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Nightwing (v.4) #104 (2023)

Nightwing (vol.4) #104 (July, 2023)
“Rise of the Underworld, Finale”
Writer – Tom Taylor
Art – Travis Moore
Colors – Adriano Lucas
Letters – Wes Abbott
Edits – Berbey, Chen, Abernathy
Cover Price: $4.99

Been using the silly pre-ramble section of these pieces to talk more about the covers than I usually do… mostly because I’ve been away from writing for so long, that I still haven’t quite found my footing. There are only so many times I can say, out loud and to myself, “Wow, it’s weird to be writing again” and “Wonder how long THIS is going to last?”.

With that in mind… hey, check out the cover! It’s like that meme… and, well… I can’t decide whether or not it annoys me! I feel like it really SHOULD but it kinda doesn’t. I dunno, maybe I’m softening… or maybe my brain is smoothing. Whatever the case, here it is:

And yeah, I just Googled “Ohhh meme”.

Anyway, howsabout I quit with the vampin’ and we wrap up this first Titan-ic Dawn of DC arc?

We pick up right where we left off last issue… Nightwing has just been granted superpowers by Neron in the baddie’s attempt at tempting our hero into signing Olivia’s soul over to him. Dick’s just getting a taste of the “great power”… two hours… but, it can be made permanent if he coughs up the kid’s soul. Neron suggests our man try out his “new normal” by heading Themyscira way and helping out his Titanic pals… and so, that’s exactly what he does.

It’s almost as though he hates to admit it, but Nightwing appears to be having a great deal of fun with his nigh-on Kryptonian powers. The speed, the strength… he sees all the good he could do if he were to make this arrangement permanent. But, for now, he’s got some friends to rescue! We next see him arriving on the shores of Themyscira, where the Titans have been downed by the trio of Grodd, Polaris, and the Grinning Man. Dick swoops down and nabs Gorilla Grodd, saving the good guys from his mental hoo-doo.

Upon his return, the Titans have rebounded… Starfire kayos Doctor Polaris, while Donna chokes out the Grinner. Raven checks in with Olivia to make sure she’s okay… and, thankfully she’s just fine. In a fun callback to ish #102, Dick reveals to his teammates that “he flies now”. Okay, Tom ya bastid… I laughed. I tell ya, I truly wasn’t expecting this to be funny. Like, maybe “dur-hur comicbook funny”… but not actually funny. Really good stuff.

Anyway, Raven reveals to the rest of the crew that this is, in fact, the real deal Dick. He speaks of his temporary arrangement with Neron, and how he’s got these powers for the next hour and change. One of the Titans asks him what he plans to DO with the next 60-120 minutes… but, we’ll have to come back to that.

First, let’s head downstairs to Hell… where Neron is being visited by the 100 foot tall… TRIGON THE TERRIBLE… who, believe it or not, does NOT announce that he is Raven’s dad. Huh, I guess that only goes one way then? Anyway, Trigon mocks Neron for having a problem with a little girl, and warns that it isn’t a good look for any’a the Lords of the Underworld. Neron is told to get his house in order… or else.

Back to Dick, who is spending his power-hour(s) doing super-things with Wally. Using his powers for good… in ways he’s never been able to before as a mere mortal. I gotta ask… Dick Grayson’s been around for nearly a century now… is this really the first time he’s gotten super powers? Can’t be, right? Oh well. After helping out the Flash, Dick zips over to Metropolis to chat up, and shake hands with, Superman. Clark thinks being super-powered is a pretty good look for Nightwing. Together they head into space so Dick can get a gander of the planet he’s been tasked with defending in it’s full glory. The scene gets… a little preachy… but, it’s point is well-taken. Their chat is interrupted by Oracle calling to let Nightwing know he is needed back on Themyscira… and so, off he goes.

