Grayson #14: “A Ghost From the Tomb Part 2”
Written by Tim Seeley and Tom King
Illustrated by Stephen Mooney
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual

Der ewige kreis.

The endless circle.

Ouroboros.

Strange that we should be given so much information and forward narrative momentum regarding an explanation that literally goes in circles.

Otto Netz, he of the weird bug-eye glasses and former Spyral/Leviathan mastermind, sets the record straight regarding his involvement in past dealings and his designs for the future.  This thread is the strongest part of this issue by far, made even more impressive considering there’s quite a bit of text and it’s laid out in a standard block grid.

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Unless you’re Dave Gibbons, that’s usually a no-no, but it actually works really well with the storytelling nature they’re going for.

Netz, it turns out, created Spyral out of fear of supermen.  When that organization spir… uh, went too far astray from his initial design, he created Leviathan so they would be in constant conflict.  It’s a pretty clever idea, an unending conflict that goes round and round due to one man having control of both sides.

Not so clever is… pretty much every scene with Dick, as much as I hate to say it.  Especially in the beginning of the issue, everything just falls flat: there’s a battle with some robotic spiders that just doesn’t have any energy, the jokes are painfully unfunny (there’s a hentai joke.  Yeah.), and it doesn’t help that Maxine, or “Ladytron” as Tiger calls her, reminds me of a cybernetic Harper Row.  Not a good thing.

Even Tiger’s grouchiness and insulting asides toward Dick fail to land.  It pains me to say it, but this is not one of Tim Seeley’s better scripts.

Things look up a bit when Dick knocks Tiger out (again) so he can “go rogue” and get some information for himself.  He uses his Hypnos to lull Maxine into a hypnotized state so he can link her up with a mainframe, then rips them out of his eyes so he can’t be observed.  It’s pretty brutal, but there is a pretty good laugh when he tries the “broken drive-thru speaker” trick to keep Helena from asking questions.

Stephen Mooney does some of his best work on this title this issue, utilizing the basic grid set up to heighten tension and up the creepiness factor.

This sequence in particular was pretty unsettling:

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The dialogue, coupled with his hands tracing the Ouroboros, gives this page more momentum and energy than some of the action sequences.  It sounds like a back-handed compliment, but these quieter moments are truly effective in how unsettling they are.  I mean, the detail on his cracked fingernails is enough on its own, but speaking so nonchalantly about mass murder and genocide?  Yeesh.

His facial expressions, which have been… questionable in the past, are remarkably strong here.  I didn’t even notice Helena’s smirk here until my second read through.

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Nice and subtle.  That’s some good “acting.”

Like the previous issue, this story ends on an anticlimax: there’s a bit of build-up with Netz’s plans to pretty much put his brain in a younger body, thereby going full-on mad scientist; Kat Kane has a few lines, as does Midnighter (oh yeah, remember how Midnighter was kind of involved?); then Dick tells Tiger they need to take down Spyral and everyone involved.  It’s… pretty abrupt, and even though we knew it would eventually come it deserved a bit more context than what’s given here.

Ah well.  See you next month for Robin War!

BONUS: This is the best variant cover in the world.

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I wanted to read that book this month.

Heck, I want to read that book every month.

Recommended if:

  • You’re curious about Otto Netz’s history.
  • You realize that even a mediocre issue of Grayson is still worth it on its own terms.
  • You want to know how Porky Pig figures in the plot. (SPOILER:
    Spoiler
    He doesn’t.  Unless he’s secretly the third Netz sister…
    )

Overall: A rare misfire, there’s still enough here to enjoy on a storytelling level.  I genuinely loved every single scene Otto was in, as his crazy mad scientist schtick fits perfectly with the weird spy antics of this book, and Dick’s story did get progressively better as the issue went on.  Still, it’s not great, and I really hate being harsh to this book as it’s usually the best book DC puts out.  That cover sure is super-weird, though, right?

SCORE: 5.5/10