Dick Grayson is acclimating himself quickly to his new role as an agent of Spyral.
Not that you should be worried about his affiliations — Grayson’s actually a double agent working to take down the organization from within by tapping into their resources and securing the objects he’s helping them capture.
Last issue, Grayson proved himself by bringing in a target who had the ability to shoot energy blasts from his body. In Grayson #2, Dick’s tasked with securing an “enhanced stomach” — a mission that almost proved fatal for Agent 24, the Hood.
What Grayson and Helena Bertinelli, aka Matron, come up against churns their stomachs as they’re ambushed by the stomach implant’s creator and current host, Dr. Ashemoore. After witnessing what kinds of imminent threats were headed for Earth, Dr. Ashemoore came up with the digestive processor to help humans survive. The side effect — a blazing fast metabolism that ages the body if it doesn’t absorb enough calories. It also grants its host super speed, a la Flash.
She’s just a tough challenge for the Spyral agents until she ups the ante by taking a nice juicy bit out of Grayson’s arm. You see, the doctor’s taken a liking for human flesh when she had to come up with a solution for all of the thieves’ bodies piling up at her door.
Dick would rather incapacitate Dr. Ashemoore — and risk damaging the organ — instead of the diplomatic approach, much to the chagrin of Bertinelli who sees another way out. With one word, Bertinelli shocks Grayson’s brain and knocks him out cold, leaving her to offer Dr. Cannibal a job with Spyral.
When next we see him, he observes Matron charging her students to do what it takes to finish a mission without fail.
Grayson #2 further expands on the first issue with glimpses into the title’s bigger picture. We get to see Midnighter in the God Garden, speaking to Gardener. Midnighter’s been implanted with an organic computer that helps him predict the outcomes of battles. Though he lost his first battle with Dick, Midnighter’s had his mind on planning a comeback.
As for Batman, he’s been busy with Gotham. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss his first protege. Bruce and Dick have several conversations that show they’re still connected and on the same page concerning Dick’s black ops.
Writer Tim Seeley has put together a solid issue that pushes the pace. There are no dull moments in Grayson #2, and the Spyral-Mobile is a nice little comedic touch that gives the story a little lightness before it treads into horror territory. Grayson’s world has turned into a sort of freaky Pokemon mission with a growing cast of strange characters, and it’s interesting to see the contrasts between the new recruits and Grayson’s partner Matron who gets some character development on the bookends.
The artwork by Mikel Janin, Guillermo Ortego, and Juan Castro is beautiful and dynamic, and it’s what the title demands since it stars one of the world’s best acrobats who happens to be trained by Bruce Wayne. The action sequences are potent, and the faces are instantly recognizable — and that’s what’s so amazing about the artwork. These are characters with definition, and from panel to panel, the level of consistency builds trust with our eyes and brains so we don’t have to guess what’s going on.
But not everything is perfect about the book. There are choppy parts that detract from the overall pace — Hood’s introduction into the issue doesn’t have as strong an impact as it should have, and there’s a jarring jump that takes us immediately from Matron and Grayson entering Farmington and plops us in the middle of a high-speed battle. The blanks are filled in by a flashback which points to the issue’s biggest flaw — too much explication. There’s a lot of explaining to do, and there are a lot of characters doing it. It isn’t so bad when Ashemoore gushes about Dr. Netz’s papers, but it feels contrived when Midnighter starts to narrate a part of his origin to someone who’s likely heard it before. For another example of it, check out the Cycles of Violence head honcho giving Batman the score.
It’s a way of getting readers up to speed and keeping them in the loop, but if Grayson were a moving vehicle, those scenes are pit stops that make us want to just get back into the race. I’d much rather Seeley write the story like the last Matron scene when Grayson spies on her training session. His expression says it all, and the subtext is strong enough to evoke a reaction that we can all empathize with.
Grayson #2 has some great moments, and it’s an eclectic mix of genre tropes with some excellent surprises. I like the fact Seeley and Tom King have plotted a story that doesn’t involve supervillains for name recognition. Instead, the focus is on characters and interesting plot twists that revolve around a bigger foil. For that Grayson #2 stands out. Future issues will be much stronger than this when the pacing doesn’t get bogged down by setup. Action is Grayson’s strongest suit, and it will benefit greatly from not having to ride the brakes.
Grayson #2 (2014)
Words: Tim Seeley
Art: Mikel Janin, Guillermo Ortego, and Juan Castro
Colors: Jeromy Cox