Nightwasp is a broad superhero spoof, in the vein of Airplane or The Naked Gun. Its humor comes largely from non-sequiturs, pop culture references, and a self-aware, self-referential wink and nod to the audience. Nightwasp is essentially Batman—particularly the campy, '60s Batman played by Adam West. His boy sidekick is Ferret Lad—only they’ve been at this for a few years now, and the “boy sidekick” is now a 40-year-old man who still dresses and acts like a boy sidekick.
Many of the characters are thinly veiled versions of existing characters. On the superhero team that Nightwasp heads is a Superman-like character who spends every waking moment complaining about how his planet was blown up. There’s also an Alfred character, a Lois Lane type, and more.
The best (and probably most specific) character parodies, though, are the villains. In the first issue we see two, each clearly inspired by an Adam West Batman villain. First is The Weatherman who looks like Cesar Romero’s Joker (complete with mustache). Then, we meet Narcissus, a Greek god whose origin story clearly draws from the lesser-known recurring villain, King Tut.
Nightwasp’s humor swings hard. Right from the start, it’s packed with joke after joke and silly reference after silly reference. When these jokes connect, they’re knocked out of the park, making you laugh until your sides hurt. With that many jokes, though, not all of them can land, and there are just as many swings and misses as there are hits. Some of them try too hard, others are in bad taste, and some just don’t come across the way they should. That brand of parody is very difficult to do effectively, and even those who are competent at it (as writer Keith Crook clearly is) can have a hard time keeping it up for any length of time.
Still, there’s plenty to love about Nightwasp and more than enough entertaining moments to make it worthwhile. If you’re a fan of campy parody and off-the-wall, Zucker Brothers-style humor, you’ll probably enjoy Nightwasp.