Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grayson #1 Review

A brand new day.

Richard Grayson has a new lease of life after the shattering events of Forever Evil rendered him unmasked and unable to carry on the Nightwing mantle.

And this is Dick as you’ve never seen him before. With a new array of weapons, new environments and unusual objectives, Grayson is as much a stranger to the world of SPYRAL as possible.

Tim Seeley does the most important thing needed – he keeps Dick Grayson the same as the one who was Nightwing. It’s a new place, but the same old as far as he is concerned.

And Mikel Janin – the more I say about this guy, the more I feel I haven’t said enough. His art is so beautifully constructed that even if Seeley didn’t put the captions there, I would have understood everything that was happening.


We first get a brief backstory for Dick Grayson, using his various roles to bookend his life.

For those new to the book, here is a small prologue to this.

An alternate universe evil Justice League arrived on the planet and Nightwing was their first major superhero captive. He was unmasked and his full life story published on every media possible. Surviving the events following that, he was instructed by Bruce to go undercover as a double agent for SPYRAL.

Earlier, this agency (which counts the first Batwoman Kathy Kane as one of its prime members) had crossed path with Batman and his family during the events of Batman Incorporated. Now, he has a lead that they’re hunting down the identities of the metahumans currently residing on Earth.

Despite his concerns, Dick Grayson reluctantly accepts the mission.

We catch up to him on a very clich├ęd but well used spy movie location – the top of a train. He faces off against a Russian agent and uses his gun in an unusual manner to knock him out.

I like that despite accepting the gun, he still restrains himself from 'using' it and instead manipulates the weapons into one of his escrima sticks. For people against him even carrying one, I’ll like to point out that Batman is the one averse to guns and Dick had one while on the job as a member of the Buddhaven police squad.

A figure watches the skirmish from the mountain side.

Inside, he identifies himself with his assumed name and goes to intercept the target. The target Nikel Dubov and a woman are eating in a carriage, as Dick contacts another agent ‘The Matron’ Helena Bertenelli and comes to know she has failed.

Dick accosts the two at the bar and purposely spills a drink on the woman. We come to learn that she is actually the second Russian Secret Service agent sent to retrieve Dubov. Helena is able to get her on a second try even as Dick escapes with the target.

It’s interesting that the Russian agent makes mention of the other agencies of the DC Universe – A.R.G.U.S, C.I.A. and most interestingly Checkmate.

Using his ‘hypos’, Dick manages to make Dubov co-operative and they move to a nuclear silo for the next objective, where they are intercepted by the figure – Midnighter of Stormwatch.

It's interesting that the first 'superhero' that Dick encounters in his new line of work is a Wildstorm analogue of Batman, the man who put him in this situation in the first place.

In an extended and well choreographed fight, we learn that due to a special treatment the agents of SPYRAL receive, no one can remember their face. As the battle stays in stalemate, Nikel wakes up and shoots a nuclear blast from his chest.

Knowing that the nuclear build-up may kill Nikel, he forces another blast to burn the energy out by making him believe he’s his enemy.

Mister Minos, the faceless handler, comments that the escape wasn’t exactly under wraps thanks to the nuclear silo collapsing but commends on Dick’s adaptability and ability to handle himself in the field.

Apparently, SPYRAL managed to extract whatever it was inside Nikel and transport him to a hotel room with no memory of what transpired. Back in the ‘nest’ (Saint Haorian’s Finishing School for Girls, which was the place Batgirl aka Stephanie Brown infiltrated in the pre-New 52 Bat Inc), Dick communicates with Batman under Bruce’s often used disguise of Mr Malone ('Matches').

Bird Watcher? Seriously? Funny.

He is interrupted by Helena, who flirts with him but is stopped by Dick who cites the policy of no dating the colleagues. This I could have done without. I know he's one of the best looking in the DCU, but do we have to force a love interest on him every time (Sonia Branch, Barbara etc etc)??

Back at base, Mister Minos receives confirmation from Frau Netz that something called Project Paragon is behind this.

As most Bat Inc readers know, Otto Netz was the main villain in the pre-New 52 series and an expert at making inescapable mazes. It seems this is his daughter.

We then glimpse what is probably a piece of Amazo the Android, before Minos’ main objective is revealed – use the technology to locate and expose every metahuman alive.

This, just like most of Morrison's run on Batman, skirted the edge of campy and edgy as we got imaginary beers, crazy weapons and a faceless handler! I loved the humor in this book and feel this is a good start to Dick Grayson's new life.

I also loved that Dick didn't rely on just his weapons or their usual usage anyway. Using his gun as a batarang and managing to override the hypnos to manipulate Nikel were both good moments.


This was a fun read, complemented by some amazing artwork.

DC doesn’t have many spy books right now, and it seems Seeley gets who Grayson is despite his new moniker.

So, I give this 8.5 out of 10.

+Amazing artwork. Janin is something all right.

+Some excellent use of spy tropes

+Tim Seeley uses Dick Grayson excellently
+Great mixture of ridiculous and edgy
+Nice cameo

-Not exactly reader friendly. If you haven’t read Bat Inc, most of the book may go over your head

-It doesn’t seem like a proper transition from Nightwing to this book

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