Once there, he sees the Titans wrapped up in a battle with dozens of demons. Beast Boy, in the form of a unicorn, gallops over with Olivia on his back. He asks for Nightwing to zip the kid as far away from the ruckus as possible… and so, he does. Some miles away, while crossing some tundra… Dick’s power hour(s) comes to an end. With a snap of his fingers, Neron drops our hero (and Olivia) into the snow. Once on the ground, Neron makes him the offer again. He could go back to being super-powered… forever. All’s he’s gotta do, is hand over the li’l one’s soul.

Naturally, he ain’t feelin’ it. Olivia, seeing how much good a super-powered Nightwing can do for the world… suggests maybe he just signs her over. Instead of doing that, however, our man pulls out his escrima sticks and says: “Nightwing is Awesome”. Now… you might be asking: Da hale is that all about? Well, this is another callback to the Nite-Mite issue (#98). Nightwing’s Fifth-Dimensional Imp gave Dick a trigger phrase to give his sticks a bit of juice… that phrase was “Nightwing is Awesome”. Turns out, the sticks still had a little bit of zsusz left in’em… and, with it, our hero is able to zap Neron back to his true form… which is, more or less, a pile of Lovecraftian gore. With that, our baddie blips back to Hell.

We jump ahead to Themyscira, where Olivia is welcomed to live and train among the Amazons… so, the Titans won’t have to also be a daycare facility. Nightwing presents Olivia with a plaque, making her an honorary Titan. She decides on the codename “Nightbuster”, blending Nightwing with Blockbuster, largely because it’d annoy her father to have his name mashed with Nightwing’s. Raven reminds us that she has daddy issues as well (because we almost made it an entire issue without that), and promises Olivia that Neron won’t ever bother her again before she leaves with her new crew.

We wrap up back in Hell about an hour later. Raven is visiting with Neron… telling him he’s pretty much done. She kayos him before handing him over to Blaze. Blaze is grateful for the gift… but notices something a bit peculiar about our gal. It’s almost as though a piece of her… is missing! We’re told this will be continued… in Titans #1!

Ya know, when I started X-Lapsed back in 2020… I assumed I’d be starting my coverage with X-Men (vol.5) #1, which was the first of the Dawn of X line of books. I wanted to “hit the ground running”, so to speak. Then, while rifling through my dedicated “current-year X-Book shortbox”, I was reminded that the House of X and Power of X mini-series’s’s’s’s x-isted. Not gonna lie, I was kinda bummed out that I had this weird “prerequisite” I needed to devour and discuss before getting into the new status quo proper. Turned out that HoX/PoX was an absolute necessity in gaining a proper footing in the X-Men’s “new normal”… it was also (mostly) an absolute blast to read.

When I got the half-assed bug to do do a Lapsed-Type-Thing with the Titans, I automatically assumed I’d begin with the Dawn of DC Titans (vol.whatever) #1. This was around the time I was chatting with a buddy of mine about how much I missed the Titans… and how, with the Dawn of DC volume, I felt like I was finally ready to get hurt again…

Buddy informed me that, if I didn’t feel like waiting… the Dawn of DC issues of Nightwing were basically a Titans book in all but name. I suddenly found myself with those weird HoX/PoX pangs of bummed-outedness. Like I now had another prerequisite I needed to cover if I was actually serious about this project. What’s more… (several of) these books were out NOW… so, I couldn’t just daydream and fixate on some day in the future where I might write something… where I might script/perform something. To be a bit (more) precious (than usual) about it: The future… was now!

Well… turns out, this Titans-prereq… was an absolute blast to read. Not sure how necessary it will wind up being in the grand scheme of things… or if it’s actual “must-reading” for folks who were planning on jumping in with Titans (vol.whatever) #1… but, speaking only for me… I’m so very glad I forced myself to read this. I tell ya, it takes a lot for me to actually crack the cover on a comic anymore… but, I truly couldn’t be happier that I did!

