By: Tim Seeley & Tom King (story), Mikel Janín (art), Jeromy Cox (colors)

The Story: Grayson—Dick Grayson.

The Review: I’m no comic book history expert, so I can’t tell you about the actual origin of superheroes according to such niceties as facts. But I like to believe that among their closest ancestors is the spy. The idea of a person meting justice while living an apparently normal life is such an integral part of both that it’s not hard to think of them as arising from a common nucleus. So if one decides costumed vigilantism isn’t one’s thing, spywork seems like a natural alternative.

It’s thus not entirely surprising to find Dick muttering into earpieces and adopting codenames now that his public outing has made being Nightwing impossible. Besides, playing secret agent seems right up his alley. Not only is he more than qualified, skill-wise, he’s got the daredevil charm that’s so essential to the modern spy. As he dons a blond wig,* tries out his Russian, and acts out the douchey American tourist to perfection, you can tell that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself, so maybe you should, too.

You’d have a very different attitude toward the issue if Dick seemed meek or awkward in his new career, although he’s far from fully committed to the job. He makes it clear he knows that Spyral is probably up to no good, despite claims of wanting to protect the world from “meta bio-weapon[s],” more commonly known in the DCU as metahumans. Not to worry; anyone who read Forever Evil #7 knows working for Spyral is just another Bat-mission, so any moral compromises—and you doubt, with Dick, there will be many or of serious nature—are for an obviously greater good.

Anyway, if Dick had to infiltrate any spy agency, you’re glad it’s Spyral, another one of those intriguing leftover ideas from a Grant Morrison project. Seeley-King expand on the basic concept by giving Spyral agents, including Dick, some very cool tools to carry out their work: Hypnos, allowing an otherwise normal human to pull off Jedi mind tricks, and identity protection implants that prevent a Spyral agent from appearing in either technological or personal memory. Most importantly, Seeley-King clearly establish Spyral’s mission statement without giving it an over moral character: “With godhood must come transparency.” Spyral’s taking dead aim at the superheroes’ secret identities; we’ll see if they use it for good or evil.

That godhood line comes from Mr. Minos, head of Spyral, a strangely amiable man despite his unsettling lack of face. Minos’ ambiguous motivations and identity give him the strongest impression of all of Grayson‘s supporting characters. Lead scientist Frau Netz, daughter of the evil Otto Netz, demonstrates her inherited genius but otherwise shows no personality in the issue, while Helena Bertinelli, Dick’s partner, supervisor, and almost positively romantic interest, fulfills her archetypical role of femme fatale by being equal parts brusque and sexy.

Janín proves quite adept at a grounded adventure, which is perhaps not entirely surprising given how his Justice League Dark work tended to be too straightforward for a mystical series. Janín’s enthusiasm for Grayson is apparently in every page, from Dick’s devil-may-care expressions to his many wildly implausible acrobatics. I used to have a slight prejudice against Janín’s art, feeling it was a bit too modeled and static, but I’m happy to say Janín has tempered that quality a great deal for this series. While Cox’s choice of colors is great, a hippie spectrum of rose-pinks, bar-blues, cabaret violets that call to mind the heyday of sixties spy thrillers, their constant changes in the backgrounds is somewhat distracting, especially during Dick’s fight with Midnighter.**

Conclusion: Only Dick, among all the Bat-characters, can fully pull off the secret agent look, and Seeley-King- Janín make him look good doing it.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * And how glad are we that it’s only a wig?

** Dick is completely unruffled by Midnighter’s sudden entrance and gritty personality. “I know your type,” he says. Yeah he does.

– “Лучшиe друзъя навсегда!” For those interested, that’s “Best friends forever!” in Russian. Now, if only I knew how to pronounce it. Any Russian speakers in the house?

– As for “идиот,” that translates to idiot. And here I was hoping it was a really bad word I could add to my collection of foreign curses.