I can say without any reservations that Tom King and tim Seeley’s Grayson has been a damn fun ride since it debuted a few months ago. Each issue has introduced new mysteries, done a lot to develop Dick Grayson as a character, and also chart a bold new era for the titular hero with respect to his new mission as an agent of the shady organization SPYRAL. The stories have been great, the art has been great, and that’s pretty much all that I’ve asked of the title, without suffering any disappointments along the way.
The new issue from this week, Grayson #5, has a very cold start. You are thrown straight into the action without any kind of context to the events, but once you move past that, you see that the issue yet focuses on showing how Dick Grayson is this great guy who is a hero in the truest sense of the word and that while he may be dead to the rest of the world, he isn’t dead to himself or to his principles, which have driven him since he used to be Robin. The new issue is yet another feather in the cap of the creative team on this title.
The new issue is extremely character-focused in a way that it hasn’t been since the start of the series. The story here is that Helena and Dick are escorting some woman to SPYRAL headquarters when they are (presumably) attacked by Midnighter who is able to get on the plane they are traveling on and then the plane crash-lands and the three of them are then out for a long fight to survive against humungous odds. Of course, the whole action part happens completely off-screen and thus we are thrust straight into the heart of the matter.
While initially I was flummoxed as to what was going on, Tom and Tim bounced back in short order to provide a really compelling tale of the three characters trying to survive in an environment that might very well kill them before they are able to find some help. The writers downplay some of the antagonism of Helena and Dick against Midnighter, but they do show the differences between them, and that’s what I liked the best.
Most of all, the issue focuses on Dick as a character, with the Midnighter and Helena both playing a distant supporting role. As good as the previous issues have been, the supporting cast has always played a big part in proceedings and this is the first issue where most of the story is driven by Dick alone. I find that quite fascinating, in the context of the story that the writers tell here. He sticks to his principles even when the Midnighter tries to sow some doubt in his mind about his mission. The fact alone that both Helena and Dick decide not to incapacitate Midnighter adds more to their character than it does to him. Fascinating indeed.
There’s a larger story here of course, which ties into the very first issue when Dick stops Midnighter and gets the jump on him during a mission We’ve seen before how driven Midnighter is to find out which SPYRAL agent led to him failing in his mission, and that is crystallized in this issue when he does learn the identity of Agent 37. If there was more context to the overall story, then some of the twists would have been more easily digestible, but at the same time I didn’t mind it all too much. Given how the story ends, I’m thinking that the next issue is going to deliver on a much more exciting experience, so I look forward to that.
Mikel is still the artist here, with Jeromy Cox on colours and Carlos M. Mangual on letters. Given that much of the issue is set on a desert and the characters trek on through under searing heat conditions, the artwork is really superb here. We see small changes in the characters as each day progresses, and that adds to the effect of time’s passage. The characters grow more haggard, more tired, and so on with each day, and that’s captured perfectly. And there are so many great splash pages and nicely-divvied up pages that the overall artwork comes off as really, really good.
Some small missteps early on are redeemed as the issue progresses, and the writers definitely end on a strong note here.