In this review of Nightwing #107, Nightwing encounters the new Captain of The Hold…Bea Bennett! But he was RIC Grayson’s ex-flame, not his!
Title: Nightwing #107
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
Main Cover: Bruno Redondo
Release Date: October 20th, 2023
Backup Story: Emo Buddy part 2 of 3
Writer: Michael Conrad
Artist: Serg Acuna
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
This Review Contains Spoilers
Nightwing has been taken to Captain Blud, leader of The Hold: Bea Bennett, his previous’ identity Ric Grayson’s old flame. Initially taken down to the brig by Bea’s men, Nightwing briefly battles them before Bea interrupts to inform Dick of what he owes to her late father and the rest of the crew. She explains that when Dick took Zucco into custody, it was overriding the rules of the Hold that he should face their justice. With her father now dead, Nightwing can only make things right by assisting Bea in an oncoming power struggle with her adopted brother Dirk, who will aim to assume the mantle of Captain Blud.
Nightwing agrees to help and dresses out of his suit into a pirate-romantic getup. Suddenly one of Bea’s men is thrown overboard. Just as Dick is ready to jump into the ocean to save him, he inexplicably freezes. Bea rescues her man, then informs Dick that where they’ll be going, no one else can know of it’s location. She gives him a simple one-way mask, discarding his Nightwing lenses and disconnecting him from Oracle and all possible backup from other heroes.
In the backup story, Dick and Jason Todd are hanging out at the Lowdown Bar, continuously being spied upon by menacing bikers. The former Robins leave, anticipating the fight that follows, making short work of the would-be assassins who have no idea of their alter egos. As the man who hired the bikers arrives in the alley outside the bar, he finds then men sprawled out all over the ground with a written warning from Dick to drop their pursuit.
This was one of the better scripted Taylor issues, with plenty of things going on between several characters. The veritable love triangle between Dick/Ric, Bea and Babs is played up more than I was expecting from the end of last issue, with no characters feeling much in the way of jealousy or pining, but there are still weird feelings all the same. Dick knows that Bea has a right to feel tossed aside after he regained his memories, but he’s still reeling from learning of her double identity as Captain Blud. So as the plot moves forward at a fine pace, the characters’ thoughts keep us invested with each new development.
Talking about the revelation of Bea, I do wonder to what extent this is Taylor filling in logic blanks from the Ric Grayson era. There’s a whole page of Nightwing using the revelation of her identity to explain several things she did during the Dan Jurgens run. Writing like that can be interpreted as a critique of the old writer. While that’s admittedly a very Twitter-hostile take on the situation, the Ric era of Nightwing was loudly maligned by readers, and Taylor – I feel – would have no problem pointing some logical fallacies of it out if he felt he could get away with it. And logic holes are always welcome to fill by succeeding writers. I am wondering however if having Bea be this secret pirate is a good idea or not. Comic books these days have moved away from the heroes’ personal lives, and having a memorable supporting character who was a normal person be revealed to have this adventuring past may be seen as…a bit trite. It’s hardly the first time this has happened, if readers are aware of the Spider-Man comics and how many of Peter Parker’s old classmates have now gotten superpowers. For my take, it’s still an interesting revelation, but one that risks being badly handled if she’s written to be all pirate, all the time. If the bar-tending Bea of a few years ago no longer exists in her character because of the revelation, then that’s a letdown. She shouldn’t just become a completely new person using an old character’s name and face.
Nevertheless there were still a lot of bits I liked about the writing in this issue. I liked Nightwing noting that fighting in the brig was a bad idea, as it couldn’t take the weight of a bunch of heavyweights throwing themselves at each other. Also the scene of Dick having a panic attack was a new and unexpected wrinkle. It reminds me of Barbara Gordon in the new 52 freezing at the sight of a gun, but this makes more sense, as Dick may be triggered by Bea’s presence and subconscious triggers back to the Ric persona may be creeping forward. It’s a really unexpected twist, without an obvious solution or explanation. And the fact that he’s forced to disconnect from Oracle means he can’t simply summon all his friends to bail him out of trouble, which has been a problem with the Taylor era for a while.
The backup story in Nightwing #107 disappointed me at first, as I was hoping we’d get more of Steph and Cass. I ended up enjoying Dick and Jason together, as they’re rarely teamed in the same story (and this must take place well before Batman #138). I think Conrad leans into the internet writing of the characters a bit too much for my liking however. Steph and Cass are two woobies, and Jason’s referred to as “emo”, which doesn’t “not” fit, but it feels less as his character and more of an archetype younger fans are attracted to. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the AO3 reading, Twitter-following Gen-Z era fans of the Bat-Family, as some popular takes are totally outside my reading experience and more borne out of their fanfiction, but I’m also acknowledging that most of that is me shaking my fist at a cloud.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of Nightwing #107 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.