This review encapsulates both parts of “Rise of Raptor”. Dick joins Tiger on an Owls bust to get his mind off the outcome of “The Night of the Monster Men”. While on the mission, a member of Kobra attacks the spiral agents and murders the members of the Parliament inside the penthouse. After a call from Spyral HQ regarding a trace on the names in the book Nightwing and Raptor recovered, Dick goes out to find Raptor. Aboard Raptor’s plane, Dick calls Raptor out for lying to him. Raptor assaults Dick’s ideals about justice, setting up their ideological battle. When Dick has heard enough, he lets his fists fly. During the fight, Dick finds out Raptor has been keeping tabs on him and knows his mother. Raptor drugs him and heads to Gotham City to kidnap Bruce Wayne during a press conference. Dick wakes up on the cave with Damien belittling him about allowing Raptor to take Bruce and Dick finds an invitation in the form of a picture of his mother.
In the next issue, there is a flashback to young Dick listening in on a conversation between his parents in which they are discussing Raptor. It cuts back to Dick chasing after Raptor to save Bruce. It leads him to the Romani circus in Paris. Raptor teases Bruce as he’s tied to a chair. As Bruce tries to talk to Raptor, Raptor cuts him off and explains why he took Bruce. It’s because of what Dick Grayson has become, a shadow of the Bat and Bruce instead of being like his own people. Raptor uses the rising stock price of Wayne Enterprises and a sharpened silver spoon as a weapon against Bruce. Dick arrives and they fight. As they duke it out, Raptor lays out his beliefs and why he hates the rich as well as how he grew up in the very place they fought. Raptor became sick and was forced out of the circus and sent out on his own. Only Dick’s mother would help him. He made an oath to protect her and her family. Dick realizes that raptor is in more pain than he thought and, like Bruce, stuck in one moment where he failed. Dick told Raptor that taking him in saved Bruce from becoming like Raptor. Bruce gets himself loose just before the spoon stabs him and jumps from up high. Dick catches him. Tiger shows up and takes Raptor into custody. Dick apologies to Bruce, feeling that this was all his fault. When Dick said something about Bruce falling, he said he jumped because he knew Dick would catch him.
These issues were written by main series writer Tim Steely and drawn by Javier Fernandez. Issue 7 was okay. It didn’t blow me away and the pacing was a little off. The discussion went from 0-60 in a matter of panels, granted they are building from the first Nightwing arc. I think “Monster Men” broke up the original plan for the story. This felt like the ending to the first arc rather than its own thing. I did enjoy the end when Bruce realized he couldn’t fight him without giving himself away. I wish more stories surrounded Bruce the person rather than Batman like how this focused on Dick Grayson. I usually have issues with this new canon overwriting the characters’ back stories, like the Court of Owls, but I enjoyed the fact that Raptor is someone from Dick’s past. Higgins did something similar in his New 52 run involving Haly’s Circus. Of course, they threw Damien in at the end. I’ll say it again… I’m not a huge Damien fan. I did like the Pre-Flashpoint dynamic of Dick as Batman and Damien as Robin, though. It would’ve been nice to see them team up in issue 8, but I like the solo battle too.
Getting into Issue 8, This was a lot stronger that the previous issue. This was all payoff which culminates all Steely’s issues so far. I do enjoy the art in the issues, although sometimes it gets clunky. Bruce was fantastic in the issue as well as our main hero. I think the dialogue in this truly gets to the gist of who Dick is for the first time in Rebirth. I love the end where Bruce says he knew he’d catch him and the scene where Dick tells Raptor that he saved Bruce because it’s true. I believe with all my heart that Dick Grayson is the heart and soul of the DC universe. That’s why everyone flips out when they try to kill him off. Dick connects to most aspects of this world from the Justice League to the Titans to now Spyral. This issue seemed to drive that home for me. Without Dick, we’d be left with a Bruce more akin to Batman v Superman than what we find in the books. But this isn’t a BvS hate fest…
Overall, the issues on their own are meh, but together were great. If I were to point out some negatives, the big ones would be pacing and somewhat the art. The pluses are the endings and the ideas behind them. For issue 7, I’d give a score of 66%. For issue 8, I’d give a score of 77%. That would give an average of 71.5%, which sounds about right. I don’t want to drop this series because of my love for Nightwing. I still profess that Batman and Spidey top him on my top comic book characters list, but sometimes I think Dick Grayson truly is the best comic book character. He takes the idea of Batman and the personality of Spidey and mixes it together. Anyway, I hope this series continues to get better.