Nightwing has had a very different 2023 compared to other solo ongoing series. The first half of the year creating momentum for the new Titans series and then the summer on helping the Knight Terrors event. Now after all that we are getting the first big story arc focused back on Nightwing’s solo adventures. But rather than exploring the state of Bludhaven post-Blockbuster, Nightwing is hitting the high seas as the pirate society he ran into last year are back. How will Dick Grayson handle dealing with a secret pirate society? Let’s find out with Nightwing #106.
Writer: Tom Taylor (The Crew Of The Crossed); Michael W. Conrad (Breakfast For Dinner)
Artist: Stephen Byrne (The Crew Of The Crossed); Serg Acuña (Breakfast For Dinner)
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
“Sail the high seas with Nightwing and Batgirl as they journey across the ocean in search of the Hold’s secret society that dates back to when Blüdhaven was founded. We saw previously in Nightwing #99 that the Hold’s vault held several safes…and here we’ll find out there has always been one left for Nightwing.” – DC Comics
The whole Ric Grayson era for Nightwing was one that I would rather forget than anything else. It just was not a good point for the character or the series history. But leave it to Tom Taylor, along with new artist Stephen Byrne joining the series, to actually turn that forgettable period into a new storyline that draws actual intrigue.
Putting aside feelings for the whole Ric Grayson saga, Taylor does make great use of that period as the entry point for this new pirate society story. There is immediate depth given to the story as we see that there was more going on during that period than Ric Grayson trying to be the anti-Dick Grayson. We see that while Ric was against his previous life there was a part of him that knew his memories would come back some day. With that rather than burning the package from the person connected to Dick Grayson’s life at Haly’s Circus he stored it away due to its importance.
More importantly this development gives Bea Bennett greater character depth than just being Ric Grayson’s love interest. Showing that Bea did have a life before meeting Ric gets her away from just being a created to be a love interest to a actual person with her own story. Bea being part of a secret pirate society where she is known as Captain Blud is a strong development. Its something that is rich for potential that can go beyond this story. Which is what you want from any good character.
The set-up to get to that point also works to build on elements Taylor was building for the post-Blockbuster era for Nightwing. We’ve seen Heartless making plans to take control but failing to do so. With Nightwing seemingly countering all his moves teaming up with Tony Zucco is a logical next step. This brings together two of Nightwing’s biggest villains at the moment. Both have reasons to hate both Nightwing and Dick Grayson in different ways. It’s the shared hatred for both sides of Dick Grayson that makes the story more intriguing.
Heartless and Tony Zucco’s kickstarting this story was done in way were they could easily exit the story. Taylor sets things up in a way where now Nightwing will have to focus on what the Captain Blud and the secret pirate society have going on after the death of the quartermaster. This allows the pirate adventure to be the focus while leaving the Heartless and Tony Zucco angle as a building block for a bigger Bludhaven-related story.
Because of the ties to the Ric Grayson saga, Stephen Byrne does a good job at invoking the art styles of Ronan Cliquet and Ryan Benjamin during this period of Nightwing. Byrne then makes adjustments to have a look similar to what Bruno Redondo has established during this run. By doing these art adjustments Byrne is able to nail the story of two eras for Nightwing. And most importantly, Byrne shows he has a good sense of creating movement with the chase scene we get towards the end of this issue.
The back-up story for Nightwing #106 is arguably the best Batgirl related story that Michael W. Conrad has written. Conrad created genuine chemistry between Dick Grayson, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown. Their interactions, particular with Dick Grayson and Cassandra Cain, was handle in a great way to get over the cool big brother hanging out with his sisters. Along with Serg Acuña’s great artwork the back-up story gets over why having a united Batman Family can be fun.
Nightwing #106 accomplishes many things. It contains the best story angle for the Ric Grayson saga with how it leads into a greater pirate adventure. The bigger storyline involving Heartless and Tony Zucco is progressed. And we get the best Batgirls story in over a year. Combining all that together Nightwing #106 does everything to get fans excited for what comes next.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10