Review: Nightwing # 38

NIGHTWING #38 / Written by Sam Humphries / Art by Bernard Chang / Colors by Marcelo Maiolo / Letters by Carlos M. Mangual / Published by DC Comics / Released: February 7, 2018

Nightwing #38 is the third chapter in Sam Humphries’ “The Untouchable” arc. Previously on the pages of Nightwing we followed Dick Grayson’s past with the Blüdhaven villain, The Judge. Dick meets up with an old vigilante friend and recollects on his failure as Robin to catch the Judge. Baby Ruthless, Batman, and Robin end up on a wild goose chase following the Judge around Blüdhaven. The trio are tracking The Judge in the hijacking of a cargo boat. As a fight ensues Robin chases after the Judge only to push him off the boat and lose him on a dingy.

We return to Nightwing hunting down King Sturgeon after learning he may hold answers. Dick then finds Guppy, King Sturgeon’s son, sitting alone in the dark crying over a bottle of beer. Dick then realizes he is too late and The Judge has already beaten him. Guppy then reveals he made a deal with The Judge earlier in the evening.

Nightwing then heads toward Hercules Casino to face The Judge head-on but is stopped while trying to climb the building. Dick then sneaks into the casino as…a stripper. The issue’s panels, while entertaining, are largely groan-inducing. We leave with Dick trying to sneak up on The Judge…only to be caught.

Like many people, I enjoy making Dick Grayson “ass” jokes but I never expected the trope to be taken so literally. Yet despite Dick Grayson living in “Butthaven” he doesn’t act like Dick Grayson. The stripper storyline felt predicatble and cheesy and could have possibly worked if Dick Grayson had his normal personality. This version of Nightwing lacks his usual quips, jokes, puns, and trash talk. I don’t think I laughed once in this issue. While Nightwing isn’t considered a comedy book some comedy relief is expected.

This villain has a lot of potential but so far I do not feel that it has been met. His motive and powers still remain mostly unclear. In addition, while we know he is linked to Robin’s past we don’t know why or how. The Judge seems like a Black Mask and the Purple Man from Jessica Jones cross-over that got heavily watered down in the storyboards.

Even worse: despite following a Rebirth title Dick seems to forget the previous work of the title. He has none of the character growth, references none of the previous events, and seems to live in his own continuity. In this issue as well as the previous one, Dick Grayson alludes to being Nightwing in Blüdhaven prior to the events of Rebirth which, according to, Rebirth is not possible.

There were a few redeeming things for me about this issue. While some of the panels felt cheesy the art itself on this book is solid. In addition, the color palette used throughout this issue was beautiful and very fitting for the scenes. The neon pinks and blues fit the casino setting very well.  I also loved Guppy. Despite being a shark monster man his writing is wildly endearing. Guppy is relatable and a funny addition that I think a quippy Dick Grayson would work well with. I hope to see more of the character in the future but I worry with his role in this issue we will not.

I am willing to give this creative team until the end of the arc since they’re new, but overall I don’t feel like they have a grasp on the character.

Verdict: 2 out 5 casino gold coins.

In addition to writing and tweeting into the void, Elizabeth Garcia enjoys applying ethical and political theory to modern comics while wearing leggings and drinking wine with her cat on her beat-up couch.

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