Grayson, Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by Tim Seeley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Firstly, thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in return for my honest unbiased opinion. Secondly, thanks to DC publishing, who are usually very stingy when it comes to granting NetGalley requests for Canadian readers…but I’m very glad that I got approved this time.
Grayson, of course, is a book about the original Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. Without a doubt the best Robin ever, the only Nightwing ever, and the best Batman not named Bruce Wayne (it’s a short list, but when Bruce was MIA in time and thought dead, Dick kept Batman alive and well, and invigorated).
If you recall, Forever Evil, the story event where the Crime Syndicate came to Earth from Earth 3, the Justice League was pretty much wiped out, and Nightwing was captured, unmasked, and appeared to die on TV screens across the planet. However, if you also recall, one of the most emotionally moving moments in the New 52, Batman put everything else aside for once, and saved Dick, his former protege, and arguably, best friend. However, Dick no longer had the secret identity to continue on, and with the majority of the world thinking him dead, (including many superheroes, and even the rest of the Bat Family (even Alfred!)) he joined up with Spyral, a superpowered spy agency.
Spyral feels like the agency from the old UK show the Prisoner, with everyone having a number, the Spiral being a common motif, as well as the unknown nature of who to trust and if this is good or bad. I personally like the idea, but only became familiar with Spyral during Batman Inc., when the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, appeared in the Batcave and told Batman to end his war against Leviathan and his forces. I think Dick might also have been there…
Anyhow, Dick is partnered with Helena Bertinelli, the former Huntress, also thought dead by the world…(the Huntress who appears in New 52 is actually Helena Wayne, from Earth 2, borrowing Bertinelli’s identity. I really loved seeing the 2 paired together, they work quite well as a team. Her cover is that of “Matron” who runs a girls finishing school for assassins and spies. Dick is later forced to act as a gay gymnastic teacher at the school after his presence is discovered by the girls, who crush on him big time. it’s nice to see the humour returned to Dick, who quips that he loves being chased by college girls.
We get to see a few missions that Dick (Agent 37) goes on with Helena, and it makes perfect sense that his acrobatic training, his work alongside Batman, and his desire to fight evil would be a perfect way to have him recruited by the spy agency. We don’t know at first, but later discover that Dick is in contact with someone named “Mr. Malone” who all good Bat readers will know….wink wink. I liked that touch, because it didn’t spell it out for you, but you pretty well knew if you’ve read enough Batman. A cool moment for sure, and the contact between Mr. Malone and Dick is some of the best stuff in this book, and gave me a case of the feels, and even a laugh.
Spyral itself is confusing, because they know who Batman really is, as well as a couple of other Supes (Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman) and they plan to know more so they can have that power over them. The agency is so secretive that Dick doesn’t even know the identity of his boss, because they use nanobots to obscure his face even in person, in a Spiral pattern no less…the missions are interesting enough, and we see that Dick’s unwillingness to kill ends up costing lives of other people, and I look forward to seeing how the follow that up.
One of the biggest highlights for me was the arrival of another character, who I love, and who actually began as a Batman parody…the Midnighter! Turns out, he’s been keeping an eye on what Spyral is up to, and it has him cross paths with Dick, and they end up in a obvious fight…duh, but that being said, it was very cool that Midnighter is given a secondary role here, trying to stop Spyral, which leads Dick to question the agency’s purposes and motives even more than before. We even see Apollo come and try to get Midnighter to come back to Stormwatch, and leave things alone…
In conclusion, for a new series from DC New 52, I had high hopes, but also know that the track record hasn’t been great. That being said, most of the Bat Family titles have been the successful parts of the experiment, and Grayson follows that trend. Dick is easily the most well known Bat Family member other than the Bats himself, and there’s no way DC would have let us suffer too long without him, and I also feel like if Dick had actually died, so soon after Damian, that Would have been too much. Happily, we get a brand new Dick series, and with it, freedom to expand and explore the core of who the character is, and what changes he will undergo. Add to that a pairing with Helena Bertinelli, who is a very good partner for Dick, and you’ve got the makings of a fun, enjoyable, series with just enough humour to avoid the plague of “gritty” that infects too many DC titles.
I look forward to following this series closely, and will jump on Volume 2 as soon as it shows up. Hopefully the new Convergence event won’t kill this series…
Thanks again to NetGalley for the ARC.
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