First, let’s get this out of the way:
There, now that I’ve followed in the footsteps of all my fellow reviews (who you would swear were all fourteen year olds), let’s talk about Dick Grayson as an Agent of Spyral, but really an Agent of the Bat. After the, frankly rocky, start that was Nightwing #30, have the team of Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox and Carlos Mangual turn this premise around?
Well, let me put it to you this way: this is the most fun I’ve had with Dick Grayson in quite a while.
Okay, this issue serves as a very good introduction to the series premise in a mostly done-in-one tale. It starts with a very distilled back story on Dick Grayson reminiscent of the first page of Morrison/Quietly’s All-Star Sueprman that shows our protagonist from Acrobat to Corpse and then finally to spy as Grayson and his mentor/partner in Spyral, the revamped Helena Bertinelli, as they are boarding a train to acquire a high-value target, but they are not the only ones.
I want to give credit to Janin and Cox here. Because not only do they showcase Dick’s acrobatic skills fantastically, but they also make him look like an acrobat. That is a tiff I have with people that draw Dick sometimes, they make him too bulky. Acrobat muscle is not bulky. The kind of energy that one must have to perform such skills is clear in every action scene, whether it is against a Russian spy on top of a train or against the Midnighter, a character that came over to the DC universe.
Also, before you raise your pitchforks for the lack of Gratuitous Dick Grayson Butt Shots, Janin and Cox bring on the abtastic sexy. Also, why must you objectify the male form, comics industry?!
It’s not just the high flying fun action in this book though. Seeley and King have shown that… Spyral… they’re not exactly the Justice League. The use of mind erosion, brainwashing and other such tactics brings up some pretty damning implications to start, but their new goal is pretty sketchy as well. Seeing someone as good-hearted as Dick have to interact and co-operate with this very shady people is very interesting.
There are two things that I can criticize on this issue. The first, kind of minor one, is Helena. There is very little we know about her so far and one scene near the end made me a little iffy about her possibly just ending up as a love interest to Dick. But being that issue #2 is supposed to go into more detail about Bertenelli’s past, I’m hoping that this bullet can be dodged. The other one is the Midnighter. For those of you not in the know how, the Midnighter was Wildstorm’s Batman. While I get seeing him fight Dick in this makes sense, it, for me, just continues to highlight how the Wildstorm characters, especially Stormwatch/The Authority really are redundant and have little place in the main DC Universe.
Those two are just very minor things though. There was a lot of fear at this move and a lot of cynicism (Hell, when it was first announced, I thought DC was trying to cash in on the Winter Soldier). But Seeley, King, Janin, Cox, and Mangual have crafted a very fun issue of what one would expect of a character like Dick Grayson as a spy. I’m all on board.