Batman Family Review: Nightwing Grayson #2 By Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janín, Guillermo Ortego and Juan Castro

Editor’s note: Review by Paul Miranda.

GRAYSON #2 Review

“Gut Feelings”

Story by: Tim Seeley
Plot by: Tim Seeley and Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janín, Guillermo Ortego, and Juan Castro
Colors by: Jeromy Cox
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Covers by: Mikel Janín, Phil Jimenez, and Jeromy Cox
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

“The name’s Grayson. Dick Grayson.” Before I continue, I just want to say I truly had no idea that there’d be a reference to Sir Ian Fleming! Page 7. Am I prophetic or what?!? Not to brag but I was thinking of a snazzy way to start this review. Thanks for stealing my thunder, Tim Seeley!

On to the heart of the matter (or should I say “stomach”?) Those who have read this issue already know to what I’m referring. Look at the title of the story for a clever indicator. This issue definitely delivers on action, intrigue, and tension!! Tim Seeley seamlessly weaves all story threads in a straight line. Despite the typical subplots and ‘moving on to the next scene’, everything advances without any choppiness or forced elements.

The story begins and ends the same way, completing the cycle for this particular issue — Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. Matron teaching the girls of St. Hadrian’s Finishing School (a Grant Morrison creation) how to fire a crossbow. The plot advances immediately as The Hood (from Batman, Inc. another nod to Morrison) lands on the ground injured. Something or someone powerful has knocked the sails out of him.

Dick plays the double agent as ‘Birdwatcher’ communicating intel to Batman’s ‘Mr. Malone’ whenever he possibly can. Bruce gets a little ‘soft’ here by telling Dick that his funeral was “nice”. This leads Dick to ask about Alfred (‘The Butler’) and Barbara (‘Red Riding Hood’). Neat little nicknames they all have for each other. Bats gets serious again by reminding Dick that the line becomes less secure the longer they are on the line. Warm fuzzies all around as father and son bond miles apart.

Allusions abound when Helena and Dick are debriefed on their next mission by the mysterious Mr. Minos who describes himself as “The Man with the Labyrinth Face”. He’s the one who refers to Fleming (creator of James Bond, for those of you in the dark). A bit of campiness emerges when he tells the agents that “It’s fun to play spy.” Helena and Dick are to retrieve a biomech digestive processor colloquially known as an ‘enhanced stomach’ in an unassuming and rather boring town on the English countryside. Dick continues the Bond reference when he tells Helena that he was hoping the Spyral-Mobile (yes, you heard that correctly) would be more Aston Martin. Free plug!!

I’m trying to figure out if Helena really hates Grayson or has an attraction/admiration for him. Being a spy, she plays it cool by shutting down Agent 37’s innuendo. She also snubs his laissez-faire attitude for the mission. Dick reassures her and retaliates by saying “There’s one very important lesson you learn about performers. The bigger they smile for the audience, the more dangerous the stunt.” Talk about a 360!! Helena takes down Dick and knocks him out after a super-powered menace who has the ‘stomach’ kicks his ass. This person in question (Dr. Ashemoore) is recruited by Helena to join Spyral. The final ‘blow’ to Dick’s ego is when the first page replays. Helena repeats her spiel to her students and knows that Dick is watching. Was Dick there just to observe, try to take her down, or warm up to her? Who knows?

Some levity is brought in with Birdwatcher’s next report to Mr. Malone. Dick reminisces about when he, Bruce, Babs, and Alfred spent an afternoon in a park and Alfred’s toupee was messed up by the wind with nary a comment from the others. Batman laughs at the memory. SHOCKER!! Batman laughs?!? That can’t be right!

Although Tim wrote the issue, it’s evident that Tom King is the major influence here. Both men effortlessly mesh spy fiction with action, dialogue, humor, mystery, and suspense. Real-life factoid: Tom King used to work for the CIA. *gasp* I’m more impressed by this issue than #1.

Mikel Janín’s profile becomes higher after illustrating Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons (purposely planned?) and a stint on Justice League Dark. His characters are all lean but still ‘meaty’. The bigger characters like Batman and Midnighter are not too buff or ‘beefy’. I really like seeing the former Robin and Nightwing unmasked. He captures Dick’s face perfectly (as well as Helena’s) when they are in the Spyral-Mobile. [page 8, panel 4] Jeromy Cox’s colours are appropriate for the various settings — nice and bright for the prep school, the miserable downpour in Farmington, Leicester, and the blue blurriness when Dick tries to take down the ‘stomach’. The spiral motif plays predominantly from Agent 37’s unrevealed face on camera, to Mr. Minos’ own visage to the background effect when Helena utters the post-hypnotic suggestion to take down Dick.

Apologies for the long review but it’s ssssoooo superb!!

Activate code 9.5 to access intel.

Here are some extras to add, given how chock-full this issue was:

Subplot #1:

Mr. Minos is determined to learn what makes heroes tick. He definitely has his sights on The Flash revealed to be Barry Allen. Does he want to take down all of the heroes or recruit them?

Subplot #2:

Midnighter. It’s a curious thing indeed to throw in an analogue of the Dark Knight into a series like this. What can a sci-fi character (from Stormwatch) want from Spyral? Also, he is extremely adamant in taking down Agent 37 whom he calls a “distraction”. He further vents his frustration when the tech at his disposal can’t make out an image of Agent 37’s face. Similar to Mr. Minos, no?

Allusions:

  • (a) The Butler (referring to Alfred). Cliché enough?
  • (b) Little Red Riding Hood (referring to Babs/Batgirl). Innocent enough?
  • (c) Dick does dialect — “Av gor rit” and “Ahm dead fit”
  • (d) A.R.G.U.S., Checkmate, Ghost Dragons — clandestine organizations everywhere!
  • (e) Deathstroke [as a painted target] — foreshadowing?
  • (f) T.H.E.Y. — new spy cell in the New 52. Three guesses as to what it stands for.
  • (g) merenda — Greek word for Nutella.
  • (h) Dick mentions James Brown — coincidence for the current biopic?
  • (i) porca vacca — Italian for “pig” and “cow”. However, as slang it means “Holy cow”, “Dammit”, “Crap!”, “Damn” or your choice of expletives.
  • (j) tsuchigumo — Japanese for “dirt spider”. It’s a historical derogatory term for renegade local clans. Also the ‘shutdown word’ for Dick. HHHHMMM, does Spyral know about Dick’s real intentions?

Fave quote:

“Still a mystery wrapped in an enigma with a weird accent, and a face that I can only remember as looking sort of like a swirl lollipop.” (refering to Mr. Minos)

Interesting items:

  • 1. The Hood is also known as Agent 24. How many agents are there? Dick is already #37.
  • 2. A new villain is introduced — a motorcyclist who’s part of a group known as The Cycles of Violence. He makes reference to members Choker, Drowner, and Puncher.

Tags: , , ,