Grayson #8: “Cross my Heart and Hope to Die”
Written by Tom King and Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Michael Janín
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Letters by Carlos M. Mangual

Now this… this is more like it.

The worst thing about this issue is that it flies by. It’s so exciting and the pacing is so on point that you’ll be finished before you realize it, your head reeling from what just happened and desperately waiting for June to get here.

One of the things I love most about this book is that the creative team aren’t afraid to use unique storytelling techniques, favoring nonlinear plots, framing devices, and parallel events over by-the-numbers breakdowns.

Right out of the gate this issue is a thrill ride, and considering the first few pages are almost entirely dialogue that’s impressive. We have two separate conversations running concurrently: one with Minos talking to an unknown woman in a cafe, and another with Minos speaking with Helena. In the former, he reveals that he’s been a part of Spyral specifically to take it down from the inside, and when asked if he’s worried that this organization will come after him for spilling its secrets, he says he isn’t. It’s pretty cold-blooded, perfectly lining up with his arrogance and the air of smugness he exudes.  It’s made even more so in the parallel conversation with Helena where he discusses the time she shot the man she thought was Dick simply because Minos told her to, and then he shoots her himself.

Keep in mind, this is just the first two pages of the book. The action moves along at such a furious pace that things could have easily been rushed or muddled, but the confident storytelling of King, Seeley and Janín ensures that not one bit of dialogue or illustration is wasted.

There’s a momentary dose of levity with Dick teaching a gym class and his schoolgirl fan club discussing Jim and Juan, which are their names for his… gluteus muscles.

Yeah.

Jim’s the right one, for the record.

Anyway, following that and an innuendo about the Eiffel Tower that’s so blatant I’m kind of surprised it made it into a comic book at all (until I remembered literally every other comic starring Dick Grayson, that is), Helena is brought to Dick who immediately rushes off to find Minos.

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That pumped me up so much I just ate three whole steaks, rebuilt my car’s engine, and wrestled a grizzly. Twice.

What follows, and takes up most of the remaining narrative, is a beautifully choreographed fight between Dick, Agent 1, Minos, and Amaz… err, “Paragon,” who has the powers of the Justice League.

Side note: Dick previously fought a Paragon in Nightwing, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be the same guy. Minos mentions that he’s newly reassembled, but nothing beyond that and that he’s powered by the organs they were on the hunt for is explained. A brief search on the DC Wiki reveals there was a Paragon in the Eighties with the ability to replicate the Justice League’s powers, but he wasn’t able to make Lantern constructs. Looks like he got an upgrade. The more you know, right?

Paragon, aka not this guy.
Paragon, aka not this guy.

As usual, Janín’s layouts are absolutely gorgeous, with lots of movement and energy in his effective use of double-splash pages. The dialogue, scripted once again by King this month, is snappy as usual, with Dick even dropping a “holy _____, Batman” that isn’t the least bit groan worthy.

Had this issue ended a page earlier than it did, I probably would have thrown it across the room in frustration… which would have been bad because I read it on my iPad. Instead, what we’re led to think is a clichéd villainous plot is actually just another piece in an even larger puzzle. The ending, which I won’t discuss at all, is genuinely shocking and, admittedly, somewhat frustrating, but that’s due more to the fact that the answers we’re given just lead to more questions.

A whole new player has entered the game, opening up brand new storytelling possibilities for Dick, Helena, and the rest of Spyral. Time will tell just how big this is going to get and how deep the rabbit hole goes, but if we get more issues like this then I’m glad I’m along for the ride.

Bonus: check out this variant cover.  Amazing.

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Recommended if: 

  • You just like good comics.
  • You like great art and writing.
  • Dick Grayson is your hero.
  • Butt nicknames are your thing, I guess?

Overall: An incredibly strong, fast-paced issue of one of the better comics on the stands today.  It has everything that makes this book great in spades, and some new doors are opened for future installments and mysteries.

SCORE: 9/10