Review – Nightwing #37: Robin Flashbacks

Comic Books DC This Week
Nightwing #37 variant cover
Through the air with the greatest of ease…copyright DC Comics

Nightwing #37 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Klaus Janson, Jamal Campell, Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Enter Baby Ruthless


Ray: Sam Humphries delivers one of his best issues yet with Nightwing #37, as we learn the backstory of Nightwing’s battle with the Judge, and a guest artist comes on board to tell a story from the beginning of his career as Robin. Jamal Campbell does the framing segment, as Nightwing – seeking an edge on the judge – meets up with a casino boss who’s had her business shut down thanks to the killing of the Mayor. Turns out she and Dick are old friends, and they faced off against the Judge together. Then it’s Klaus Janson‘s turn to take over art – Janson is a legendary inker, but seeing his art is a rare treat. The first showdown with the Judge took place when Dick had just put on the Robin suit for the first time, and his partnership with Batman was still tentative. But desperate to prove himself, he charges into a battle with the dangerous psychic villain and nearly puts them both in danger.

As for that casino boss? Well, turns out she used to be a local Bludhaven vigilante named Baby Ruthless, and let me tell you, this character is great. She’s exactly the kind of local, self-made superhero I love to see, and a new character of color in Gotham is always welcome. The Sturgeon, the father of the Guppy, makes an appearance as a hapless mook, while the Judge is lurking in the background manipulating people as always. But where this segment really shines is in the way it depicts Robin’s state of mind. This is a kid who’s lost everything only months ago, and now he feels like he has to pass a test. Seeing a rare supportive Batman made me very happy, and makes me think Humphries continues to have some of the best takes on DC heroes around at the moment. But lest we forget, there is a psychic sadist playing games with Bludhaven, and the issue ends on a harsh note. This run is really picking up steam.

Nightwing #37, page 4
Batman and the original Robin. Image copyright DC Comics

Corrina: I’m always up for more stories featuring Batman and Dick Grayson as Robin. I tend to think of those as old hat but, in reality, we have seen little of this team since they were together in the 1970s–early 1980s. Since then, there has been far more of Batman working with Tim Drake or Damian Wayne or even Jason Todd–though, in Todd’s case, it’s more a matter of establishing a relationship.

I wish Humphries had started his arc with what happens in this issue. I realize flashbacks are all the rage and filling in backstory via flashback is even more all the rage, but sometimes a story makes a better impact when told linearly. Two issues ago, I was frustrated at why Dick was so upset at the Judge’s appearance and, the last issue, I was frustrated at the Judge’s motivations. I had answers to both those questions this issue but I almost gave up on the story before this issue. Sometimes, linear storytelling is the way to go.

The other big development here is Baby Ruthless, now out of costume. Love the character concept, HATE THE COSTUME.

She’s non-powered, people. Why is she exposing her midriff and wearing a corset? Meanwhile, Robin is not allowed his original pixie boots and bare legs because that’s silly but this woman has to walk around in a corset and baring her midriff even though she fights physical battles with a baseball bat. No, no, no, and hell, no. I can’t imagine any man in this position being given this costume. It fetishes the character and that’s completely unnecessary. I did like her civilian clothes, however.

Do better on this front, creative team.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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