You all know how I hate repeating myself (he repeats to himself), so I’ll spare you all several painful paragraphs of me attempting to define “heart”, “humor” and “real Titans stories”… just know that I definitely feel as though this arc HAD heart, WAS humorous, and FELT like a real Titans story.

While this was definitely a Titans story… it was with this final chapter that I felt like I was reminded that it isn’t a Titans book. This is Nightwing’s book, which I definitely don’t have any problems with… but, it was with this issue that I feel the Titans were kind of relegated to the background. Again — that’s not a complaint, just an observation. It just sort of reminded me that, if this “Titans-Lapsed” project continues, that this might be the last issue of Nightwing we cover for quite some time. Not sure how intertwined the titles will be from this point on! Also not sure why that struck me as such a surprise… especially when the Bat-Emblem (rather than the Titans “T”) is front and (off) center atop the cover!

Anyway, let’s get outta the self-indulgent weeds and discuss some of what actually happened in this here book, eh?

We get to see Nightwing make use of his temporary superpowers… which was neat. I like the idea that he only had a “power hour” (well, two), and had to decide how to best use his time. I appreciated the choice(s) he made… using those powers to both do good, and to take in a grand view of who and what he’s “doing the good” for.

While I felt the Superman scene started to lean into soapbox territory, I still feel it was well done… and, was pretty important in giving Dick perspective on the task laid before him. He and his will be stepping up and protecting the entire planet… and while I’m hoping this doesn’t devolve into something akin to Captain Nightwing and the Planeteers, I thought it was a pretty powerful (and necessary) scene.

Taking out Neron with his Nite-Mite trigger phrase was cute… especially with how embarrassed Dick was to say “Nightwing is Awesome” back in issue #98. Though, if you started reading this title with the first Dawn of DC-branded issue (#101), you wouldn’t know any’a that. I just so happened to read #98, mostly because I thought the cover was a hoot… not sure how many other new/lapsed readers did the same. Though, I certainly can’t fault a book for paying off a story thread from an earlier arc… that’s the kind of comics I personally dig. Sadly, the industry has long been in the business of training readers not feel the exact opposite.

Shuffling Olivia off to Themyscira was a good idea, in my opinion. While I liked the character, I was a little bit worried she’d wind up being the Titans latch-key kid. Like a Danny Chase or D.E.O. Kid du jour for the current generation. I’m glad that isn’t going to be the case. She’s off training with the Amazons, which keeps the door open for guest appearances, while not actually making her a “fixture”. Best of both worlds!

Overall… like I’ve been saying (over and over again), this was a very good arc… and a really good pre-req for this new volume of Titans. If you’re a Titans fan, or are simply Titans-curious, I’d recommend checking out this arc.

Next time out… we’ll actually discuss Titans (vol.whatever) #1.

2 thoughts on “Nightwing (v.4) #104 (2023)

  • So Dick was offered a deal with the devil and turned it down. I guess that makes him a better man than Peter Parker.
    The callbacks really work for me. They are like inside jokes that only fans who have seen what came before will get. Like a reward for sticking with a series.
    Seeing Dick with Superman-like powers makes me think of an old Super Friends episode where Supes, Bats, and WW had their powers stolen by Dr Frankenstein to make a new super-powered monster and Robin had to absorb what little power the big 3 had left to battle the monster. Robin/Nightwing flying around is surreal but cool.
    I’m kinda wanting to fing out where the Titans story goes from here. DC may actually get me to buy an actual comic book.

    • Ha! I never thought of it that way… Dick did what Peter couldn’t! And, just realized I used the words dick and peter in the same sentence… ahem

      I tell ya, the callback to the Nite-Mite issue really gave me the, for lack of a better term, “warm fuzzies”. It’s just so darn seldom we get callbacks to previous arcs anymore. Storytelling is so compartmentalized, reaching for this elusive “new reader”, who — for the most part — doesn’t even exist! I love that they paid off a bit of reader loyalty here with that callback!


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