The next installment of Dick Grayson’s new pirate adventure is just over the horizon! Now that Nightwing and Captain Blüd have made an alliance, they set sail to confront her evil half-brother. Yet, although billed as a swashbuckling epic, Nightwing is closer to Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause version of piracy. Let’s take a look.
Can’t Trust Me Mateys
Previously, Dick Grayson’s ex-girlfriend Bea exposes her true identity as a member of The Crew of The Crossed Keys. Before she can help Grayson with his inquiry into their vault, she petitions his assistance in securing leadership of the group. Of course, because he feels guilty for breaking up with her, Nightwing agrees to play pirate for a few days. With him onboard, they quickly learn that certain members of the crew prefer the true Blüd heir instead of Bea. As a result, they must beware potential assassinations or mutiny from any one of the sailors among them. Ironically, the dire situation forces Nightwing into becoming her bodyguard for the duration of the journey.
Consequently, It isn’t long before some of the loyalists try to kill the captain in her sleep. After stopping the sneak in another series staple time lapse chase, Nightwing interrogates them to learn what they already suspected. Bea’s half-brother is clearly the favorite among the Crew of The Crossed Keys and they will easily betray her for Dirk Blüd, the true heir. It isn’t until the heroic Bea and Nightwing refuse to harm or punish the traitor that I understand why no one likes her. In a nutshell, it seems like Bea is comfortable “playing pirate” rather than truly enforcing it. While I respect upholding a code, none of the crew respect how soft it makes them look. After so many spicy threats by the Quartermaster, unfortunately Bea’s methods don’t live up to the expectation.
Furthermore, things get far more damning as they near their island destination. Surprisingly, the island in question turns out to be a hidden undersea city. Aesthetically, it is brighter and more commercially appealing than I expected. Even if Taylor makes self-aware jokes about it, mall-like shops and stores populate their “secret pirate hideout.” In fact, Tom Taylor’s Revolutionaries seen in his run of Suicide Squad just so happen to be shopping there in a cameo. I can’t expect too much out of a pirate themed bank, but a secret island resort with coffee shops makes me take them even less seriously. Not even the humble brag of having replicas of Ocean Master and Black Manta’s helmets save them from well earned ridicule. I can’t think of a single impressive thing they’ve done.
Moreover, Bea still wants to convince her ex-boyfriend that she has power and respect in this world. During a tense argument with Grayson, she insinuates that his campaign in Blüdhaven has only prospered with her involvement behind the scenes. Then, to maintain appearances, Bea lets her assistants refer to an admittedly sensually dressed Nightwing as simply her “consort.” However, playing at power and real respect looks quite different. So, while Bea is so busy trying to make it look like she’s in charge, Dirk makes real moves toward it. Morally, readers should easily hate his smug, power hungry behavior, but Dirk’s brutality is shockingly refreshing. Not only is Dirk not pretending to be a pirate, but he’s also supposedly behind Zucco and Heartless killing the Quartermaster in the first place!
- You’ve been waiting for a real pirate tale to begin.
- Enjoying Tom Taylor’s take on Nightwing.
- You can’t get enough of Stephen Byrne’s artwork.
In my opinion, I can’t blame anyone for double crossing Bea. Under her and her father’s watch, the entire organization is unquestionably a complete joke. Honestly, Tom Taylor has done an atrocious job of endearing readers to this strangely commercially viable pirate crew. I can’t think of a single reason Quartermaster and this group should have ever thought to justify threatening anyone. Even the menacing new villain isn’t enough to garner any real challenge out of Nightwing. Overall, while I very much enjoy Stephen Byrne’s illustrations and the idea of the group, The Crew of The Crossed Keys are staggeringly underwhelming pirates. At this point, I just want Nightwing to get his possessions from the vault, and let Dirk revitalize the group for evil if there is a chance it will help.
P.S. I’m saving my thoughts on the ending twist for the following issue.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review