Review by Frank Plowright
Devin Grayson’s long run on Nightwing from 2003 isn’t greatly appreciated by the character’s fans. There’s evidence justifying that view, but all in comics never collected as graphic novels. They precede Mobbed Up, which clips along at a fair pace, is nicely drawn by Phil Hester, is smartly plotted on an emotional level while offering surprises.
The first of them is Dick Grayson (no relation) on crutches accompanying two elderly mobsters. It’s obvious he’s undercover, and visual flashback panels indicate the break with the past. The crutches are a permanent accessory, necessary to add weight to his story of being a former police officer shot in the line of duty and left with injuries. Reading this alone, at first it’s uncertain if Dick is using the crutches so the mobsters will underestimate him, or if they’re genuinely required. His creative use of them in dangerous situations, though, suggests the latter, and Grayson has her namesake very regretful, and almost resentful and embittered, which is a new side to his personality.
Because this is a crime drama instead of a superhero outing Hester’s art is exactly what’s needed, moody and accentuating shadows. It’s necessary that the mobsters are sympathetic guys in spite of their trade, and Hester gives them vulnerability needed to show there are things they care about. Cliff Chiang fills in on the final chapter, in 2006 a relatively unknown artist, yet showing all the skills set to change that status very rapidly.
Chiang works on the best of the five chapters, cleverly having the narrative captions of young Sophia Tevis accompanying illustrations of Nightwing going about his business in Blüdhaven. It’s a heartbreaker, all the solid set-up work paying off. Grayson ends with a cliffhanger picked up in Renegade.