Grayson #11: “Nemesis Part 3”
Written by Tom King and Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Mikel Janín
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual

Grayson oozes style, much like its leading man. Each page is dripping with intrigue, the tension is always high, and each page flies by until you get to the resolution or, more often, the cliffhanger. Even lesser issues, of which there are few, still have great individual moments most comics would beg for and serve an ultimately greater purpose.

The eleventh issue, which wraps up the current arc and lays the groundwork for bigger things in the coming months, is another perfect example of how gripping this book can be. The only problem I’m having with it, and it’s a good problem to have, is if it’s a great issue in its own right or if it’s the part of a greater whole. Even as of this writing I’m still not totally sure if I really loved this issue or just simply loved it, so let’s discuss the matter.

Picking up where things where we left off, Agent 1 is about to be killed by “Dick.” We know it isn’t him, of course, but nobody else does. Plus, after the way Dick treated him in the ninth installment Tiger probably isn’t too surprised by this apparent betrayal.

Luckily, just before the killing blow can be struck, another escrima comes flying from nowhere and distracts the assailant.

Also distracting: another butt joke, but this is one I can totally get behi… appreciate for its humor.

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What follows, and lasts for the bulk of the duration of the book, is a beautifully rendered fight scene that also serves as a game of psychological warfare between the two Graysons.

True to his character, Dick starts mocking his impostor, trying to annoy them so he can gain the upper hand.  First he thinks this is Clayface, as it’s such an obvious ploy he’s seen before, and laments that it’s never someone like Killer Croc.  A few of these lines read a little clunky at first, truth be told, but the more he kept badgering his doppelgänger the funnier it got.

The impostor, who we’ll call Dickzarro no wait that’s terrible.  How about just not-Dick?  That’s… slightly better, I guess…

Anyway, not-Dick eventually breaks Dick’s defenses down when they catch him off guard with some very personal questions.  For all they’ve done to prove just how secure he is in his identity, it was great to see King and Seeley give Dick some vulnerability that didn’t feel tacked on.  Instead, they play off his loneliness in his mission and desire to be with his loved ones again, even though he can’t.  It’s rather heartbreaking and very well done, and his mental turmoil is visualized perfectly in the always amazing work of Janín and Cox.

Spoiler

[caption id="attachment_22468" align="alignnone" width="833"]image This was also a massive pain to read on a mobile device.[/caption]

Their contest ends when Dick is incapacitated by his trigger word, and what follows is a scene that’s at once hilarious and absolutely brutal.

Spoiler
Tiger regains consciousness and, so they will have no way to trick him, rips his Hypnos implants out of his eyes.  It’s pretty hardcore, but in their debriefing he also lets off a line about his arm hurting because “some idiot” threw an escrima at it while he was under, so it evens out.

Naturally, after that he’s able to see who the assailant really is, and props to the team for delivering a shocker that I genuinely didn’t see coming.  Once you know it’s easy to read back and piece it together, but upon revelation it’s a genuine surprise.  This also adds yet another layer of intrigue to the book, and coupled with the epilogue (well, the last one) should lead to some very interesting stories in the future.

Three separate epilogues cap off the issue, and while the first two really aren’t that spoilery, I’ll still discuss them in tags.

Spoiler
The first, as noted before, is the mission debriefing between Tiger, Dick, and Helena.  Most interesting is the fact that Tiger outright lies about the identity of the attacker, instead pinning the blame on Maxwell Lord of Checkmate.  This will no doubt lead to some clashes between the agencies, which I’m looking forward to.

Here, Dick also quits, which leads to the second epilogue where he tries calling home one last time.  Like his previous attempts, it’s heartbreaking and has some of the best lines of the issue.

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Finally, we get a brief scene between Agent 8 and Doctor Netz.  Most of their dialogue is cryptic, but it does confirm that Tiger was seeing who he thought he was seeing.  It’s also interesting to hear Netz conspiring the way she does, as up until now she’s been a background character at best.

Fun fact: The final panel is a shot of the Capitoline Wolf, the statue depicting Romulus and Remus being nursed by a wolf.  There are so many ways to interpret that symbolism that I could spend another thousand words on it, so instead I’ll just say that within ten minutes of finishing the issue I read this Game of Thrones theory that references the exact same statue.  True story.

After thinking about it, I flat out love this issue.  It may not stand on its own quite as well as some other issues, but it has everything that makes this book great: the writing, characterization, and artwork are some of the best in the business, the tone is perfect, and it’s smart without being pretentious or condescending.  This arc is all the stronger for this issue, and I’m anticipating great things from what has been set up in these pages.

Recommended if: 

  • You love Dick Grayson.
  • You love great action, dialogue, and intrigue.
  • You’re a fan of espionage and spy fiction.
  • This may be the best main-continuity book DC is publishing right now, so jump in if you haven’t already.

Overall: A masterclass of everything that makes a comic great, King, Seeley, Janín, and Cox could probably phone it in and still have a semi-quality product.  Thankfully, the story of Dick Grayson continues in a book that is fun, exciting, tense, and even heartbreaking.  Things manage to stay fresh while still true to the character, and tie in to the larger universe without getting bogged down in continuity.  Read this book.

SCORE: 9.5/10