This week saw the release of Grayson #1. The new big thing for Batman’s former sidekick, the first Robin turned Nightwing, Dick Grayson. Trading in the super heroics for a globetrotting and mind bending super spy lifestyle. Grayson is one of those rare New 52 books that attempts to deliver on the promise of the New 52. Taking a familiar character and putting a new spin on them, taking both them and the reader out of their comfort zone and trying something new.
First thing, let’s get you up to speed before we explore the life of Dick Grayson, Super Spy:
- Forever Evil happened and it was a great and underrated event comic. (Seriously go read it, it is a lot of fun!)
- Nightwing was captured by the Crime Syndicate and they did this on international television,
- Dick then spent the rest of Forever Evil hanging on the edge of life or death. This caused everyone to speculate that Dan Didio would finally get his wish and we would see the death of Nightwing.
- Nightwing died, for five very, very tense minutes.
- Lex Luthor then saved the world.
- Batman recovered Dick and decided to make his “death” public knowledge.
- Bruce Wayne had a new mission for Dick Grayson one that would benefit from the world and his closest friends thinking he was dead.
- The mission is to infiltrate Spiral, the super secretive spy organisation created by Grant Morrison during his run on Batman and Batman Inc.
- The reason, they know Batman’s identity and could know the identities of other heroes.
- Queue opening credits!
Grayson #1 is a pretty good introduction to this new take on the character. It’s a lot of setup and introductions but it is a fun ride. Even with the slightly humours opening line for the book,
Tom Seeley (writer) and Tom King (co-plotter) manage the impossible and put Dick Grayson into a spy story without corrupting the core of the character and the way he is. Throughout the issue you see Dick’s more lighthearted nature shine through. Then when called for he can be serious. His nature makes him a pretty good spy, more in the mould of a young Ethan Hunt rather than your archetypal James Bond.
It is also good to see that the character’s acrobatic skills have been seamlessly incorporated into his spy shenanigans. Being able to back flip on queue and bounce around your enemies is the perfect combat style for a spy in the DC Universe. When dealing with super powered beings you need more than just a gun and a mean right hook.
It’s not all spy stuff though, this is a DC Comic so Agent Grayson needs to punch a superhero or villain or the universe will implode! So a good chunk of the issue is dedicated to a very random encounter with Midnighter. Somewhat shoehorned into the book give this first issue an action beat and to help setup seeds of plots to payoff down the line. It is a case of cool spy stuff for most of the issue and then you are reminded that this is superhero book. Which is both a good and bad thing.
Spies and superheroes mix very well together but they need to done right. Here the super heroics are just thrown at the reader because they need to be. Dick does not need Midnighter to be there it could just have easily been a rival spy. In fact that would have felt more organic.
Forced superhero action aside the first issue is good. It also finally introduces us to the New 52 version of Helena Bertinelli and I like her. She oozes cool and I am looking forward to seeing her character being fleshed out over the next few issues.
If you are looking for a straight up spy comic this is not the book you are looking for. This is the DC Universe and Spiral so it more surrealist spy stuff a la The Prisoner, full of hypno gadgets and people with literal spirals for faces. Rather than your straight up James Bond or Jason Bourne type deal. It is always the case for these kinds of blends of spies and superheroes. Most of the time it descends into a confusion mess of high concept ideas and surrealist imagery. This solid first outing however shows promise that Grayson can tread that line between horrible mess and being damn fine comic book. Let’s just hope that the creative team can keep up the quality long term.
As for Dick’s mission it looks like he has his work cut out for him because Spiral are already on the way to uncovering more superheroes secret identities!