In last month’s Grayson #3 we saw some pretty big things go down for our titular hero, ending in a rather emotional moment that played up the whole aspect of why Batman never carried a gun and why he never trained his sidekicks like Dick Grayson into their use. It was also one of the best issues of this brand-new series from DC, taking place after the events of this year’s Forever Evil event that saw Dick “die” as far as his friends are concerned, all except for Batman. Even as Dick’s own journey continues, we also get to see more of what the shadowy and secretive SPYRAL is up to, and it is not good, not at all.
Since the start, this new series has dabbled in the occasional humour and light-hearted moment while staying primarily serious and intense and focused on whatever the end goal is, which I’d surmise is the taking down of SPYRAL since Dick is working for the organization on behalf of Batman. But in this week’s issue, we see things head in a different direction as Tom King and Tim Seeley tackle something at the heart of who Dick used to be, a poster-boy for fangirls everywhere. It is a great change in pace in the first arc of the series, and Mikel’s art excels as always, to especially great effect.
One of the absolutely best things about Grayson is the team-up of Dick Grayson with Helena Bertinelli, who is actually Helena Wayne from Earth 2, the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. The series hasn’t touched on this dynamic as yet, which I find to be a bit odd, but at the same time, it also allows Tom and Tim to have a lot of fun in terms of how these two interact, especially since Helena is Dick’s superior within SPYRAL. She is definitely senior to him since she also helps run Hadrian’s finishing school for girls, and goes by the title Matron.
There are lots of new developments and surprises in store for the reader in this issue. As I mentioned above, this is a very light-hearted issue in that it explores Dick’s sexuality and his sex appeal. He’s always been an object of fascination and fawning for fangirls, ever since he became Nightwing and left his old identity as the (first) Robin behind, and writers Tom and Tim put that into a modern context in this issue as they explore what it is like for several girls at Hadrian’s to get a “confirmation” that there’s a man on the school grounds, what with Hadrian’s being an all-girls school.
Really fun dynamic, and a chase across the school grounds ensues, even as Helena is ordered by Mr. Minos to find out who has been sending out unauthorized messages from the school, which doubles up as the headquarters for SPYRAL. This is something that has been building up for a while now, and something I’ve been looking forward to seeing more of since the series started and the writers certainly do not disappoint on that front.
In a bit of a welcome surprise, we also touch base with the Midnighter, who has been absent for a while, and find out that he used to be a part of the superhero team known as the Stormwatch at some point and that his former team is calling him back now because of some kind of an emergency. The writers offer more questions than answers in this issue on this front, but they do in style, and have the setting in Dubai no less, which really pleased me. Kind of a Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol moment there. Very entertaining, to say the least.
Mikel Janin is the artist here with Jeromy Cox on colours and Carlos M. Mangual on the letters. The art this time around is very lively on point, in keeping with the story of the issue. I liked the energetic pace of the visuals, as well as some of the neat stuff that Mikel and Jeromy did with facial expressions and body language, not to mention the cool things like Helena slapping a candy out of Dick’s hands early on, etc. The art here is definitely one of the biggest sells of this series and the only negative here is Midnighter’s Stormwatch teammate, who looks a bit too generic to really stand out in a crowd.
All in all, a really fine issue!