Grayson #20 review

imageI love how the credits roll out like in a film, adding to the goofy B-movie feel.

Here we are: the end of the line.

The grand finale.*

Some third “this is the end” cliché.

The difficulty I’m having, as I have for the past few months, is reviewing this book as it is and not how I wish it would have been.  Given the early spoiler that Dick would don a costume once again, it’s been clear for some time that this title would have to wrap up quickly no matter who was writing it.  Even if it’s rushed, though, is it at least entertaining?

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Enh?  Inasmuch as its been goofy fun the past few months, it’s more of the same, but therein lies it’s biggest flaw: things get way too weird way too quickly only to be resolved just as fast. I think the record will show that I’m all for a comic where Dick Grayson has a mental battle with an evil Nazi scientist who turns into a giant spider, but the need to wrap things up quickly keeps Lanzing and Kelly from exploring anything with any depth.  There are a few emotional moments that ring true, along with the overall silliness of it all, but as the finale to such a great series it falls flat.

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Again, that’s hardly the writing team’s fault: taking over from such a beloved creative team is a thankless task and an uphill battle, and great as they are I’m not sure that King and Seeley would have done much different.  It may have felt a little more “like Grayson,” sure, but with the time-crunch the ending would have been rushed regardless.  Plus, this has been a book that has been great no matter what crossovers and events it’s involved in (Futures End is still a masterpiece, and the Robin War tie-in was one of the best), so not having it rise above its circumstances is a disappointment.

That said, there are details here that are pretty great.  There’s an exchange between Dick and Helena that’s absolutely brilliant:

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And although the Somnus technology is a pretty predictable giant reset button, I appreciate the restraint in introducing it early and dropping hints as to its function along the way as opposed to using it as an eleventh hour cheat.

I mean, it's still kind of a cheat, but at least they took their time with it.I mean, it’s still kind of a cheat, but at least they took their time with it.

That thing was introduced back in Batman & Robin Eternal, so I appreciate that they went less deus ex machina and more Chekhov’s gun in their approach.

This is also the best work Roge Antonio’s best work on the title, with tighter visuals, cleaner figures, and some great use of color from Jeromy Cox.  A good chunk of the issue takes place in Dick’s mind so there are some pretty surreal visuals (I wasn’t kidding about the giant spider), and Antonio and Cox pull it off nicely.

Where does this leave us?  What does the future hold for the cast?  Dick and Helena are returning to superheroics of course, so their paths are clear, but it’s Tiger whose future is up in the air.  As a newly-revealed agent of Checkmate there’s lots of storytelling potential there, but his last scene is kind of corny and left ambiguous as to where he’s headed next.  His chemistry with Dick was hilarious, so I’d love to see him pop up in Nightwing in the future, but we’ll just have to see.

Given that this book began as “awesome spy story exploring everything weird” and ended up “lead right back to Nightwing,” it should have ended better but it could have ended worse.  Faint praise, I know, but in the end, it was a great ride for such a different concept.

And hey, he’s still Dick Grayson.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

*Until the annual next month, which sounds crazy amazing.  Azrael, guys!  Azrael!

BONUS: In lieu of a variant cover, this month I wanted to share something I saw while driving around one day.

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That’s right: I found a street called Whitley Road.

Until next time, chums.

Recommended if: 

  • You’ve read the book so far.
  • You’ve wanted even some sort of closure.
  • You enjoy weird, goofy comic book stuff like Nazi mad scientists literal battles in the mind.
  • You’ve long awaited the return of Nightwing.

Overall: Ultimately, it’s fine.  Given the uphill battle this and other books have been fighting tinware storylines up, it could have been worse and my expectations weren’t so high as to be disappointed.  Still, seeing a book that was so consistently great no matter what was going on around it end on a lackluster note is a letdown.  The creative team did an admirable job of keeping everything fun and even somewhat coherent until the end, and ultimately Grayson was a great book through and through, I just wish it could have ended on its own terms.

SCORE: 5.5/10

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