Grayson #2 comes at you like a whirlwind —things are spyraling out of control. Issue #1 started fairly strong and I liked what I read, so I went into this issue with some hope. What we get is a mix of backstory, a little action, some emotional insight, and a whole lot of info that may or may not be pertinent to our understanding of future issues.
The issue opens at St. Hadrian College for girls. The inscription below the sign reads, “No cycles, dogs, radios or picnics.” Dick, this means you with your hidden talk-to-Batman radio. Helena is an instructor teaching crossbow (of course) when Hood, an agent of Spyral, makes an appearance sparking a quest for Helena and Dick. Meanwhile back at the batcave…err…God Garden, Midnighter, looking more like Batman than ever, broods about his fight with Dick wondering why he couldn’t remember his face. He declares that his next fight with him is going to be bad…for Dick.
The mission for Helena and Dick is strange. The whole mechanics of it, the way it’s told, what they are after, who they encounter, it’s all very odd. Dick acts jolly and free like we know him to be, but his voicing seems forced, saying things that reference himself as if we, the readers, have no idea who he is. “C’mon Helena. You read my file. I was a trapeze artist. I grew up in the circus.” That’s probably just a nit pick but c’mon, we know Dick. There are, however, at least two direct James Bond references this issue that made me laugh.
I understand there are certain techniques in comics that are very effective for good story telling. The time-jump technique where you skip ahead in the story and then tell what led up to that is a good way to make a story fun to read. Tease you a bit. Make you think. Last week’s Justice League used this and it worked well. In the course of four pages the story jumps ahead, back, and ahead again. I thought I skipped a page at first, it was kind of confusing. It’s a good technique that was squelched by its use in such a small space. However, the actual story with what happened and all, it too was strange. We’re hit in the face with quite a bit of speculative information. I took the liberty of writing down some of the more interesting nouns that were mentioned this issue in the spoiler tags. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is a lot of people/things that might confuse some readers. I should mention one could have no idea about the following list and still be able follow the general story line.
- St. Hadrian’s College
- Choker, Puncher, Drowner, and Cycles of Violence (Batman’s foes, doubt we’ll need to remember these guys… or should we?)
- God Garden
- Biomech Digestive Processor
- Ghost Dragons
- Dr. Poppy Ashemoore
- Clas Myrddin
- Big Crunch
The Dick/Helena relationship is explored a little further this issue. She likes to be in control, talks kind of stiff, is a quick thinker, and will do what she must to complete a Spyral mission. I foresee a great divide between them, or at the very least a clash. That sounds promising to me.
This series is rooted in the Batman mythos. In fact, it’s under Batman group editor Mark Doyle, and this issue conspicuously reminds us of that. The moments between Mr. Malone (Batman) and Birdwatcher (Dick) made this issue for me. I won’t ruin those moments for you, just suffice it to say, they are the strongest parts of this story. If you have any love for Dick at all, you’ll perhaps feel the same.
- You enjoyed last issue, but wanted to sink your espionage teeth in further.
- You didn’t want Dick to be “dead”.
- You want to see a lot of Helena’s stern face.
- “Tsuchigumo” puts you to sleep.
A good formula is carving itself in the pages of Grayson. A quart of mission, two cups of mystery, a tablespoon of big themes, and a dash of Batman has the potential for something truly special. At this point, I don’t think anyone would call it a hit yet, but it has my attention. There are a few fumbles here and there but nothing to lose your mind over. If you were worried this series had nothing to do with Batman or Dick’s past life, may this issue be a little reassuring for you.