Tad Ryerstad is quite obviously a product of a town like Blüdhaven. Abandoned as a child, Tad was absorbed into the city's foster care system. His name Tad was derived from his diminutive size - tadpole - and his last name from a popular beer brand. Tossed from one foster home to another, he finally ran away to live on the streets, brought up on a diet of paperbacks and comic books.
Tad idolized John Law, a former crime fighter named Tarantula. Tad decided to emulate him, determined to better Blüdhaven's manifold wrongs. He took to the streets as the vigilante Nite-Wing - creating the name from an open all Nite restaurant serving hot Buffalo wings.
Unfortunately, on his first night out, he ran into a gang that shot him repeatedly. Rushed to an emergency room, Nightwing spent the whole night defending him from Blockbuster's men, who thought it was Nightwing who was in the hospital. Tad was released from the hospital, and went back to take revenge on the gang who put him there, killing them.
Tad’s rampage continued, killing men working for Blockbuster, even Ricky Noone, one of his major capos. One night, he was cornered by Dudley Soames, the former police inspector turned psychopath, calling himself Torque. He finally met Nightwing here. The two escaped Torque, and Nightwing agreed to train Tad, not realizing his violent nature.
Tad cornered Blüdhaven’s corrupt Police Chief Redhorn, and got all the files he had pertaining to Blockbuster. Presenting them to Nightwing, the two began to attack Blockbuster’s powerbase. They were captured and separated. When Cisco Blaine, an undercover FBI agent, came to free Tad, Tad beat him to death. Upon discovering that he wasn’t a bad guy, but really a cop, Tad fled. Nightwing eventually tracked him down, and he was imprisoned in Lockhaven Penitentiary.
When Torque was captured by Nightwing, he was made Tad’s cellmate. Torque had a plan to escape, and he made Tad part of it. They drugged the food of Aaron Hellzinger, the prison guard who was the reformed villain Amygdala, and when he went berserk, the two escaped. Tad killed Soames after his escape, and was implicated in the murder of Chief Redhorn. However, Tad was innocent of that crime, set up by Blockbuster and the new Tarantula, and he contacted Nightwing to help clear himself. Tad was arrested again, along with Tarantula, and resides again in Lockhaven, serving his time for the murders of Cisco Blaine and Torque.
In Nightwing #51, "Tad's Story" reveals the detailed history of Tad, but contradicts the previous claim of him being abandoned. Instead, the story shows both of his parents alive; his father Randy as an abusive alcoholic and his mother perpetually using the phone and smoking. Due to his lack of parental involvement, Tad begins to read comic books as a means of escapist fantasy.
Soon, he begins to resent his father, who earns money through the sale of stolen goods. Believing firmly in the world of comic books, Tad performs an act he believes to be heroic: the framing of his father. Tad contacts his father's crack-dealer of an employer and accuses his father of being a snitch. As a result, his father is murdered and his mother sent to jail.
After being sent to live with foster parents, he runs away and begins to live on his own. Due to his lack of a job, he is usually a vagrant, and can afford to feed himself only through stealing from criminals.
Following his capture at the hands of Nightwing and subsequent arrest for the murder of Cisco Blaine, he is revealed to have been left on a Blüdhaven bus on Christmas Eve.
Skills and Weapons
Nite-Wing has no super human powers. His tactics are as brutal as his brand of justice, which tends towards the medieval. Often he carries many billiard balls taped to his back. Tad's weapon of choice is a three-foot steel baton he found in a junkyard.