This week Nightwing gets a new start with Sam Humphries and Bernard Chang, and we enter the Backways!
Nightwing #35 (DC Comics)
With writer Tim Seely moving over to Green Lanterns, it’s only fitting that the writer behind that series, Sam Humphries, moves over to Nightwing. While I’ve enjoyed the DC Rebirth run when it first started, recent issues of Dick Grayson’s adventures have become a little stale, so I was happy to see that the title would be getting some fresh blood, and man, this is great new beginning for the character.
Faced with the return of a villain from his past, Nightwing has to attempt what he’s failed twice before: defeating the Judge. A villain who seems like a mix between Marvel’s Purple Man and Jason Momoa, the Judge can essentially give anyone whatever they desire, but only if they commit a horrible crime when they get their “gift”. After a casino is torn up by The Judge’s latest “offer”, Nightwing has to find a way to stop the Judge, but how can he do that when this villain can turn all of his allies against him?
Simply put, Sam Humphries’ script is fantastic. The Judge is an instantly compelling bad guy, and Humphries’ builds up this villain’s threat really well throughout the issue. His characterization of Nightwing is really good as well, with a new job as a trainer, and some of the same supporting characters that Tim Seely introduced into the book. It’s a little strange having this issue feel like a soft reboot, but Humphries makes it read really well for longtime fans and newbies too.
Bernard Chang is along for the ride with Humphries, and this opening issue is pretty fantastic under his pencils. From the dazzling acrobatics of Dick Grayson to the first Robin just relaxing (or trying to) at his pad, Chang fills this issue with some truly remarkable artwork. Here’s hoping the other stable of Nightwing artists are able to keep up with this style.
I was pleasantly surprised by Nightwing #35. It’s the shot in the arm this series has needed for some time now, and I can’t wait to see how Nightwing’s battle with The Judge plays out. Sam Humphries has made quite a name for himself at DC, and I’m pumped to see him stretch his wings on a title like this.
Backways #1 (Aftershock Comics)
There are magical worlds just under our noses, but what is someone to do when their best friend gets lost there? That’s the premise behind Justin Jordan and Eleonora Carlina’s Backways, which has a lot of gorgeous art, but doesn’t do quite enough narratively to move the needle for me.
Anna’s friend Sylvia has gone missing and Anna believes that she’s somewhere out in the world, just hidden from sight. Her recent search brings her in contact with the mysterious Coyote Bones, a very talkative witch who introduces her to the Backways, a mysterious area unseen to the human eye that is home to all manner of mystical and magical creatures. Coyote tells Anna that her friend is somewhere here, but can she really be trusted?
It’s clear that Justin Jordan is having fun writing these characters, especially Coyote Bones, but he spends a little too much time on the mystery of Sylvia and not enough setting up the Backways. The issue ends with a huge splash page of the Backways, and leaves you wanting more, which is a great thing most of the time, but here it’s just frustrating. If there was ever an issue that deserved a few more pages, it’s this one.
If we got additional pages, we’d also get more of Eleonora Carlina’s incredible artwork, which is truly something to behold. Aftershock Comics hasn’t been holding back on the art for their books, and this is easily one of the best looking books they’ve put out. Carlina shows off fantastic creature designs, expressive human faces, and massive, multiple character splash pages with ease. If Backways doesn’t land her on a major title in the next few years, I’ll eat every issue of this series.
While Backways wasn’t as compelling as I was hoping, there are some pretty interesting ideas here for fans of magical stories. If anything, it’s worth picking up for the gorgeous artwork, which needs to be seen to be believed. As a new title in a sea of other magic based comics, Backways doesn’t really enough to stand out, but it’s a fantastic debut for the up and coming Carlina.