Overview: In Nightwing #106, Dick Grayson investigates the mystery of The Hold, which will lead him to Heartless and encounter an old friend!
Title: Nightwing #106
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
Main Cover: Bruno Redondo
Variant Covers: Dan Mora, Jamal Campbell, Vasco Georgiev
Release Date: September 19th, 2023
Backup Story: Breakfast for Dinner Part 1 of 3
Writer: Michael Conrad
Artist: Serg Acuna
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
This comic book review contains spoilers
Two years ago, Ric Grayson was confronted by an old friend from Dick Grayson’s Haley’s Circus days with a package. Talking with his girlfriend Bea, they turned to The Quartermaster, who marked the package for Nightwing – should he ever return.
In the present, Nightwing (Dick Grayson) decides to find out the contents of the package left for him during the time he lost his memory. Before he makes it down to The Hold, however, Heartless arrives and briefly takes on The Quartermaster before killing him. He and Zucco make it inside and find the entire area completely vacated of its treasures and belongings.
Later, Nightwing speaks with Commissioner Sawyer at the murder scene when Oracle (Barbara Gordon) alerts him that the bodies left in Heartless’ wake were taken by paramedics not registered in Dick’s surveillance system. Nightwing gives chase, bursts into the speeding ambulance, and fights the “paramedics” before the car stops atop a ship upon the harbor. As he exits, he’s greeted by a whole gang of gunmen before they’re commanded to lower their weapons. Nightwing comes face to face with the daughter of the late Quartermaster – Bea!
In the backup story, Dick is training with Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) who cleans his clock with a fighting style known as Okichitaw. In exchange, Dick agrees to teach her how to cook.
Unbeknownst to the bird and the bat, they’re being spied upon by assassins who’ve been tailing Dick’s activities for the last four days. As Stephanie Brown arrives home at the Loft, the spy is surprised by the addition of a second woman and gives up chase while the three eat pancakes for dinner and watch Night of the Living Dead.
We’re finally back with classic Tom Taylor Nightwing adventures, having taken a long detour with The Titans, then dealing with the Knight Terrors storyline. Ultimately it’s the same as it’s been since Blockbuster died, with the events told at a leisurely pace and the stakes still relatively measured. This issue, however, we are given more intrigue and a sense of danger, with the second instance of Taylor invoking the controversial Ric Grayson saga.
I think is a fine use of the Ric story, and involving Bea could make for some potential juicy drama. While the Ric story wasn’t exactly bad in concept, it’s long been touted as a mishandled arc that went on for far too long and even was editorially mismanaged apart from Tom King’s intentions. Bringing it back to Nightwing’s present where everything is comparatively rosy with him and Barbara living their best lives is a prime set-up for Bea to throw a wrench in the gears. However, I’m hardly expecting this to turn to any sort of love triangle situation, as Taylor’s made this book pretty safe from anyone getting their feelings hurt. Steering clear of issues of jealousy, regret, and thoughts of once was and what could be isn’t this writer’s style, even if it would make more sense. While I’m not advocating that Bea try to take Nightwing back and set up some sort of confrontation with Barbara, I’m more wincing at the probability that Taylor will have everyone be hunky-dory around each other with zero sense of discomfort. Similar to the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man when Dan Slott brought Peter Parker back after the Superior Spider-Man storyline, and Anna Maria Marconi – Doc Ock’s love interest – felt very little in the way of pain at having to now deal with this new reality of her man being both dead and evil. My point is that sometimes the obvious dramatic potential to further engage the reader is right up for grabs, but goes untouched by a writer more interested in their main ongoing plots. Right now, I don’t…not care about the package given to Dick by The Hold, but after being siblings with the mayor of Bludhaven and inheriting Alfred’s fortune, what else does Dick really need to improve his life? So when Bea shows up at the end, I was pleasantly surprised at the potential, but realizing that potential may well be squandered for the sake of everyone playing nice-nice.
This is a decent issue, transitioning the events of the past several months back into the main Bludhaven arc. I liked Beast Boy’s appearance. But there really does seem to be too leisurely of a pace with the action side. Part of this may be owed to Stephen Byrne’s pencils. He’s a fine artist whose style reminds one of Redondo well enough, with Lucas’ colors helping on that end. But the ambulance chase sequence could’ve been far more dynamic. I’ll owe that more to Taylor’s scripting. He recalls Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, but Dick doesn’t have much to say during the chase or fight, making the whole scene feel less involved. It’s not bad, but it’s not good, it’s…fine.
The backup story was brief but nice all the same. With the cancellation of the Batgirls book, I was happy to see Steph and Cass have their adventures continue with Dick under the writing of Michael Conrad. While that series ultimately wasn’t as great as I would’ve wanted it to be, Conrad’s writing of Cassandra Cain was generally solid throughout. The artwork by Serg Acuna was a real standout however, employing a straight-up anime vibe with spikey hair and colorful eyes. Cass had what looked to be red eyes, which was a neat look that recalls Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. The story didn’t go far but the reaction by the spy about Dick presumably dating Steph and Cass was funny.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.