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Nightwing #101 Review – “Rise Of The Underworld”

Nightwing helped usher in the Dawn of DC with its 100th issue last month. In that issue not only did we get Nightwing’s new direction as a pillar of the DCU but also Dick Grayson’s decision to bring back the Titans. What makes the return of the Titans bigger than ever this time around is that it’s being done in a world without the Justice League. Without the Justice League around the Titans are well positioned to be elevated to where many fans have always wanted the characters and team to reach. Now before they get their own series in May the Titans are getting a shadow pilot in the Nightwing ongoing series. How will the Titans reunion go? Let’s find out with Nightwing #101


Writer: Tom Taylor (Rise Of The Underworld); C.S. Pacat (Night At The Circus)

Artist: Travis Moore (Rise Of The Underworld); Eduardo Pansica (Night At The Circus)

Inker: Julio Ferreira (Night At The Circus)

Colorist: Adriano Lucas

Letterer: Wes Abbott


After learning that Nightwing stopped his followers from claiming Blockbuster’s daughter (Olivia Desmond seen in Nightwing #98) soul Neron leaves Hell to meet with the King of Vlatava to cash in on a favor owed.

Elsewhere Nightwing checks up on Olivia Desmond, who is living with Raven and Beast Boy. Raven mentions that they will eventually have to find Olivia a permanent home while keeping her protected. Nightwing understands but first must deal with the report of a body being found in the ruins of Titans Academy.

Nightwing, Raven, Beast Boy Protect Olivia Desmond
Artwork by Travis Moore in Nightwing #101. Credit: DC Comics

Over at the ruins of Titans Academy Nightwing, Raven, and Starfire meet with the police. Starfire immediately lifts all the rubble up alone so they can reach the body.

The body turns out to not be a former student but that of the King of Vlatava.

Amanda Waller soon appears to deal with things but Nightwing has already started investigating the body and agrees to share whatever information he has discovered.

At the coroner’s office, the Vlatava investigator knocks out Nightwing. The investigator turns out to be one of Neron’s minions. The Neron minion then transforms into Nightwing and joins Raven and Starfire in going to check on Olivia. End of the main story.


It’s a new time in Nightwing’s life. No longer just a solo hero or team leader on the Titans. Rather than keeping them separate as he has for the last four decades both his solo hero and Titans life are now merged into one. That is something both the main and backup stories in Nightwing #101 get across.

The main story by Tom Taylor and Travis Moore accomplishes the bigger scope Dick Grayson will now have as Nightwing. No longer dealing with things going on in Gotham City and Bludhaven, Nightwing is getting involved in other things. Specifically, here we see Nightwing dealing more with the fallout from Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths as he takes the lead in investigating the ruins of Titans Tower.

Taylor does a good job of addressing what the destruction of Titans Academy at the hands of Deathstroke meant to Nightwing and Starfire in particular. As the one placed in charge of Titans Academy, we see that Starfire took a much more no-nonsense approach as she immediately searched for the body that was discovered in the rubble. Without saying it Moore got over how much of a responsibility Starfire felt for the possible student that was previously not found. It was a nice touch to once again emphasize how even though we are heading into a new direction for the Titans previous continuity like Titans Academy will not be discounted.

Nightwing vs Amanda Waller
Artwork by Travis Moore in Nightwing #101. Credit: DC Comics

This investigation also naturally tied into the greater Dawn of DC direction as we see Amanda Waller immediately show up when the King of Vlatava’s body was discovered. In the process, we get a great face-off between two of the leads in the Dawn of DC direction with Nightwing and Amanda Waller meeting. Always the government official Amanda Waller was quick to call out the improper process of the Titans moving the body. By Amanda Waller trying to pull off a gotcha moment Nightwing in response pulled off a move Batman would be proud of by showing he already did all the investigation Waller’s squad was going to do.

Again, all of this worked together to further establish how Dick Grayson is taking the responsibility of being the leader of the DCU Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman gave him seriously. Scenes with other important DCU figures like Amanda Waller naturally get this part of Nightwing’s direction over. This gets Nightwing to that next level as a leader that has more responsibilities than just leading the Titans but is involved in other things going on in the DCU.

The one aspect that did not completely work in this direction is how everything Taylor has been doing with Bludhaven feels forgotten. Once again we see Dick Grayson’s supporting cast pushed to the side to build up another series, this time that being the future Titans series. This once again stops the momentum of how Taylor has tried to build out Dick Grayson’s supporting cast with characters like his new sister Melinda Grayson. Once this Titans shadow pilot is done hopefully we will get back to seeing Dick Grayson interacting with his supporting cast that isn’t just tied to his Nightwing identity.

That said, going back to the Titans story, having Neron brought in as the main villain of this new story makes great use of previous storytelling. Here we get a follow-up to the deal with the devil that Blockbuster made with Neron, revealed in Nightwing #98, and see that keeping Olivia Desmond safe is easier said than done. Following up on this plotline shows Taylor long-term plotting as there is still this fallout from Blockbuster, one of Nightwing’s biggest villains, defeat.

While basic Neron is showcased exactly how you expect this devil-like figure to act. There is no complexity in Neron’s actions. He is simply mad that someone went against the contract he formed and now is personally going after Olivia Desmond to claim her soul. With this in place, there is even more of a reason why Nightwing needs his Titans friends to help save the young girl.

Nightwing and Superman Team-Up
Artwork by Eduardo Pansica in Nightwing #101. Credit: DC Comics

The backup story by C.S. Pacat and Eduardo Pansica does a good job at following up on Nightwing training Jon Kent that we saw established in the Nightwing 2022 Annual. This was another great showcase of how Dick Grayson has moved beyond Bruce’s shadow as he is now seen as a mentor to other heroes. And as he did when he mentored Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson shows an understanding that he can’t treat everyone the same as a protégé. Dick gets that Jon isn’t just searching for someone to help train his powers but also to guide him in what it means to be the leader of the next generation of heroes.

With that in mind we see that Nightwing is guiding the young Superman to use his powers to properly investigate situations rather than just jumping in. That is seen with how Nightwing has Jon use his x-ray vision to find a bomb. It’s quick thinking like this that will help Jon grow as Superman.

All of this storytelling is done well with a short page count. Pacat and Pansica maximize the time they are given with the time they are given to tell a story that stands on its own. By doing so they are able to create a good hook ending to this chapter in the story that makes you want to find out what happens next in this backup.


Nightwing #101 is a strong follow-up to the new direction Dick Grayson is taking as a pillar in the Dawn of DC. Connecting this story with Neron as the villain to how things ended with Blockbuster worked to transition us into a pilot for the upcoming Titans ongoing series. That along with a lot of great character interactions continue to show why Nightwing is one of DC Comics’ standout series.

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10