Overview: In this review of Nightwing #110, can Nightwing and Superman rescue Damian from the Beastworld transformation that’s turned him into a fearsome feline called Mr. Mittens?!
Written by: Tom Taylor
Art by: Sami Basri
Cover by: Bruno Redondo
Variant covers by: Dan Mora, Travis Moore, Inhyuk Lee
Release Date: January 16, 2024
This review contains spoilers
Synopsis: Three days ago, the woman calling herself Apex Ava was admitted to Arkham Tower. When a Beast Boy Starro spore attacks, Ava stabs it and bites it’s tentacle, becoming infected.
In the present, Nightwing alerts Superman (Jon Kent) that Robin has gone missing. The heroes go to the Iceberg Lounge, now being managed by Penguins twin children Aiden and Addison. They inquire about Beast-People who’ve gone missing in Gotham City, which leads them to The Pit – an underground area for veritable cage fighting between Beast-Folk.
Damian appears – now called Mr. Mittens – and is forced to fight a giant Bear woman. Dick and Jon hold back and observe the situation for as long as they can, wary to the risk of Jon potentially being infected if he’s exposed by the Beast World spores. Eventually Damian/Mittens gains the upper hand in the fight and nearly kills the Bear woman before Nightwing and Superman intervene. Flying him out of The Pit, the three go far outside the city and wait for the spore inside Damian to revel itself, which it does before quickly being destroyed. Damian reverts back to normal, with no memory of his actions and worried he hurt people as Mr. Mittens. The heroes return to The Pit to apprehend the ringleaders and Apex Ava, who transforms into a bird and flies away.
Analysis: I really enjoyed the artwork in this issue. Sami Basri has always done great work, with his pencils blending well with Vincent Cifuentes’ inks and Adriano Lucas’ colors. While I miss Bruno Redondo who’s been away for a long time, this team was more than solid for this kind of bombastic superhero story. It’s my biggest takeaway from this issue.
I’m still bothered by everything that went down in Nightwing #109, so I went into this less than thrilled to get back into the Tom Taylor Nightwing world. I’m also behind on both Titans and Beast World, so my interest while reading had to be brought out with more effort than I’m comfortable admitting.
And this is a passable issue, with not much bringing it up or taking it down. Taylor’s been crafting this relationship between Dick and Jon Kent, and adding the Damian factor in the mix makes it interesting. That’s a key element of the DC Universe that was more prevalent years ago, the differing relationships. We’ve been getting them in Batgirls with Bas, Steph and Cass. Here we’ve got a new trifecta, and that Jon is part of the Superman Family makes it all the more variable and new. There’s not a whole lot building off that in this issue, but the potential for future adventures remain. Especially with the current era of Superman books under the Phillip K Johnson run, where we’ve got the Super-Family all together. Could we have a Superman and Batman Family crossover in the near future? I’d check that out.
But there’s not a lot to say about this issue, which is admittedly a tie-in story that would most likely have been written by a fill-in writer were it not for the fact that Taylor is the architect behind Beast World. Having personally just read a bunch of Beast Boy stories in preparation for Beast World, I find Ava Apex moderately interesting insofar as she’s got the same abilities as he does. Other things I weren’t so keen on. Even though they first appeared in Chip Zdarsky’s Batman, the addition of two more children of The Penguin was kind of eye-rolling. And Nightwing carries on like they’ve always been here. That’s a personal problem not terribly endemic to any greater weaknesses of the writing. More clichéd however was the concept of The Pit, which apparently got up in started in 72 hours after the initial global infection of the Beast Boy spores. I wish that concepts like these would have more weight and believability put into them to enhance their validity. A single line from Nightwing reacting to such a thing existing in Gotham would’ve been nice. But Superman picks it up and drops it in front of a prison anyway, so we’ll never see it again I suppose.
Last thing I’ll mention is the familial dialogue which gets to be a bit much after a while, especially depending on the context. Nightwing threatens Ava over capturing his “brother”, a term he describes Damian as to her. Not that the Bat-Family have to put on airs to criminals that they’re all strangers or anything, but he should carry himself less emotionally towards villains – especially a new one who is just hitting the scene. There’s nothing to gain by presenting their relationship like that, and it feels like he’s giving her information to exploit in the future, even if she hadn’t escaped.
This issue is harmless, with the art team working above and beyond to sell it more than the writing. An extra half-point goes entire to their awesome efforts.
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 pre-ordering this issue digitally on Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.