“Grayson” #11 sees the culmination of many slow burning threads across the series, as writers Tim Seeley and Tom King reveal to readers the identity of the mystery thorn in Spyral’s side. It’s a good reveal, as it re-colors many previous stories in a new light. The writers and artist Mikel JanÃn pack a lot of action and plot development into this issue, as well as more fan service fighting and sly in-jokes that have become a hallmark of this continually excellent series.
The biggest development here is that Agent 1 finally knows the identity of the person who has been framing Dick and sewing discord in the organization. It’s a dramatic and gruesome scene that gives Agent 1 some of his talent and skill back after leaving him as a punching bag for the last couple issues. Seeley and King pace the issue deftly as control of the situation slowly cedes from Dick to his doppleganger, eventually upending much in the process.
The writers earn the tonal shift as the naturally cocky and charismatic acrobat cracks wise, winking at readers along the way. The dialogue is entertaining and crisp, allowing Grayson to soliloquize about villains like Clayface and Killer Croc while feeling fully confident in his ability to save the day. It’s not until the doppleganger takes control of the fight — and Dick in the process — that the tone becomes serious and the danger of the moment escalates. The villain, familiar to readers of the series, shows Agent 37 just how powerless he’s become and how much bigger the threat is now that his original mission is complete. The fallout gives Spyral some misdirection as the larger game continues to be played from within. It will certainly draw the hero deeper into the plot surrounding the organization, even with Dick walking out at the end of the issue. As revealed in the last two issues, Grayson is now a walking weapon that can be controlled by external forces via his Hypnos implants. Though he thinks he can go his own way, he has now become the danger against which he was fighting.
The fight scenes allow JanÃn more opportunity to play with storytelling via his high caliber skills. The two-page sequence of Dick falling prey to his implants is a perspective-tilting affair as the artist bends and warps the pages in a spiral, aided by colorist Jeromy Cox; together, they create a hazy, dreamlike world around the acrobat as he eventually succumbs to “Tsuchigumo.” The pages of Dick “confronting” himself are as distorted, giving readers a sense of uncertainty and lack of control while the world falls around him. JanÃn is making a name for himself with his considered page layouts, superb character acting and lithe and powerful action scenes. When Tiger finally sees the villain, his moment of revelation is gruesome and drives home his shock, confusion and anger in a single panel.
As the issue closes, a major plot point is revealed, which — like any good spy story — creates a myriad of other questions. There is still so much left to be done and, though the story teases a return to Gotham for next issue, it’s certainly not the end of Dick’s involvement with Spyral. As Huntress tries to hold things together at the top, she continues to find herself the prey and not the predator. Tiger is spun into a web without his knowledge and used as bait. Dick is being manipulated from all sides and feels out to sea. The upheaval makes for fantastic comics and, as Seeley, King and JanÃn continue their innovative work with “Grayson,” readers find themselves pulled further into the Spyral.