Nightwing #41 – Sam Humphries, Writer; Bernard Chang, Jamal Campbell, Artists; Marcelo Maiolo, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Hopeful Ending
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Sam Humphries’ short run on Nightwing comes to a close in Nightwing #41, as Nightwing and the Judge face off one last time. The issue opens with a framing segment as Guppy – now in prison for the murder/mercy killing of his father – meets with Nightwing, who hasn’t given up on him. However, Guppy seems to be thriving in prison, having finally lived up to his father’s legacy as a powerful villain. The story then flashes back twenty-four hours to reveal how the battle with the Judge turned out. Nightwing channels his inner John McClane and rescues the Judge’s latest victim from an exploding casino, hitches a ride from a hanging crane, and finally crashes into a neighboring apartment building and interrupts a tryst. This is classic action comics at its finest – there’s a bit of a suspension of disbelief required, but damn if it isn’t fun.
I can’t say I’m quite as sold on the Judge himself in the second half of the issue. The character has a bit of inconsistency, as his origins as a colonial judge and his obsession with punishing the guilty doesn’t really square with his casual, almost mocking manner. He comes off more like a sleazy casino magnate himself than a strict time-displaced jurist. He seems to operate on some sort of odd cycle, needing to return to the depths of Bludhaven harbor only to return when needed. He offers Nightwing a way out of their endless battle by letting him go into hibernation again, but Nightwing refuses and gets some help from Detective Svoboda in the process. The Judge made for a dramatic villain, but I’m not sure he fully clicks as a character. Humphries’ take on Nightwing was strong all around, and there are quite a few elements here that I’m hoping Percy picks up on in May, especially Baby Ruthless and Dick’s new job.
Corrina: The end of this story is indeed lovely, with Nightwing hopeful, as he ever is, but I’m not sold on the journey. I’ve loved parts of Humphries arc, particularly the flashbacks to Dick as Robin, which we have not seen in a long, long time, but I always had problems with the Judge’s shifting motivations.
I could have overlooked the flaws in the villain, though, but I can’t overlook the fact that this arc saddled Dick down with guilt that I didn’t buy. Yes, of course, Dick felt guilty about the Judge escaping all those years ago, but to hold himself responsible for 32 murders never worked for me. Dick is centered enough to realize that the person responsible for the deaths is the Judge. He may well feel he needs to be better–that makes sense–but this intense guilt that led him into reckless behavior didn’t fit his character.
What did fit were the daredevil stunts Humphries used in his arc, like the motorcycle jump from the high rise window this issue, a sequence where Chang excelled.. There was also the death trap escape last issue, and several other great action moments that showcased that, yes, Nightwing was once a former circus star who loves his acrobatics.
Having not been a fan of Percy’s Green Arrow, I’m not looking forward to what comes next in Nightwing.
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Disclaimer: DC received this comic for review purposes.