Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grayson #1

Writer / Tim Seeley
Plot / Tim Seeley & Tom King
Artist / Mikel Janin
Colorist / Jeromy Cox
Letterer / Carlos M. Mangual
Cover / Andrew Robinson
Assistant Editor / Matt Humphreys
Editors / Kickin' Kate Kubert & Merciless Mark Doyle

Mikel Janin is one of my favorite artists, so I was a bit disappointed to see he didn't draw this cover. I guess Andrew Robinson did an OK job ... it's just very ... pink. And I'm not sure what kind of a message they're trying to send with that. Is this supposed to be a serious, or a light-hearted title? Because in the New 52, you're usually one or the other with no in-between. Aside from that dilemma, I am surprisingly unfazed by seeing Dick Grayson holding a gun. Maybe I should be shocked, outraged or excited, but I'm completely indifferent. I guess I've never really cared about him that much — he's always been Nightwing to me and off doing his own thing.

Our story begins with a one-page recap of Dick Grayson's life. From being an acrobat with the Flying Graysons, he became Batman's first sidekick, Robin, then his own hero, Nightwing. But after his identity was exposed during Forever Evil, Batman asked Dick to infiltrate the secret organization known as Spyral.

So we pick up with Dick on one of his first missions as a Spyral agent out in Russia. Absolutely none of this has to do with the Flash, so I'll skip it, only saying that Janin's art is nice and clean and the action isn't too bad. My favorite part was when Dick had to hypnotize a Russian into believing he's his friend. (All Spyral agents are equipped with hypnotic devices to accomplish their missions and conceal their identities.) The hypnotic illusion this guy has is real fun, as it includes the ever-friendly Russian teddy bear, the Cheburashka.

Anyway, Dick accomplishes his mission, just a little messier than Spyral intended. After a quick debriefing at Spyral headquarters, he sends a quick message to Mr. Malone (Batman's most notable alias, Matches Malone) and basically reports he hasn't learned anything yet. We then see that Spyral is working on determining the secret identities of the most notable superheroes in the world. They've already deduced Batman's identity within 89 percent accuracy and Cyborg's at a 90 percent match. Up next on their list is none other than the Flash.

The Good:

Not a whole lot to say here. Janin's art is nice, but not nice enough for me to recommend this book on that alone. Mostly, though, I wonder why this book even exists. It's one of those non-superhero books with superheroes in it, which is a contradiction and never seems to do very well for DC. If they wanted to get serious about doing a James Bond-type spy book, then why'd they choose someone as high-profile and celebrated as Dick Grayson, the first major sidekick in comics history? It just feels very out of place.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. He showed up on a computer screen, which is the exact definition of a passive appearance on this blog. Now, if this computer image were to actually lead to something, say a story where this Spyral organization went after Barry Allen, then this comic would be worth it. But I have a sneaking suspicion that will never happen.

Why is Dick a spy? This issue does not offer up any kind of explanation as to why Dick Grayson has given up being Nightwing to infiltrate this mysterious, yet seemingly all-powerful group. I guess Tim Seeley is working under the impression that readers of this series have already read whichever Batman title it was that set this up. But I didn't read that, and I would have at least liked an editor's note telling me which issue explains this sudden and drastic change to a character who's now been around for about 75 years.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next time, we continue with Grayson #2.

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