Nightwing #64 (February, 2002)
“On a Christmas Evening”
Writer – Chuck “Kringle” Dixon
Penciller – Trevor “Claus” McCarthy
Inker – Rob “The Red Nosed” Leigh
Colorist – Gregory “Silent Night” Wright
Separator – (Digital) “Holly Jolly” Chameleon
Letterer – Chris “O Little Town of” Eliopoulos
Editor – Michael “Bah Humbug” Wright
Cover Price: $2.25
We’re heading into the home stretch… welcome to the eleventh day of Christmas on Infinite Earths! Let’s hit Bludhaven and see how they do Christmas!
By the by, Happy Festivus!
It’s a night during the holiday season which may or may not be Christmas Eve… and Nightwing is hot on the trail of a really lame scammer dressed like Santa Claus, collecting donations for “orphans”. It doesn’t take much for Nightwing to snag him… he takes the crim’s “take” and tells him he will be donating it to the poor box at St. Sebastian’s. He then boots him out of town, and wishes him a Merry Christmas.
We move ahead to Dick Grayson arriving to work at the Bludhaven Police Department. Upon arrival, he is handed a stack of letters… he notes that they are not addressed to him, but to Santa Claus. The BPD has their own version of Superman’s Metropolis Mailbag, I guess… they try and answer some requests… but from all appearances, it’s more like they read the letters and cry because they can’t help everyone.
Dick starts reading through his stack, thinking it might be fun to go shopping for toys for a disadvantaged child… the letter he chooses to read, however, does not ask for anything material… this little girl only wants Santa to find a job for her father so he doesn’t have to do bad things anymore.
Dick’s partner, Amy lets him know that it’s time to go… and they hit their patrol… all the while, Dick is unable to shake what he’d just read. The letter was signed by a Sharra… and there was no return address… his only lead is a postmark from Bowerhaven, which is a pretty rotten part of Bludhaven.
And so after his shift ends, he dons his blue’nblacks and heads to Bowerhaven… a neighborhood where the kids are on the streets all day and all night. He happens upon one such bunch playing street hockey. They’re all kind of jerks… but do tell him that they’ve never heard of a Sharra in the neighborhood.
Dick heads home and decides to call… Tim Drake for assistance. At this time, he and Barbara were kind of on the outs. This is coming hot off the ending of Joker’s Last Laugh, which concluded with Nightwing actually killing the Joker! He was only dead a few panels, because Batman did some Bat-CPR to keep his worst villain… and killer of thousands alive. This is stuff that Dick is still trying to work through.
We shift scenes to a young girl carrying a doll. She overhears her father getting a “job” from one of the local “no goods”. They ask him to drop some “rock” in the Zee Moores, which is another really bad part of town. They tell him they’ll give him $5,000 for the drop… which tells ya, there be a whooole lotta “rock” in his duffel bag. The little girl is none too pleased that her daddy’s going to “go to work” tonight.
We rejoin Dick while he is on patrol. While Amy reads some goofball the riot act, he takes a call from Tim. Between the two they deduce that maybe “Sharra” is a fake name… or the name of an imaginary friend… cuz, ya know… Santa would know her real name, right? After the call, Dick and Amy head off to a toy store, because Amy’s daughter Emma really wants the new… Sharra Starlight doll for Christmas… hmmm…
Back in Bowerhaven, the young girl has taken it upon herself to dump the entire contents of daddy’s duffel bag down the turlet… uh oh…
At the toy store, Dick notices the price on the Sharra Starlight doll… definitely not something that a Bowerhaven resident would buy for their kid. He makes an offhand comment about how much less the doll might cost should someone be able to procure one “hot”.
And so, Nightwing hunts down a black-market Sharra Starlight salesman in Bowerhaven. He asks who might have bought it… and thankfully the goon is able to remember… because, ya know… ya don’t sell a whole lotta white dolls in this area. That’s a really good business model, right?
Back at the apartment, the folks of the flushed rock are looking to take their pound of flesh. Luckily, Nightwing is already there… and ready to crack skulls… and so, he does.
After kayoing the crumb-bums, Nightwing talks to the young girl and tells her that Santa got her/Sharra’s letter. He tells the father to check in with the Spillane Avenue Agency the following morning.
And so, we wrap up with the father… Dave Toussant earning the position of Superintendent of the building Dick Grayson lives in. All’s right with the world… ya know, until the bad guys get out of jail and come a’calling, right? Aw, screw it… it’s Christmas… they all lived happily ever after.
It’s been a lonnnnng time since I read an issue from this run of Nightwing. Forgot just how much world-building Chuck Dixon did. The entire cast… and city feel so fleshed out. Not the kind of attention to detail we’re accustomed to these days. Plenty of Dick Grayson-out-of-costume, to boot. This was a great series while Dixon was on it. Once he left things went downhill pretty quick, including Dick getting raped… and Bludhaven being destroyed. Boy, ya’d think DC had it out for our man Chuck, eh? That’s a subject… we’ll not discuss here.
Anyhoo… this was a fine issue that was kind of ruined for me due to the art. The letters page features a missive in which a reader complains about McCarthy’s art as well. The editor describes it as “cartoony”… but, I think that’s being a bit too kind. This looks like something you might find in OEL manga, or in fan-art… there’s little consistency in faces, it’s overly angular, and there’s just something “off” about the eyes. Just look at Dick’s partner, Amy Rohrbach… she shifts from semi-attractive potential love-interest to haggardly, pointy-faced, terrifying and just unpleasant… several times over here. I’ll definitely say that McCarthy has improved a hundred-fold since this era.
The story was a fine little Christmas aside… seems the bat-books were given the month off between massive crossovers, might as well fit in a Christmas special if ya can. At this point we were just coming off Joker’s Last Laugh and were just about to enter Bruce Wayne: Murderer?. The story itself, while perhaps a bit convenient, was fairly engaging. Though the ending is left a bit open. Not sure drug dealers are going to let this poor sap just live and work… they’re eventually going to want to make their money back, no? Unless Dick killed them all… but we know that’s not the case.
Overall… this was nothing I feel you need to break your back trying to track down or anything… but if you’re a Nightwing fan, and want to learn a bit about Bludhaven… since the Rebirth-ed series appears to be heading back there (or already has… I’m a bit behind), this isn’t a bad issue to grab.
|Perhaps not the worst $50 I’ve ever spent… but it’s up there…|