Nightwing #35 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Bernard Chang, Artist; Marcelo Maiolo, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Sam Humphries wastes no time putting his own spin on Dick Grayson’s adventures. Although he keeps the setting of Bludhaven the same, the title has shed elements such as Shawn and her band of merry ex-villains, criminal mastermind Roland Desmond, and the deceased Raptor. The only major holdover is Detective Svoboda, now Dick’s only non-corrupt contact into the Bludhaven PD. For those familiar with Marvel comics, the parallels to Daredevil are unmistakable in a lot of ways (including an image where Dick decompresses after a hard night of fighting by crawling into a tub filled with ice). Those parallels are never stronger than when it comes to the new villain, The Judge. A twisted sadist with the ability to influence people’s behavior, he seems to enjoy forcing people to act out their darkest desires, such as when an elderly woman on a casino vacation who’s never hurt a single person suddenly goes mad and attacks the poker dealer.
The issue has a very good balance of the realistic and the absurd – such as the fact that the only witness to the woman’s attack is a z-list criminal who happens to be a fish-mutant with the name “The Guppy”. This cowardly hustler, the son of a Q-list supervillain, is already one of my favorite new characters in a while. Humphries packs a lot more humor into this series than Seeley tended to, starting with Dick’s new job as a Crossfit instructor. Welcome to the world of customer service, Dick Grayson, hope you survive the experience. There’s quite a bit of darkness, though, as it seems Dick has some history with the Judge – history that may have been repressed somehow. Given how the Judge’s powers are psychologically based, that’s ominous. The issue ends with a good cliffhanger that hints just how far the Judge’s tentacles go, and it’s overall a strong, solid start to a promising new run.
Corrina: I have one thing to say about Dick’s new career in cross-fit training: the man should have a line out the door. Hello, this is the sexiest man in comics. In any case, the two clients who do take Dick’s first lesson are interesting enough, and I have to wonder if they’re throwaway characters or will be important to the plot later. Overall, I guess Dick is being careful in accepting his clientele, trying to fit a specific niche rather than a just become a general personal trainer, but if he was the latter, his classes would be full.
While I liked this beginning, I will miss the supporting cast from Seeley’s run and hold out some hope that they’ll show up later, as working with ex-villains seemed absolutely in-character for someone who is willing to give people second and even third chances. I liked Blockbuster as a villain because he was Dick’s mirror: a man who wanted to protect but found the ends justify the means.
This new villain, the Judge, is a different sort, however, and seems to be poised to delve deep into Dick’s psyche to find out what he really wants. The Judge’s power set is going to be difficult to overcome but, as yet, I’m not sure he resonates as a villain for our hero, given how Dick is basically doing what he wants in the first place. We’ll see.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.