Tim Seeley, Tom King, and artist Mikel Janin launch a whole new kind of Bat-title (and Dick Grayson title) with “Grayson” #1. Pulling Batman’s former partner out of the Nightwing costume, out of Gotham, and out of the traditional hero business sets the stage for a whole new adventure for Dick as a whole new kind of hero.
Easily the best thing “Grayson” has going for it is that it feels unlike other DC books whose sameness has begun to wear thin. It feels new, fun and relatively light, despite some well-established high stakes. There’s a sense of joy in the book that is a good fit for Dick Grayson and that feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air for DC.
There are some rough edges, but there’s a lot to like in Tim Seeley and Tom King’s story that finds Dick out of his Nightwing costume and working as a secret agent of sorts going by the name “Agent 37.” Working under an all-new Helena Bertinelli and for an organization called Spyral, it’s clear by the end of the issue that Grayson is working as a double agent for Batman. Grayson is investigating Spyral as it investigates the heroes of Gotham, and appears knows Batman’s civilian identity. It’s a decent twist that gives the book some solid legs for the future.
This first issue doesn’t feel quite as smart as a spy book usually is, and some of the interactions were clunky (the almost romantic moment between Helena and Dick was brutally awkward), but the book gets huge points for embracing this new concept and running with it, flaws and all. There’s time to get the rough bits right and what’s already working, works well. Speaking of working well, Dick’s interaction with The Midnighter, a guest I didn’t expect to see, was the brightest spot of the issue and brought an intriguing element to the tapestry that also happened to come with the best laughs in the book.
Janin’s art for the most part is wonderfully fun and a good fit for the tone of the series. His Dick Grayson is handsome and charming, likable and appropriately heroic. Janin doesn’t skimp on the sexy either, which feels appropriate for Dick Grayson and his well-established “sexiest man of the DCU” aspect. Again, the book exudes fun and this is just another way it demonstrates a playful nature. The action scenes are crisp, pretty and smart, really showing off Dick’s training and natural ability. His fight with The Midnighter is particularly fantastic in this regard. Some of the action was a little over the top and stretched the suspension of disbelief thin — the acrobatics as Dick dismounts a high speed train crossing a high bridge with a 200 pound plus man in tow was a bit of an eye roll — but on the whole, it’s well-paced solid storytelling. Janin’s Helena is gorgeous and of course it’s great to see a woman of color in a large supporting (or perhaps co-starring) role. Janin has come a long way with his female faces and work with expressions and Helena really feels like her own person, rather than a random attractive woman. The sexiness and chemistry of the two leads is definitely a plus, and did a good job visually of making up for some awkward plotting and writing.
All in all, though the series still has some rough edges to smooth out, “Grayson” #1 was a solid start to an interesting new book and new direction for DC. Hopefully this creative team can stay in place for the foreseeable future — and if we’re very lucky, some of the other re-launching books will have the same energy and rush to them that “Grayson” exudes.