From the remarkable art depicting the corruption of Blüdhaven to the intriguing storyline full of mystery and horror, NIGHTWING #38 will leave readers on the edge of their seats as Nightwing clashes with the Judge!
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The death toll in Blüdhaven is rising fast. Nightwing puts his detective skills to work as he tracks down the elusive Judge, a serial killer with a golden tongue who’s followed him throughout his superhero career. NIGHTWING #38 leaves our hero severely injured with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. With the aftermath of a massacre in a monastery, Nightwing continues to follow the trail of carnage and corrupted hearts tied to Judge.

The Story Unfolds

So NIGHTWING #38 opens with a monologue by Judge. He talks about the human heart and how there’s no desire without corruption. Being able to manipulate and persuade others to do his bidding by using their greatest desires against them is the root of his power. No one is safe from being corrupted; therefore others are powerless against him. Making Judge, in a sense, untouchable, like the title of this issue.

NIGHTWING #38 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Nightwing finds Guppy, a timid, mutated shark who happens to be the son of a former gang leader, and menace to Blüdhaven, King Sturgeon. Guppy also falls under the influence of Judge and murders his ailing father in his bed with the hopes of gaining respect in the criminal underworld.

Later on in the story, there’s a moment where Dick Grayson poses as a male dancer to sneak into the building where Judge is located. If you like some good Dick Grayson fanservice, there’s a page for you. For me, it seemed unnecessary and a bit out of place. Especially when leading up to the confrontation between Nightwing and Judge we’ve been waiting for. Outnumbered and wounded, Nightwing finally tracks down Judge, and the story reaches a heart-pounding climax as he faces off against him and his associates, the League of Limousine Assassins. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next issue.

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Stunning Art By Bernard Chang

Immediately, Bernard Chang’s striking art style and specific use of color drew me into the story. Sunset colors of lavender, peach, and gold always seemed to surround Judge whenever he appeared. Even his calling card is a gold token. Detective Svoboda is encircled by this rosy purple halo right before she picks up a rifle. In order to protect her daughter, she essentially makes a deal with the devil and agrees to shoot Nightwing. These colors visually represent his power of control and how far his influence reaches in Blüdhaven.

There are some elements of the art style that evoked a jarring shock for me. The panel fully displaying the corpse of King Sturgeon was incredibly striking. A former gang leader who was ill is stabbed to death by his son. His death felt like a hard hit. Nightwing compares King Sturgeon to a monster or boogeyman that terrifies children, and even he’s taken out by Judge’s power. Another startling image is towards the end, when Judge removes his sunglasses to reveal sewed up eyelids. It’s a terrifying visual that grabbed my attention as a reader.

NIGHTWING #38 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Dick Grayson’s Character

What always inspires me whenever I read a NIGHTWING comic is the how hard Dick Grayson has to fight to assert his identity. Adamant about stepping away from Batman’s shadow and his old mantle as Robin, he asserts himself as no longer being the Boy Wonder of Gotham. He’s Nightwing of Blüdhaven. Different city, different hero. This installment has definitely stayed true to the core of his character.

Grayson holds himself accountable for each murder caused by Judge. He takes every death as a failure on his part, a failure to stop Judge and his actions. The theme of responsibility is so heavy in the comic. Nightwing’s intense feelings of responsibility and justice are what fuel his determination to put an end to Judge’s corruption once and for all. Even when he’s outnumbered by Judge’s crew, he perseveres and his inner strength shines through.

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Overall Thoughts On NIGHTWING #38

The story is great, thanks to the brilliant Sam Humphries. Bernard Chang’s art style really does grab the reader’s attention with striking images. So for fans of Nightwing who enjoy seeing his detective skills and fierce determination in action, you will thoroughly enjoy this installment.

One Comment

  1. Dc4life

    February 8, 2018 at 9:34 am

    You say all those things about the Judge…how is he doing what he’s doing? How does he see into people’s desires? Is it magic? Tech? Do the casino chips have something to do with It? One of the least developed villains in comics


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