REVIEW: Nightwing #37 (Flashing Back!)

The Mayor of Blüdhaven is dead, the city is in turmoil, all the chaos lies at the feet of one man, the Judge. In his effort to end gambling and take over the city he has killed over 30 people, including Mayor Madrigal. Only one man opposes him, Nightwing!

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Title: Nightwing #37 (The Untouchable pt. 3)
Writer: Sam Humphries
Art: Klaus Janson (flashbacks) Jamal Campbell (present day)
Colors: Alex Sinclair (flashback) Jamal Campbell (present)
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez
Publisher: DC Comics

What You Need to Know:

The Judge is loose in Blüdhaven, having some strange power of coercion over anyone he gives a gold poker chip, often persuading them to kill someone, or themselves! He has been cutting a swath of victims across the city with no obvious pattern besides general disruption. Now that he has killed the Mayor and his staff the city is leaderless and ripe for trouble!

What You’ll Find Out:

We open on the Lucky Lighthouse Casino, a crowd is telling the owner that the casino is about to go out of business due to the federal government shutting down legal gambling in Blüdhaven due to the insane levels of corruption exposed by Mayor Madrigal before he shot himself. She stops them and dismisses them all, she has a visitor. Nightwing is outside Lucy’s window, he tells her the Judge is back, and she puts 2 and 2 together and figures out he’s resumed his vendetta against legalized gambling,

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We flashback to the first time they met the judge, Dick’s first time in Blüdhaven, with Batman, as Robin! He and Batman had been investigating a string of murders, peculiar because the murderer had no prior records and generally seemed shocked and upset by their actions (the judges MO is to talk people into doing his dirty work) The latest suspect only had a gold poker chip and a parking ticket from the Old Baily Church on him, a clue!

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Robin talks about that era, he was in the suit less than a month, and desperate to prove Batman hadn’t made a mistake in bringing him in. (Read the stellar Robin Year One by Chuck Dixon for some insight into this era) His goal was to bring the Judge to himself! Only trouble is it isn’t the Judge in the Church, it’s King Sturgeon!

Sturgeon overpowers Robin easily and starts to fight Batman, unfortunately, 132 forms of martial arts don’t help much versus an 11-foot tall shark man, and he starts to lose before Robin can recover, suddenly a statue drops on his head, Baby Ruthless (Lucy) is on the scene!

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Batman talks to Lucy about the Judge and she tells him what he already knows, The Judge is using normal people to destroy the gambling and governmental infrastructure in Blüdhaven. For reasons unknown he is trying to kill Blüdhaven’s gambling industry, every killing spree has been used to cover up one specific murder of someone important to the casinos.

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They search King Sturgeon for any info and find a note on him with a ship name and a harbor code, it leads them to the Santo Nuevo, which has been illegally dumping nuclear waste (seriously, why do people even live in Blüdhaven?)

What will they find? Who will the Judge target next? Find out for yourself! Pick up a copy of Nightwing #37 at your local comic book store today! The end of this issue is KILLER (literally)

What Just Happened?

Plot:

Overall I’m really enjoying the story, I like the history building aspect of it, and glad someone other than Batman is getting the “set just after year one” approach. The Judge is making for a very interesting bad guy, I sense a “Robin must kill Batman!” or vice versa coming up.

I do wish they would explain the Judge’s abilities a little better, I can’t figure out if he’s mind controlling people, or the chip lowers their inhibitions or what? It is lending the story a bit of intrigue in a John Carpenter’s the Thing kind of way, it could be ANYONE! Detective Svboda genuinely surprised me 2 issues back when she shot our favorite vigilante. The end of this issue is a prime example.

Lucy seems like an interesting addition into Grayson canon, especially now that Shawn Tsang is gone (for now) I wouldn’t be surprised if they went the love interest route, which is why she’ll probably try to kill Dick instead. It is interesting they chose to add a new character rather than retroactively change an existing one, maybe DC is finally listening to all my letters!

I do have one minor nitpick in the portrayal of Batman, he is really open, and hardly at all the dark closed xenophobic hero we’re used to, he just immediately and openly accepts Lucy, for comparison Spoiler literally had to die and come back to get that kind of regard(In Batman: War Games and Robin V2 170-175 respectively) and even then begrudgingly.

Art:

I’m almost never a fan of the two artist approach, but Klaus Janson on the flashback pages effectively feels like it emulates an older style that works for a flashback, and is a good counterpoint to Jamal Campbell’s sleek and fluid art in the present day sections, although what happened to Bernard Chang? I’m liking Campbell more honestly, but consistency in creative teams is nice, and DC has been restaffing a ton of books lately, trying to make things work and switching up focuses, I can’t say I hate it completely, but I do like consistency, not a complaint, just an observation, the art in this issue is amazing in the present day sections, and pretty decent in the flashbacks, Janson has a couple of iffy panels, but they don’t distract from the book whatsoever.

Rating: 8.5/10


Final Thought:


Man, I am loving this arc! The Judge is cool and it’s more of a mystery than a superhero story, I don’t think there’s been a ton of action, but I’ve hardly noticed super fun arc. I think this arc will be remembered as a part of Robin and Nightwing canon for some time. See you next issue!


 

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