“Rise Of The Underworld” – Part Four, and “Night At The Circus” – Part Four
Writers: Tom Taylor, C.S. Pacat
Artists: Travis Moore, Daniel Hor, Jonas Trindade
Color Artist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Review by Steve J. Ray
Look, up in the sky! Is it a bat? Is it a jet? No, it’s Superwing! Nightwing #104 is a dream come true, for so many reasons!
Dick Grayson is one of the greatest heroes in comics, alongside his mentor and surrogate father for one simple reason, neither of them has superpowers. These men stand side by side with beings of incredible might, fight against insurmountable odds, fall, get injured, bleed, and risk their lives. They’re human beings, fighting side by side with gods.
Some would argue that Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, and Oliver Queen aren’t superheroes at all, but the Cambridge dictionary states:
A superhero is also a person whose actions or achievements are far greater than what people expect.
Personally I count nurses, the armed forces, firefighters, the police, educators, and all the incredible people who go above and beyond, frequently with little to no recognition and inadequate pay, as superheroes. So, powers or not, the three aforementioned gentlemen are definitely superheroes as far as I’m concerned.
Which leads us to this amazing comic. Readers may remember that Neron granted Nightwing superhuman abilities in return for Olivia Desmond’s soul, at the end of the previous issue. Dick Grayson is awesome (we’ve heard that before, and will again) without powers, so you can only imagine how much more so he becomes with them. The real question is, do they make him more of a hero?
I’m one of the few who really enjoyed the much-maligned Ric Grayson era (Nightwing #50-#75), why? Here was a man who had no memory of being a superhero, of being trained by Batman or being leader of the Titans. Did he have to protect the innocent, fight crime, and help lead a new team of Nightwings? No… but he did it anyway. This run of stories proved what many fans have known about the character all along. Dick Grayson was born to be a hero; in or out of the shadow of the bat, with or without his tragic past.
Yes, in this issue we see Dick Grayson with superpowers, and it’s cool as all get out… but he doesn’t need them, never has, and never will. This man’s a hero to the core.
Tom Taylor, Travis Moore, Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott deliver a Nightwing tale for the ages in this issue. We see what might have been, and I love them for it. What’s arguably more important is that it’s made my admiration for Dick Grayson as as a character grow, too. That’s something I didn’t even believe was possible. The writing art, colors and letters in Nightwing #104 are exceptional, but at this point who would expect anything less?
Brilliantly, we also see Olivia Desmond take on her superhero name, and the creative team ends the issue with a direct link to Titans #1 (buy this comic!). What more could any fan ask for?
The final chapter of C.S Pacat’s wonderful Nightwing/Jon Kent team-up also ends in this issue, and it’s superb, too. It’s great that, once again, this short story enhances the message of the preceding tale. Here is the vintage, classic, detective, acrobat Nightwing. Mentor, leader, and hero. We see all of Dick Grayson’s real innate abilities as he helps the new Superman grow, learn and progress. I have no doubt that Jon Kent will become as great a hero and inspiration as his father, just as Nightwing learned and was inspired by both the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
The one (extremely minor) gripe I have about this issue is that the finale of “Night At The Circus” wasn’t drawn by the same art team as the rest of the story. However, Daniel Hor and Jonas Trindade did a great job, and Adriano’s colors and Wes’ letters helped make the transition flow, as smooth as silk.
Nightwing #104 is fantastic. I love superheroes, whether they have powers or not. If the Titans and the Justice League see Nightwing as a leader and role model, who are we to disagree? Once again, anyone who isn’t reading this title is seriously missing out.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment