ACW #613 – Nightwing

Action Comics Weekly #613 (Nightwing)
“The Cheshire Contract!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Chuck Patton
Inks – Tom Poston
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Barbara Kesel

A couple weeks back, when we introduced the Catwoman feature to Action Comics Weekly, I wondered aloud how it took so long to incorporate a Bat-Family member into the anthology… and here we are introducing a second, though… perhaps more importantly, the first Titans-adjacent feature!

We gotta remember the New Teen Titans was the book around this time… and it’s definitely a bit strange that it’s taken quite this long to sprinkle some “Titans Dust” into the Action Comics Weekly experiment.

Let’s get to it!

We open with Nightwing taking out a boatload of Smugglers.  Dick engages in some Spidey-esque banter with the baddies, and opines on the current state of hero/villain chatter being “grim”.  He, of course, isn’t wrong about that considering the era in which this takes place.  Dick winds up staring down the barrels of a couple of the Smugglers’ guns… thankfully, from the dock, his buddy Speedy fires an arrow which disarms ’em.

After handing the cigarette smugglers over to authorities, Roy and Dick head back to Titans Tower to chat.  Roy has quite a proposition… involving a mission.  A mission that the other Titans cannot be part of, because it involves Cheshire.  Quite why that fact disqualifies the other Titans from taking part, I haven’t the foggiest.  Dick seems confused as well!  Worth noting, they also discuss a recent meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev… which, are they talking about what went down in our Deadman feature?!  I hope so!

Anyhoo, Dick agrees, and next thing we know he and Roy are landing in Washington, D.C..  At the hotel, they talk about how they both used to be wards of millionaires… and they were both fired by those millionaires.  Dick take umbrage to this statement, claiming that he had voluntarily quit working with/for Batman.

The heroes suit-up, and head for the rendezvous point atop the C.B.I. Building.  Along the way, Dick fills Roy (and the reader) in on his evolution from Boy Wonder to Nightwing.  Atop that building, Roy’s contact hands over a file, indicating that Cheshire’s next hit is in London.

Turns out, that’s exactly where she is!  She, and a hostage are inside the clockworks of Big Ben.  She is there in order to assassinate an Ambassador.

Next we know, Nightwing and Speedy are already in Londontown!  They are rushing through a Labor Party demonstration, beelining straight to that Ambassador.  Cheshire notices that her, ugh, baby-daddy is in her sights… and decides she’s going to have to pull the trigger regardless.

Really good start here!

Weird to consider that it took so long for Nightwing to get his own ongoing title after this… he seems like a safe bet to carry his own book.  Though, continuity was (thankfully) much tighter back then, and I’d wager Wolfman and Co. would try and make all of his stories jive with those in New Teen Titans.  Might’ve been more of an editorial headache than it was worth.  Who knows?

Onto the story… it was a lot of fun.  Cheshire has never been one of my favorites, but I appreciate how they’re using her here… and look forward to a little bit of “cat and mouse” that might be coming our way.  It’s been forever since I’ve read this, so I don’t remember how it plays out… actually, this was the first Action Comics Weekly story I’d ever read way back in the day.

Ya see, sometime around the turn of the century (I can’t remember which side of 2000 it was, but it was around there), I bought a “blind box” of comics from a local shop.  It was something like $5 for fifty random books.  As you might imagine, it was mostly glut-era Image and obscure indie stuff… but also, this very issue!

Back then, I didn’t know Action from Weekly, and didn’t have a clue that this was ever a “thing”.  The fact that Nightwing was on the cover of a book, which… far as I knew, was a flagship Superman book, caused me to raise an eyebrow.  So, I checked it out!  And, for the longest time, this was the oldest issue of Action Comics in my collection!

Anyhoo, back to the story.  I appreciate Marv playing up the similarities between Dick and Roy, I’d wager that this was pretty illuminating for newer readers of the day (including myself the first time around).  Also dug the quick and dirty explanation of how Robin became Nightwing.  In the days before Wikipedia, this would be much appreciated by curious new readers.

Roy’s reluctance to include the rest of the Titans is pretty telling… as was some of the chatter between he and his C.B.I. contact in Washington, D.C..  Seems as though the fella was about to reveal something that Roy didn’t want Dick to know.  I’m guessing this will all come to light before long.

Overall, Nightwing is a welcome arrival, and much more interesting than Deadman and Secret Six were toward the end of their first stints.

Tomorrow: The Phantom Stranger pokes his head back in…

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