No longer Nightwing or even Robin, Dick Grayson is now Agent 37.
The rest of the world might believe him dead after the episode with the Murder Machine, but he’s definitely alive and well, working undercover for Spyral.
In Grayson #1, Dick’s on a mission to secure one Ninel Dubov, a lonely train passenger who for reasons yet unknown is a very wanted man. Grayson must contend with agents from competing organizations and prove his worth to Spyral, and he’ll have to do it with a mixture of misdirection, acrobatics, and some physicality.
The first issue is straightforward from start to finish, introducing main characters to the arc as well as the lead conflict. Grayson’s new allies are heavy hitters who should be taken seriously, and Mister Minos’ plot to reveal the identities of the world’s superheroes would just seem ambitious if it weren’t for the panel showing what he’s been able to discover.
There’s also the curious appearance by the Batman-analog Midnighter who adds a sort of Oedipal element to the story — in one form or another, Grayson can’t escape the shadow of the bat. It will be interesting to see whether the two will eventually get along or keep duking it out — either way, it’s a story element that maintains an ever-present conflict for the Dark Knight’s former sidekick.
And then there are the Archer similarities — spurts of comedy, a bit of spy douchiness, and a possible love interest with the field superior whose codename Matron comes from the Latin word for mother.
And having put together those two paragraphs, I’m wondering whether I’m reading too much into this because — and maybe it’s just a coincidence — it seems like Tim Seeley has Grayson scheduled for an intense psychiatric session this side of Freud. I know it’s a little premature to start diagnosing — this being the first issue and all — but I can’t help but connect the dots I’m seeing. It might affect how I go into reading issue #2, but I’ll try to be open to what Seeley and story partner Tom King have laid out — and it might turn out I have the correct angle after all.
That said, Seeley’s done a fine job creating a solid story that doesn’t sink and drown in cliches. Grayson isn’t just a spy in a suit — he’s the superhero Nightwing moonlighting as a field agent, and that delivers more physical action, a lighter tone that gives us Ninel and Dick clinking beer steins as they become super-friends, and bigger threats by way of men who shoot energy blasts from their bodies.
All of this is brilliantly displayed on page by Mikel Janin’s superb artwork. From the clever layouts to the panel-by-panel cinematics, Janin’s visuals flow. Grayson is accurately displayed flipping, spin-kicking, and tumbling in true and polished form, and Jeromy Cox’s clean colors are consistent and bright.
Grayson’s in great hands, and regardless of whether there’s a Freudian thing going on here, the approach looks like it’s heading in a fun direction against the likes of its grim and grittier Bat-Family titles. When I first heard about the title, I was worried that DC was just cashing in on the hype of the Winter Soldier, but Grayson stands alone. It brings me back to the series Spy Boy — a comic series that had a lot going for it. If Seeley and Co. can build a series that expands on what’s set up here — an entertaining and well-written story with complementary visuals that are a joy to stare at — they’ve got a winner on their hands.
Grayson #1 (2014)
Words: Tim Seeley
Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Next Issue: Grayson #2 Review
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