Laura McCarthy reviews Grayson #1….
Dick Grayson. Former sidekick. Former Super Hero. Former dead man. And now… agent of Spyral?! A thrilling new chapter of Dick Grayson’s life begins in this new, ongoing series. It’s a super-spy thriller that will shock you and prove one thing: You might think you know Nightwing – but you don’t know Dick.
Okay, okay…let’s give a little background before we start off – I hate the overall concept of this book. Everyone who reads my blog and sees my tweets knows this. I tried my very, very best to keep my bias out of it when I read Grayson, and did a pretty good job of doing that. Nevertheless though, I kind of called it right away with this book. Now some people may think that it’s usual, fanboyish “boo hoo, I don’t like change! Everything needs to stay the same in comics! Whine, whine, complain, moan!” This is not the case though, at least for me, I love change in comics. Seeing the status quo get shaken up is great. I got into comic books when Dick Grayson became Batman and one of the first stories I followed closely was Brightest Day, when Deadman became sort of Aliveman. But! (And there is the inevitable “but”.) I like change when it feels natural and like it’s the next step in a big overall story – I like change when it advances the characters and doesn’t feel like some attempt to just cause a stir and make money. I like change that helps open new doors for characters and doesn’t squander what we already have. So you’re probably thinking, “but this is exactly what you want in Grayson! This creates a whole new world for him!”
But the thing is…it really doesn’t.
Grayson is centered around Dick Grayson becoming a mole to take down Spyral, and organization that wants to find out the secret identities of the DCnU’s super heroes. As a limited series, this would be a pretty interesting idea – a side quest away from Dick’s time as Nightwing before eventually returning to the role with the new skills he’s learned and as a changed man. The thing is, this isn’t supposed to be a limited, it’s being written and marketed as an ongoing series. This is where the problem comes in, the mission is eventually going to have to end. And then what? What happens next? Does Dick go back to being Nightwing, does he reform Spyral and become some kind of leader in it (which would be dumb, considering that he’s supposed to be dead), or what? Unless Tim Seeley is planning to pull some Detective Conan stuff where Spyral just keeps barely avoiding capture or he puts a lot of focus into random missions Dick goes on – I have to wonder how much of a future this series could have. I think that would be pretty cheap though, considering that most people are probably picking up this series for the main storyline.
Also I have to be suspect about just why Dick had to be the one to go on this super special awesome mission – especially when either Tim or Jason would probably be a better choice. Part of me thinks it’s just because Tim is still a teenager and Jason would probably tell Bruce to shove his mission where the sun doesn’t shine. So even though Tim has (at least in the old universe) been portrayed as the “smartest Robin” and Jason already legally dead, as well as experienced with firearms – Dick kind of just got shoved into the role. This isn’t the first time Dick has been separated from the “family”, if I recall correctly Devin Grayson’s run on Nightwing had that element to it, but I personally like to see all of the Bat characters working close together.
Onto the issue itself, I guess Grayson isn’t as bad as I thought it would be? I mean, don’t get me wrong – it’s bad, and I’ll get to that – but I thought I was going to go into this and end up screaming in rage. The words “hate aneurysm” came up in conversation at least once when discussing this book with friends. But it’s not the steaming pile of garbage I was absolutely sure it was going to be.
The first half of the book left me with a “meh” feeling, it wasn’t really good, but not really bad either. I think I spent more time making fun of Dick’s douchey blond haircut (thank you, sweet merciful higher being, it’s just a wig) and scaly blue Adidas than invested in what was going on in the story. Also I was pretty confused about what Midnighter was doing in this book, I didn’t know Midnighter was even going to be involved in this nonsense.
It’s the second half that left me dumbfounded, my stankface was legendary. Granted if I hadn’t been on the train while I was reading this issue, my reaction would have been a lot more vocal. See, a few pages in – this thing called “Hypnos” is brought up. At first I thought, “huh, funny name, it must be some kind of drug or something” because…well, logically when I see a spy story, I think of drugging people to get the information. Each time it was brought up, though, I got a little bit more suspicious about what exactly “Hypnos” is supposed to be. And then the other shoe dropped…
“Hypnos” is hypnosis. Somehow the agents of Spyral have something embedded in their brains…that makes them able to hypnotize people. Like I said before, “UGGGHHHHH.”
That’s not even the half of it, since apparently agents have identity protection implants too. That’s just…wow, way to remove the chance of some really good conflict about Dick needing to be careful with his identity. I wonder how these implants even got inside the agents, it doesn’t look like Dick had any brain surgery recently. I choose to believe it’s a suppository.
Also Dick apparently works at a finishing school for girls as part of his secret identity. I’m more interested in that story. What do you teach, Dick? Ballroom dancing? I smell a fanfic.
The only real saving grace I can see to Grayson is the artwork. And no, that’s not because Mikel Janin follows me on Twitter. What I’m noticing that I like the most about Janin’s artwork is his expressions, there’s variations between panels that actually feel as if the characters are moving pieces and not just static images. Also those two pages of shirtless Dick Grayson weren’t that bad at all.
What’s really going to be interesting about Grayson in the long run is comparing the sales numbers for this first issue, and then comparing them to numbers four months from now. Unfortunately, or maybe not, this is the jumping off point for me.
I may not “know Dick”, but I don’t really want to. Someone give me a ring when he’s back in spandex.