DC Comics Comments on... DC Comics?
| Nightwing #77 called "the most political comic this year." Really? |
On December 16, 2020 Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston reviewed the newly published Nightwing #77 by Dan Jurgens. The synopsis for the issue provided by DC Comics suggested a fairly typical Christmas-y story for a costumed crime-fighter struggling to balance public and private personas:
Christmas has come to Gotham City, and all across the city people have taken time out of their busy schedules to spend time with loved ones. But Dick Grayson has found himself in the midst of a dilemma: How can he take time off when crime never sleeps? And how can he spend time with loved ones when he has pushed them all away? An answer, in the form of a random encounter with a lost soul-and kindred spirit-awaits him.
But Johnston's review didn't look at the stresses and sorrows of the holiday season for a masked vigilante; instead, Johnston focused on Nightwing's defense of the technology firm Dexiturn from hackers threats, despite Dexiturn's tendency to put profit over people.
Johnston argued, "Making cannon fodder out of its employees and suppliers could be seen as similar to the recent actions of AT&T in buying Warner Bros, and with DC Comics being stripped back, employees fired, products cut and with rumours of licenses being sold to Penguin Random House or switched away from comic shops to digital publication." (For more on the DC Comics layoffs see Johnston's article from November 11, 2020.)
For Johnston, the comic seemed to be making pointed commentary about big business, brands, and profits - leading to a headline that provocatively asked, "Nightwing #77, The Most Political Comic This Year Targets DC Owners?"
Though I don't disagree with the Johnston's core reading of the comic, nor do I disagree with the comic's possible indictment of what's been happening in DC (I'm a DC fan; I hate to see these cuts), I do question elevating the issue to "most political comic this year." I would give that honor to AHOY Comics' Billionaire Island (which I discussed a few weeks ago), or to Image Comics' Department of Truth (which I also discussed recently), or to the brand new Post-Americana, or to any issue of Undiscovered Country whose pandemic storyline was relevant even before COVID-19. Attacking corporations and their cheap treatment of life is nothing new for Billionaire Island writer Mark Russell, who does it not only in B.I. (or, should I say, "F.U.") but also in his run on The Flintstones and Prez (read more about the politics in both titles in my forthcoming Politics in the Gutters).
Furthermore, to dub Nightwing #77 as the "most political comic," I think, undermines the inherent politics of comics overall. Comics are, as Marvel claims, a look at the world outside our window. That world is political and politicized. For more on why comics are always political and/or should be political, read this, or this, or, especially, this now famous (and infamous) essay by Art Spiegelman. (Also, read my concluding chapter in Politics in the Gutters).
~Christina M. Knopf
17 December 2020