10 Issues In: Grayson
It’s finally come! DC Comics’ Grayson by Tim Seeley, Tom King (writers) and Mikel Janin (artist) has hit ten issues so I’m able to do another write-up on this great series. I basically look for any reason to talk about this series since, outside of the flagship Batman title, this has become my favourite series DC is pumping out. As always this article may contain some spoilers, specifically in regards to the Forever Evil storyline (since this book spins directly out of that event) so if you don’t want that long since concluded event spoiled I would suggest you stop reading now.
So in the aforementioned Forever Evil storyline, Nightwing was captured by the Crime Syndicate and unmasked in front of the world, revealing his secret identity of Dick Grayson to all. He was held hostage and had a bomb strapped to him that could only be defused by making his heart stop. Acting quickly, Lex Luthor did just that, killing Nightwing, and his not-so-secret identity Dick Grayson in the process. What the world didn’t know is that Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor got his heart pumping again once the bomb was defused and he went underground with Bruce, being advised of a new mission. He was to infiltrate the top-secret spy agency Spyral, who Bruce believed was up to something.
This is where Grayson kicks off, dropping us right into the action. Grayson is now a Spyral agent working with his partner, Helena Bertinelli, on their mission to capture and bring in a Russian named Nigel Dubov. But they’re not the only ones after him, as Dick is forced to fight his way on to a train that Dubov is on and even has a run in with Midnighter that becomes on ongoing storyline throughout the series of one-and-done issues. Throughout these one-and-done issues we learn that Spyral has a school where they train agents, which is masked as St. Hadrian’s Finishing School for Girls (where Helena and Dick also act as “teachers”). Their next missions include going after a Biomech Digestive Processor that’s in the possession of a man who savagely beat one of their fellow agents and facing an assassin named The Old Gun who has in his possession the Paragon’s Eyes, another object that Spyral wants recovered. Next, Midnighter literally crashes Spyral’s party, taking down a plane carrying Midnighter, Dick, Helena, as well as a lady and her young child that are important to Spyral. The crash kills the lady, leaving the other three in the middle of the desert with a young one.
We eventually learn that there are a series of Paragon body parts that Spyral wants to collect since each part grants a different power of a Justice League member. When the “brain” is determined to be on a mysterious island both Dick and Helena are sent to retrieve it but they find Midnighter there. Conflict arises but not before they realize that everyone there is dead except for one person, who they learn is a member of “The Fist Of Cain”, a terrorist organization made up of serial killers. As it turns out the Fist of Cain have already secured the brain and plan to unleash a psychic attack on the world. With Helena on route to stop them, Dick ends up stuck in a cell that Midnighter unexpectedly captured him in. Helena has psychic powers called “hypnos” that not only shield her identity from the general public but also allow her to located Dick and Midnighter. When she arrives she gets attacked by The Fist of Cain and is nearly killed but the tides quickly turn when she is aided by Dick, Midnighter, and, most importantly, Mr. Minos.
Mr. Minos, the director of Spyral, finally reveals his plan that includes killing off all agents, something that doesn’t sit well with one Dick Grayson. When Grayson learns this, he makes it his personal mission to stop him by any means necessary, hopeful that he can stop Mr.Minos before he gets to his fellow agents and friends. After a violent and climatic showdown we reach the current arc in which Minos is out as director and Dick’s former partner, Helena Bertinelli, has taken his place. Her first order of business as the new head director is to send Dick to retrieve a kryptonite necklace from a Duchess in Spain. While there, he is greeted by a fellow agent, Tiger, who doesn’t trust Dick at all. Dick is forced to subdue Tiger in the midst of a mission as he threatens to impede his progress. It’s revealed that Tiger’s intentions were good though, as a bunch of Spyral agents have been found dead at past mission sites, with the common denominator seeming to be Dick. Helena is stuck in the middle trying to successfully run the organization while protecting her former partner and friend. We also get a Lex Luthor cameo in the most recent issue, with Luthor acting as Spyral’s drop guy for the recently acquired kryptonite. Dick knows better than to trust Luthor with the powerful green rock and begins to question Spyral’s intentions even more than he already had.
On to the review portion! I love this series because it doesn’t stick to one distinct tone. Although the feel of the book wavers, there is also something that can be found for anyone. The first issue was action packed for a set up issue, the fourth issue focusing on Dick being chased around by the girls at the school was a lot of fun and extremely light-hearted. Then immediately following that was issue five, a true tale of survival and will power seeing Dick fight to survive the desert for days, fleshing out his character in a whole new way. From there we get the darker Fist of Cain issues that focus on a whole different level of survival since it’s worldwide instead of a couple of characters. After the DC Comics event, Convergence, we see Dick flirting it up with the Duchess of Spain to get her necklace in typical suave Dick fashion.
The characterization that writers King and Seeley provide is amazing. The premise was a tough sell, but given the circumstances it was an understandable direction to go in. From the word “Go”, King and Seeley just nailed it. Every issue has been a pleasure to read mostly based on the strong character focused writing, with the dialogue also always being enjoyable and engaging. Although I love the upbeat issues, (especially given DC’s “dark tones” that have been talked about to death at this point) Mikel Janin’s art is always at its strongest during the darker more serious issues, especially the most recent two. Spyral being a faceless corporation and all, Janin is really given the ability to do whatever he wants in a lot of scenes and his texture game is always on point. Best of all, given this is his only ongoing book, he’s able to constantly have his art ready and he never has to take a book off which is a thrill as readers when you pick up the issue and see the familiar personifications as well as styles that you’re used to seeing.
In short, if you aren’t already, you need to be reading Grayson! Volume 1 is available at your Big B Comics now, collecting the first 4 issues of the series as well as the “Future’s End” one-shot and Grayson’s “Secret Origins” story. The current arc began with issue #9 so you can grab issues #9, 10, and even #11 which comes out today. Add this to your pull list, I promise you will not be disappointed.