Does a look at a book that came out a fortnight ago count as a Retro Review? I only got around to reading this issue last night, and simply have to pour on the praise. It's a one-off team-up between Titans buddies Dick Grayson and Wally West, just catching up as they enjoy the Blüdhaven nightlife. And it's a delight.
We begin with an on-patrol Nightwing surprised by the reaction of his victim after her rescue from a mugger.
Could there be a better time for the Fastest Man Alive - or at least, one of 'em - to show up? Wally explains why he's turned up unannounced.
Later, they have a shared experience with other revellers - but not a good one.
And soon, they meet a new supervillain.
This cocky sod goes by the name Timebomb, and if you want to know his deal, buy this issue. It's a pacy, action-packed character study of two guys who have one of the longest relationships in the DC Universe. Their friendship has been interrupted by the reality-bending shenanigans of Dr Manhattan but it seems that the more time they spend together, the more the old connections kick in.
Writer Michael McMillian - part of DC's New Talent programme - shows he's ready for his close-up; his sense of story is good, as is his dialogue and he has a feel for DC's historical and emotional landscape. He's the first writer I've seen tackle the 'your name is Dick? >snicker<' bit without getting all schoolboy about it, and in Timebomb he's come up with a new villain with potential. Plus, he addresses the Babs Thing with intelligence. Based on this, and his Superman short in last December's New Talent Showcase, I'd like to see him have a crack at his own series... Legion of Super-Heroes, maybe?
Artist Christian Duce pops up occasionally at DC, usually on the Bat-books, always producing gorgeous, dynamic work, and he does so again here. Dick and Wally are strong, handsome, classically heroic, and they move superbly on the page, the speedster and the acrobat. This is the best Wally's new costume has ever looked. I particularly enjoyed the visit to the hipster hang-out, all waxed taches and bowler hats. With attractive night-time colours from Chris Sotomayor and sharp letters from Carlos M Mangual, this is a seriously good-looking comic.
That extends to the covers, both the regular by penciller Brad Walker, inker Drew Hennessy and Sotomayor, which dramatises a moment in the tale, and the more iconic variant by Casey Jones and Hi-Fi's house of colour.
If DC still produced Year's Best Comic Stories digests, Nightwing #21 would be a no-brainer. Don't miss it.