hunky urban crusader in May as the new writer on Nightwing, pitting Dick Grayson against a cyber threat that he can’t defeat with his fists. Percy does his best work when working with exceptional artists—his Green Arrow underwent a remarkable transformation when he gained collaborators with more ambitious points of view—and he has one hell of an art team for Nightwing with artist Chris Mooneyham and colorist Nick Filardi. Mooneyham hasn’t done much work on superheroes, but he’s developed a talent for exciting adventure stories on books like Five Ghosts and the current Planet Of The Apes: Ursus miniseries. His art gains new dimensions when paired with Filardi’s vibrant, textured coloring, and Filardi carefully maintains the intense contrast in Mooneyham’s inks.
Nightwing gives Mooneyham the opportunity to explore a contemporary city, something he hasn’t done often in his comics career, and this exclusive preview of this week’s Nightwing #44 begins by showing how Mooneyham and Filardi depict Bludhaven’s streets and underground landscape. It’s a grungy environment reminiscent of pre-Giuliani New York City, and even though the bright signs shine light on the sidewalk, it still feels like a city shrouded in darkness. The shadows begin to take over in the subway, but the dark is pierced by exploding smartphones, which are being triggered by a neon green skull that travels through electricity. The title page may hold a clue to the villain’s identity with graffiti that reads, “Chemo Lives,” referencing the neon-green radioactive heavy that destroyed Bludhaven in the past.
That title page reveals how Mooneyham draws Nightwing in action, and that main panel successfully conveys a sequence of events in a single image that includes a dramatically posed shot of the title hero. Mooneyham often draws his own sound effects to make them more integral to the visuals, and one of the best moments in this excerpt takes advantage of his lettering and graphic design skills when phones in a row are all triggered at once. This also gives Filardi the opportunity to influence the lettering, using neon green for the “zeep” and “kroom” sound effects to tie them directly to the villain and coloring the “tak” of Nightwing’s baton hits with the hero’s signature shade of blue. This is an outstanding creative team to lead Dick Grayson into the future, and hopefully the book’s new monthly schedule will keep this art team around for the long haul.