Nightwing #36 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Bernard Chang, Artist; Marcelo Maiolo, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Goes Dark Fast
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Nightwing #36, the second issue of Sam Humphries’ Nightwing run drives home what I was feeling in the first issue – this is the closest thing we’ll ever get to a DC version of Daredevil. The scrappy, vulnerable hero up against a tidal wave of corruption and evil, fighting his way through and barely surviving. While Seeley’s Bludhaven felt like a twisted Gotham take on Las Vegas, Humphries’ genuinely feels like the gritty hellhole of crime it’s meant to be. When we last left Dick last issue, he had been shot by his supposed ally, under the control of the mysterious Judge. The bullet wound doesn’t just go away or get swept under the rug, either – Humphries actually does some serious work with depicting Dick fighting while injured and racing the clock to cover it up before he’s found out by his clients at his new job.
Bernard Chang, who’s been on quite a few DC books, does some of his best work on this issue.
Nightwing actually takes a backseat in some ways, as his opening escape gives way to spotlights for two new characters. Guppy is somehow the most interesting new character in some time – this pathetic, wannabe criminal who’s essentially set apart from society due to being a mutant. He’s basically what Killer Croc would be if he had no actual combat skills. I’m curious whether he’s going to wind up being an ally for Nightwing – or if we’re going to see him evolve into something more dangerous. And then there’s the Judge, who gets the best scenes of the issue as he takes his mental games to the next level, terrorizing the mayor of Bludhaven into suicide and throwing the city into chaos. Bludhaven is a corrupt city, but most of the corruption has been under the surface. The Judge is going to bring it all to the fore, and that’s a terrifying prospect.
Corrina: I’m not sure how much corruption was under the surface in Bludhaven, with Blockbuster running a casino, the corrupt police, and Dick having to team-up with some one-time villains to beat Raptor and Pigeon, but it’s certainly a grittier Bludhaven in practice than in Seeley’s run, which concentrated on the surface glitz presented to tourists. Chang, whose work made average stories on Batman Beyond shine, is terrific here, showing the facial expression of people at their lowest point, while at the same time showing action, such as the sequence with Dick falling, and allowing the reader hit the ground with our hero.
The pacing is fast and the Judge is a good vehicle to show what’s beneath the surface of each character in Bludhaven. The problem is that while he’s good at manipulating others, the Judge is a blank slate himself. Perhaps he’s meant to be that way, to be the Joker to Dick’s Nightwing, but I love complex villains and while seeing the Judge talk and manipulate others into evil acts is interesting, it reveals little about the Judge himself. Perhaps that’s coming.
Note: While I appreciate Dick not wanting to blow his personal training sessions, that gunshot wound is in the shoulder, which could mean a major injury, perhaps even to an artery. I normally shrug such things off in superhero comics but given this issue makes a point of how serious the injury is, I started thinking about it.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.