Nightwing has started 2023 by building the foundation for the future of Dawn Of DC. Specifically, the last two issues have shown Nightwing bringing the Titans back with the classic Marv Wolfman and George Perez New Teen Titans roster. Along with that Nightwing is also directly mentoring Jon Kent, as the young son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane looks to add more experience and skills as Superman. With both these stories are going on what will happen next? Let’s find out with Nightwing #102
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
With Oracle’s help Cyborg saves Nightwing after being locked in a morgue.
Cyborg and Nightwing then rush off to save Olivia Desmond from Neron’s minion that’s posing as Nightwing. With the rest of the Titans help Neron’s minion is defeated.
During an interrogation the Titans learn that the guy who tried to kidnap Olivia is someone who made a contract with Neron to become a master of disguise with super strength and flight so he can live out his super villain dream.
After learning this Donna Troy and Starfire take Olivia to Themyscira for protection.
Nightwing, Raven, Cyborg, Flash, and Beast Boy then get ready to go to Hell and steal the contract Blockbuster used to gain power and sign over his daughter’s soul to Neron. End of main story.
While doing their own thing, both the Titans “Rise Of The Underworld” main story and Nightwing and Superman team-up “Night At The Circus” back-up story work together to tell Dick Grayson’s narrative in the Dawn Of DC Era. The creative teams for both stories showcase why Nightwing is important to what DC Comics is doing with Dawn Of DC. At the same time, they stay consistent so these stories are positioned as the natural next step on Nightwing’s journey.
With the Titans story having the focus be on wrapping up the loose ends from the Blockbuster narrative is a great call. Tom Taylor once again shows how he has long-term planning with how he utilizes Olivia Desmond, daughter of Blockbuster, story introduced in Nightwing #98. Having previously introduced how Blockbuster signed his daughter’s soul over to Neron we have a story that Nightwing can’t deal with on his own. He does need his Titans teammates, specifically Raven, to help out when Neron shows back-up to get Olivia once again.
Neron using another person he had sign one of his deal with the Devil contracts is exactly what you expect. The person being similar to Blockbuster in that they were just seeking powers to become the super villain they dreamed off was perfect. There was nothing redeemable about this random guy even though his original appearance by Travis Moore gave the sad sack look to him. As soon as the guy starts talking you instantly want the Titans to shut him up.
This all works to put over how good it is to see the Titans work together again. The fight not being dragged out to several issues was a great call. We are sown how effectively the Titans work as team that they take down the guy given powers by Neron with no problem. This puts over the teams experience as whole. Even if its been a while since they teamed up in a superhero team way their chemistry never went away. This sets up this version of the Titans to be the strong team fans always hope to see but haven’t had the chance to due to various editorial reasons.
While Nightwing is the driver of the story its Raven who was the standout. Taylor is using the Neron story as an opportunity to dive more into Raven’s character. That is certainly needed as Raven is normally only ever given stories about her father Trigon. Showing how Raven takes the lead with other magic-based threats like Neron is a great showcase of her powers and history. Moore’s art especially drove home how personal this all is to Raven. She knows what it means to be in a position like Olivia Desmond and her anger is controlled for now but could boil over at any point.
All this works together to set-up a story that has now become, as Nightwing dubs it, a “Hell Heist.” This story taking a heist thriller direction is exactly the fun comics should have. With this mission in place we have a chance to see each member of the Titans highlighted bot individually and complimentary to one another. With Hell as the setting anything can happen as the Titans work to save Olivia’s soul from Neron.
The Nightwing and Superman back-up story by C.S. Pacat and Eduardo Pansica was a good continuation of what we saw in the previous issue. Dick Grayson and Jon Kent continue to have good chemistry with one another. There are clear roles defined with Jon being open to having Dick Grayson as his mentor.
Most importantly, this back-up story is a showcase of how Dick Grayson can excel in the mentor role during and beyond Dawn Of DC. While he is taking some inspiration from Bruce Wayne he isn’t limiting himself to how his mentor taught him. We see throughout the investigation Nightwing use his understand of Jon as a person to adapt his teaching style so Jon can learn and grow on the job. This works to both make Dick Grayson look great as a mentor and Jon Kent as a hero that is getting better every day as Superman.
In both the Titans and Superman stories we get even better developments that build off the foundation of the first part of each story in the previous issue. While working on separate stories Tom Taylor and C.S. Pacat maintain consistency with how Nightwing is portrayed in both stories. They are brought together by strong artwork from Travis Moore and Eduardo Pansica. It all comes together for a strong comic book in Nightwing #102.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10