Grayson #7: “Sin by Silence”

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Written by Tim Seeley and Tom King

Illustrated by Stephen Mooney

Colored by Jeromy Cox

Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual

Remember how last month I praised the creative team for their ability to start these stories in the thick of the action without things feeling bogged down and expository?  Sad to say, that’s not so much the case this issue.

Not to say that things don’t start off well, though.  Helena, alias Matron, is flying a Spyralcopter into Jordanian airspace to make it to the Tel-Aviv peace rally before any bloodshed starts, and she’s flanked by two Jordanian pilots.  There’s a neat bit where they get confused because of the hypnos she uses, and it’s mentioned that they won’t even remember ever seeing anything.

She’s also wearing a super-sweet flight helmet, too, but that’s neither here nor there.

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Also in attendance at the rally?  A few members of Metalocalypse.

That's definitely Nathan Explosion in the middle.
That’s definitely Nathan Explosion in the middle.

But that’s also neither here nor there.

The action switches between the peace rally and Dick held captive by the Gardener and Midnighter.  And really, these two concurrent threads could carry an issue by themselves; instead, things just happen way too quickly and there doesn’t really seem to be any tension whatsoever.

Usually I’m a huge fan of the writing on this book, but things just felt off this issue.  That may be because King had been scripting the past few issues and this one is handled by Seeley, but the pacing is just way too rushed with too many groaner lines (Minos makes a Lady Gaga reference that, even though we know nothing about this guy, just feels tacked on and out of nowhere).  Doubly sad because there are a few bits that are absolutely phenomenal: Dick refers to rollerskating with his “favorite redhead” which made me smile, Midnighter sings an impromptu ditty that had me rolling, and there’s a short speech Dick gives about his relationship with Batman that parallels and almost equals the brilliance of his observations about himself last issue.

The rest of the writing isn’t horrible by any means, but it feels like they may have rushed what was meant to be a two or three issue arc and crammed it into one issue so they could wrap up before Convergence hits.

At the end of the previous issue, Dick was aboard the God Garden, ready for some answers about this mysterious faction that Midnighter is allied with and the equally mysterious Gardener who seems to be in control of things.  Instead, absolutely nothing is revealed, and the state the Gardener is left in at the end of the issue takes away almost any menace or threat that this organization may have had.  We don’t need answers spoon-fed to us all the time, but that thread was resolved so quickly and was so anti-climactic that it’s a wonder they even went there at all.  Unless there’s a big reveal in the upcoming months about the true nature of this antagonist, it’s almost best if we forget about that brief excursion into space.

The main conflict of the issue, the use of the Brain to drive those at the peace rally to bloodshed, is handled a bit better, but is still resolved so easily that there’s hardly anything worth talking about.  Like the Gardener, the Fist of Cain turns out to be an almost non-threat from how easily they’re dispatched, which comes about in a panel that’s so jarring I had to reread the whole page a few times just to see if I’d missed something.

Spoiler
Director Minos appears from nowhere and shoots an old man who turns out to be the head of the Fist of Cain.  It doesn’t help matters that the biggest reaction it gets is pretty much a “huh?  Well, thanks.” from Helena.  This group was being built up as a major threat, but they’re effectively the band playing onstage at the rally and this crazy, cliche-spouting old guy.

Plus, Minos later says that there were no casualties when he obviously killed the dude, but he may have been referring to their team and the civilians.  Still, it was sloppy.

Not helping matters either are the pencils from Stephen Mooney.  There are some interesting layouts and some genuinely nice panels (Midnighter throwing a knife was particularly well done), but like the writing it felt rushed and sloppy.  Several characters were off-model and had some… interesting facial expressions, like these:

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And Dick looks confused the entire issue, which kind of takes away from his personality.

Seriously, I don't think that one eyebrow is lowered once.
Seriously, I don’t think that one eyebrow is lowered once.

The action isn’t handled very well, either.  Other than the aforementioned panel of Midnighter throwing a knife, the fights can pretty much be summed up with this panel:

Meme away, guys.
Meme away, guys.

There isn’t a good sense of movement, and everything feels stiff and awkward instead of engaging and thrilling.  I mean, it looks like that guy is doing a sweet flip off a skateboard instead of having his feet kicked out from under him.

Hopefully this issue was just a hiccup and we’ll be back on track next month.  This still stands as one of my favorite books on the stands, and the “Dick Grayson as a spy” conceit is still engaging, it just needs to be handled better than this.

Recommended if: 

  • You love Dick Grayson.
  • You love Metalocalypse?
  • The idea of Midnighter singing a little song intrigues you.
  • You’re willing to overlook clumsy writing and resolutions to get some great character moments.

Overall: The first outright misstep with this book, there were still a few great moments that made it worth reading.  Hopefully things will return to the normal level of excellence next month, and if you’re a new reader and this is your first issue, go back and start at the beginning.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

SCORE: 5.5/10

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