What kind of superhero has no powers?
In Grayson #5, Dick Grayson survives a grueling 10-day trek through a desert, fighting off temptation and doubt.
After crash-landing somewhere in Saudi Arabia after an airfight with A.R.G.U.S., Grayson, a wounded Helena Bertinelli (Matron), and the Midnighter transport precious cargo — a newborn baby with a special heart.
As the sun blazes, days pass. With each step, Bertinelli bleeds out, the Midnighter becomes more brash about sacrificing the child for survival, and Grayson carries on towards a meaningful finish.
While Tim Seeley’s Grayson issues have focused more on the action and lighter aspects of the character and his association with Spyral, Tom King’s episodes have taken a more personal approach, taking a deeper look into Grayson’s motivations and reason for being. With Grayson #5, King contrasts Dick’s resourcefulness and self-sacrificing heroism against the Midnighter’s practicality and negative attitude. In the end, Dick proves he’s the real superhero — not because of any particular powers. The proof is in the determination and desire to do what’s right in the face of what’s convenient.
The Grayson title continues to prove its worth with meaningful storytelling that’s complemented by some really great art by Mikel Janin. If you’ve merely skimmed through the book, you might not agree with my assessment of the visuals — after all, the majority of the story takes place with very little background due to its non-descript location. And while it’s easy to judge art based on how much detail an artist stuffs into a panel, in the case of Grayson #5, Janin focuses on telling the story through character expression, panel composition, and highlighting the monotony of walking 10 days in a sand pit.
In terms of expressions, Janin ably shows what kind of turmoil Grayson and crew go through. Knowing the odds, Midnighter argues for survival. It’s likely Dick knows what kind of steep climb they’re in for, and the hardness in his face shows he’s set in his ways — he won’t turn his back on the mission or the child. Janin’s composition of scenes plays with the empty spaces by highlighting distance — the amount of walking the characters do and the differences in characters — and by playing with movement. Using panels to break up the environment and moving the characters within the frames help carry King’s story closer to its conclusion.
Jeromy Cox’s colors also provide plenty of textures for the desert sand along with beautiful arrays of color for the sky. Each page has an overlay of colors with an intent on keying our minds to specific modes. Varying shades of red tell us it’s getting hotter, while the the cool darkness of night opens up a conversation revealing Midnighter’s dark intentions.
Grayson #5 is a needle-sharp issue that conveys the message. While it might not be the most exciting book on shelves for DC’s lineup this month, it shouldn’t be overlooked. The Grayson title excels where it matters most — character and story. With a foundation like that, everything else seems more meaningful and weighted.
Go, Grayson, go.
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