Writer: Sam Humphries / Artist: Klaus Janson, Jamal Campbell / DC Comics
Something very interesting happens in Nightwing #37. In a flashback episode-equivalent of an issue, Humphries explores the failures that Dick Grayson faced as the Boy Wonder. It’s not entirely new territory, but I believe in this issue Humphries finds his stride and is able to confidently compose a pensive Nightwing reflecting on his past with the type of clarity that only time can give a person. It’s in these quiet moments that we ultimately get the deeply personal and somber tone that the earlier issues in the arc tried to achieve. Finally getting a chance to see the previously alluded to events contextualizes Nightwing’s behavior and retroactively makes the previous issues better. When The Untouchable gets collected, the pacing will be phenomenal.
I adore the utilization of two different artists depicting the present and the past. Campbell’s sleek noir of the present contrasts perfectly with Janson’s more traditionally animated heroics. They capture the times in which the characters exist. Janson’s flashbacks revel in the camp of classic superheroes, and Campbell’s present reflects the darker reality that has happened. And Humphries connects the two, weaving a solid through-line that further fleshes out the transformation of Robin to Nightwing, and adds dimension to Grayson’s persona that I’ve wanted to see fully realized. The way Humphries slow-burns ideas of grief and imposter’s syndrome into the narrative gets to the core of a different side of Dick Grayson and I appreciate the added depth.
My enduring, continual skepticism of the Judge’s efficacy as a villain aside, this issue begins paying out some of the gambles the earlier issues took. Nightwing is given the chance to the take entire stage, making full use of it. I’m excited to see where this goes, if only to see more of Dick Grayson’s past.