Nightwing: Brothers in Blood

I really wanted to like this comic. After all, there’s a lot to like.  Nightwing has relocated to New York, and must contend with an imposter running around the city and killing criminals in his name.  We learn that said imposter is none other than Jason Todd, and the two have numerous fights before Dick must ultimately go to Jason’s rescue after he’s kidnapped.   That portion of the story was entertaining, and could have made me really enjoy this comic.

Unfortunately, there’s one facet of the story that I just can’t get past.  The entire time I was reading, it was clear that this comic was written with a very clear target audience in mind; specifically, men in either their teens or early 20s.  What makes me say that? Simple.

Cheyenne Freemont.

The introduction of a side character with metahuman powers who just happens to be involved with Dick Grayson, and who even learns his secret identity early on, should have made me really happy.  I’m always looking for new, exciting female characters to read about, and the fact that Cheyenne was a successful businesswoman with her own powers was exciting.

Exciting, that is, until you start to notice the real focus of the story.

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In her very first scene, we see Cheyenne laying in bed with Dick, complimenting him on his…abilities.  Okay, I wasn’t hating on the comic at this point. It wasn’t fascinating reading, but I figured it was just an opportunity for the writers to create a steamy-ish scene, so I just went with it.

Until it happened again. And again. And again.

It seems like the only thing Cheyenne is useful for in most of this comic is providing Dick with a little stress relief. She even goes so far as to offer herself to him in her place of business.

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This felt like a completely gratuitous comic meant to let male readers watch their own fantasies play out on the page.  Cheyenne has very little personality developed, instead only existing to play off of Dick and be there for whatever needs and desires he may have.

Towards the end of the comic there was a glimmer of hope: With Jason Todd in trouble, Dick has to go rescue him, and Cheyenne puts on a Nightwing-style uniform to help.

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Okay, female Nightwing. I can get behind that. Except look at the first thing Dick says to her. “Top’s a little snug on you, isn’t it?”

*sigh*  I could have let this go, except as I was reading I kept track of references like this, and no fewer than FOUR separate people, some very secondary characters, comment on Cheyenne’s top in this outfit.

WHY WHY WHY???

I found this completely distracting from the story, as literally every character on the page was focused on her chest. Even the bad guy instantly recognizes her in the uniform, commenting that he’d, “recognize that figure anywhere.” The focus is solely on her appearance, with little to no reference made to her abilities. It frustrated me way too much.  Maybe it was the writers’ attempt at creating a running gag that readers would find funny, but it was just sexist and ridiculous.

Then there’s the ending, where she loses her powers, gives up the Nightwing persona (which she had for all of 5 minutes) and leaves town.  She’s never once treated like an actual person within the comics, rather merely a placeholder so that Nightwing has someone to sleep with throughout the story.  Had the story been written differently, Cheyenne could have been a really interesting character, with her own unique backstory and a dichotomy with Dick that could work really well.  As it stands, she’s little more than a cliche, relegated to the sidelines as the boys go out and engage in the real action.

The entire comic felt like a boy’s fantasy come to life, and quite frankly I found it annoying.  There were a few scenes that were better written, and a couple moments that showed promise, but ultimately they lacked the depth I’ve come to expect from comics, leaving me grateful that this trade was brief.

-Jess