Bludhaven is in crisis. The casinos are out of operation, and the people are panicking. Among the troubled casino owners is Lucy Weatherton, who is a woman Dick Grayson has crimefighting history with. She used to be Baby Ruthless, and she teamed up with Batman and Robin when the two tracked down the Judge to Bludhaven years ago. We get a lengthy flashback to that night and what went down.
With Nightwing #37, we finally get some context for the Judge and Dick’s animosity towards the character. We don’t yet have the full story; Nightwing mentions another encounter later in his career. However, this gives some frame of reference for the rivalry. This is some good fleshing out, but there still feels like there are missing pieces of the puzzle which will hopefully be revealed.
It also gives us some understanding of Dick’s early days as Robin and his fears. This ends up connecting to his feelings about the Judge, and it allows for a sweet moment between Robin and Batman.
Baby Ruthless is a cool character too. She’s brash but level-headed, and she has a cool aesthetic that is oddly reminiscent of Sportsmaster but more colorful.
Sam Humphries manages to recreate some of the classic dialogue without overdoing it and bringing back the cheesiness.
The Judge is continuing to shape up into an intriguing rogue for Nightwing. Hopefully this trend will continue, and we’ll get a solid new baddie out it.
While this flashback issue largely worked, there are a couple of noticeable flaws with the presentation and timing. Firstly, this seems like something that should have happened earlier on in this “The Untouchable” arc or played out as a prologue to it. Secondly, this arc is starting to feel a little long already, and it’s up to the rest of this story to justify the length.
Klaus Janson is a great choice for the flashback sequences. His grit, contrasted by the sleekness of the present art by Jamal Campbell, adds to the feeling that we are gazing back into a memory. Plus, he gives the action sequences some extra impact and catharsis in their presentation. Campbell’s present line art and color art fits Nightwing quite well with its own sleek texturing and flowing movements. Alex Sinclair gives the flashback moments an extra bit of color reminiscent of classic comics.
While I still have some hang-ups about this new arc, Humphries is slowly rewarding my faith in his ability to right Nightwing with #37. It has a lot of fun and a lot heart, and he begins to dive into Dick Grayson’s psyche a bit more. Janson, Campbell, and Sinclair bring some talent to the aesthetics, and I can recommend the overall product. Check it out.
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