"Grayson" #12 is a big moment for the series: after a year's worth of issues in which his closest friends and allies have thought him dead, Dick Grayson returns to Gotham and lets them know the truth. While Tom King, Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin's comic covers the ground fans have been waiting for, it says a lot about "Grayson" as a series that this now feels like an unnecessary diversion.
King and Seeley have done so much to give "Grayson" its own identity -- everything from the basic setup to a new supporting cast and even a new set of allies -- that this is, in some ways, a big (admittedly temporary) step backwards. I understood the specter of Dick's faked death was going to hover over the title until this happened and, in many ways, King and Seeley needed to address this so the book could fully move forward. With everything else put on hold while Dick meets up with old friends and faces, it's a tiny bit frustrating to get little forward momentum.
That said, if you're going to take a step backwards, King and Seeley show us you can at least get some nice character sketches in. It almost feels like a tryout for the writers to get the chance to write some of the other Batman family comics, and I mean that in a good way. With everything from a barrage of past-dialogue snippets to a wide range of different reactions, King and Seeley clearly understand how to write all of the guest stars in "Grayson" #12. There's a little something for everyone here. Personally, my favorite was Dick and Damian's reunion, both in terms of recognizing their time as the dynamic duo in "Batman & Robin" and also over the fact both of them had been presumed dead. For fans of some of the other characters, there will almost certainly be a moment that jumps out for them, too.
As with most issues of "Grayson," though, it's Janin who steals the show. Janin's art (with some pages inked by Hugo Petrus and Juan Castro) continues to be vibrant and energetic. The fight scene in Wayne Manor is a great example; the afterimages of the duo fighting (perfectly colored by Jeromy Cox to be both visually interesting and also easy to follow) flow perfectly across the page, and the assemblage of panels at the bottom forming a Bat-symbol is eye-catching while still telling the story. Janin's figures also look great even when they're still; their faces and bodies are very human and realistic in a way few artists can manage. It's a pleasure to see Janin continuing to get attention as his art evolves and strengthens.
"Grayson" #12 is a fun comic, but it's the final page that has the greatest impact as he faces off Agent Zero. "Grayson" #12 ultimately reminds us what a good job this book has done in forging its own identity and how this really isn't yet another "Nightwing" comic with a different title. I'm glad this dangling plot nub has been dealt with, and that King, Seeley and Janin can get back to pushing ahead with their own storylines once more.