Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nightwing #39 Review

Smoke and Mirrors

Written by: Sam Humphries
Art by: Phil Jimenez, Jamal Campbell, Matt Santorelli, Alex Sinclair and Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 21, 2018

I haven't been too keen on this Nightwing run since Sam Humphries jumped onboard.  I think he does a decent job getting Dick's voice down, but this whole Judge story has been a huge miss for me.  It just keeps stumbling on and without knowing the Judge's actual powers (are they tech, magic, something else???), I can't get a full grip on what's going on here.  Plus, Humphries sets up one of the most nonsensical versions of wishes vs monkey paws I have ever read or seen.  They aren't clever or surprising and again, without knowing how he is making it all happen, I'm left wondering why these people are going through with situations where the end result is very clear and very present danger!  Maybe we will find out in this issue, but saying that for the fifth time just points out the bigger problem we are facing.  Well, do we find out more?  Let's see...

The issue opens with the Judge singing a song to Nightwing who is chained to a chair and slowly being overtaken by the tide.  We get the explanation of where they are and it's a bit of social justice rhetoric about an evil contractor who cut corners "back in the day" and never came to justice.  Yep, this book has come down to standing against an evil contractor!  It's all a setup to give us what we've been waiting for...Dick Grayson, The College Years!

We jump in quick and get the second time Dick tangled with the Judge.  There is an (almost) innocent girl who ends up a murderer, saltwater footprints, research that is a bit too on the nose as the story progresses and the classic v-neck Nightwing costume.  It all led Dick to the Judge and another battle.  However, before that, we do get Dick trying to figure out the Judge's powers.  I've been waiting all this time and what we get is, "hypnotism, mind control, I don't know--".  Oh goodie!

What follows is a deja vu chase scene except for this time, the Judge just disappeared instead of riding away in a motorboat.  After hanging out in the Justice Tree and talking to Kori, we go back to the present for a little explanation and more nonsense.

As water fills the house that Nightwing is trapped in, the Judge drops some knowledge on Dick and the reader...he is the First Judge of Bludhaven!  I put an exclamation point there, but really, this didn't feel as big as I think it was supposed to.  We get the background of how things came to be and it's a tale of corruption and lack of justice, but then it falls apart.  The Judge was thrown into the ocean after not letting a rich, but guilty man walk free and then the sea embraced him (?) and he was transformed (?).  WHAT????  You can't just explain this off in two sentences!!!  BULLSHIT!  I have been confused with what the Judge was and can do and that's all we get????

It gets even more infuriating as we go through centuries of seeing corruption and returning to the sea (what the hell does that even mean???) until the Judge ended up at St. Jude's Monastery and sewed his eyes shut.  Just to piss me off more, the Judge keeps mentioning to Nightwing how the sea changed him without really telling us anything at all!  The issue ends with a cool looking Houdini  cliffhanger, but I really could care less about this story anymore.

Yea, it's probably clear by now that I hated this issue and it all comes down to the Judge.  How does Sam Humphries think he can get away with such non-details in a story full of guesses, suggestions and flat out nothingness.  We are five issues in and we may have an origin for the villain (finally, but with little impact), but nothing about how he is corrupting people and that is the main part of the story!  Just the fact that he is a colonial judge who seems to use poker chips to control people makes no sense and everything I just said is me guessing about what is happening.  Without anything concrete, the reader is left wondering and filling in the blanks and that is an epic fail here.  Until I get some real answers, I can't recommend this story to anyone.

I did like the art a whole lot and both Phil Jimenez and Jamal Campbell kick total ass in this issue but even that can't calm my angry heart!

Bits and Pieces:

This story is a complete mess and without more (important) information about how the Judge is controlling people, I can't get behind it.  The art is really good here, but after five issues of waiting for more explanation, I think I've tapped out.


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