Dick Grayson’s about four issues deep as a spy under Spyral command, and everyone’s getting acclimated.
As Agent 37, he’s been on a roller coaster of ups and down, and it’s the beginning of the end of the honeymoon phase. In Grayson #4, one of his prime issues bubbles up ever closer up to the surface: Dick’s longing for his former life as Nightwing.
We all know what that’s like. We get a new job, get really excited, and then the disappointment starts to set in.
We start longing for the grass that was greener on hindsight.
Making things worse, Mr. Minos’ suspicious of a mole in his organization puts Helena Bertinelli on the case. But first the Matron and Agent 37 will have to complete another mission in the Organ Race that’s been taking up most of Dick’s action schedule so far.
Back at St. Hadrian’s Finishing School, one of the students lets her friends in on a little secret by showing them some of the pictures she’s captured with the spycam’s she’s littered around campus and in Dick’s room.
It leads to the girls planning a man-ty raid, and Dick leaves his room after hearing something out of his window, leaving it open for Bertinelli to sneak in.
Grayson #4 is an entertaining issue that goes lateral to follow the stories on the periphery. The students’ mission to find Grayson opens up the entire campus for a good game of cat and mouse while Bertinelli acts on her suspicions and raids Dick’s room. She finds what she’s looking for in more ways than one, and it leads to great character development through the chemistry developing between the Matron and Agent 37.
Tim Seeley’s script has a great set of pacing with lots of subterfuge from all sides. An innocuous lollipop dropped on the floor turns into an opportunity to discover who Mr. Minos is when it’s scanned on a microscopic level. But it only reveals nanobots working to scrub Spyral headquarters of anything that comes from Minos’ body. Seeley also follows through on plots that move in parallel, connect, and then branch out again in a fashion fit for a comic about a former acrobat.
Mikel Janin’s artwork continues to thrive with panels stuffed with details that support the written conclusions. Take for example the issue’s mission, shown briefly with just one panel. Bertinelli and Grayson in matching wingsuits glide away from a downed giant aircraft as enemy agents follow with jetpacks. The smile on Dick’s goggled face says it all — we know it as the familiar face of Nightwing.
So when Bertinelli says, “Chase me,” it all makes sense, and for all of the grit and seriousness of the Bat Family books, it’s good to see so much smiling even though we know it won’t last long because of Grayson’s double agent status.
The colors by Jeromy Cox are strong, though it occasionally becomes too saturated — see the page with Apollo and Midnighter. The shading and tones give the character skins a plastic texture in some panels, but it isn’t a dealbreaker. The issue does benefit greatly from the lighting that adds tons of atmosphere to the story. With the students on Grayson’s trail, the cold windy night blowing through the girls’ hair and capes looks and feels the way it should.
Grayson is a title that should be on everyone’s radar. The writing is top notch with a planned storyline that doesn’t feel thrown together. Characters are being built, deconstructed, tested, and developed with precision that doesn’t ignore the past or deny the future. The art has personality, and the creative team as a whole seem like an ambitious lot who aren’t trying to squeeze another Bat Family book just for sales.
If and when Grayson goes back to being Nightwing, I don’t think this arc will take being swept under the rug gently. Readers will look back on these stories fondly and for good reason. With each new issue, Grayson proves he’s more than Batman’s former sidekick, and as a new reader myself who never jumped onto the Nightwing bandwagon, I’ve found myself waiting for the next issue to see him fly again.
Grayson #4 (2014)
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Words: Tim Seeley
Art: Mikel Janin
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual