Grayson Annual #3 review

Grayson Annual 3

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Agent 37 is back for one four last final adventures before he makes his long-awaited return as Nightwing.  Now, I know that Grayson didn’t end the way most of us wanted it to, but at least it was an enjoyable ride up to the very end.  Lanzing and Kelly team up one last time to send Agent 37 off, and from the get-go this annual is just trying to be an enjoyable read, nothing more.

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If they’re willing to go the self-effacing route just to say this isn’t supposed to be epic or world-changing, just aiming to be some solid fun, I’m willing to go along for the ride.

When Harley Quinn, Green Lantern Simon Baz (?), Azrael, and John Constantine (?!) find themselves waiting in a mysterious room for an even more mysterious summoner… this totally sounds like the set-up for a joke, but I promise it’s what really happens.  Anyway, once they’ve gathered in “room 237,” they are soon joined by the man who called on them: Jim Corrigan of the GCPD, human host of the Spectre.  Corrigan, as it turns out, is investigating a man of great risk to international security, a man everyone in the room has met even though they’ve forgotten his face. So, to get to the bottom of this mystery, the quartet are invited to share their stories.  It’s an old storytelling technique, but effective when it works well, as it does here.

So yeah, it’s pretty much Rashômon with Batman characters.  I’ll take two.

The first to tell his tale?  John Constantine.

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You no doubt know Constantine by name at the very least, but if you don’t know what he’s like as a character, here’s literally the second thing he does in his story:

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Now that we’re all on the same page, John encounters Grayson while investigating some missing young men in a nondescript town of an uncertain geographical location.

Considering he effectively encounters Dracula, though, it’s totally Transylvania.

Vampires: preying on the innocent, purveying Vampires: preying on the innocent, purveying absolutely wretched culinary jokes.

Yes, Dick has been captured by a vampire (rendered with a fantastic Nosferatu-esque design by Natasha Altareci)  and his “wife-daughters,” and Constantine is too late to save him from being bitten.  So Dick is totally a vampire now.

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Ok, the Hypnos.  Little nanomachines that can do pretty much whatever the story calls for, right?  Well, they can apparently ignite the undead and burn them up and I guess prevent vampirism?  I don’t know, it’s John’s story.  Who knows how much is meant to be taken literally?  It’s best not to think about it too much and just move on.

Rolling Butt Comment Counter: 1

Next up: Azrael.  12-year-old me is super excited about this.

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A remarkably well-written parable, Azrael’s tale finds Dick infiltrating Khortamor, a village in Kahndaq, all while decked out in a pretty killer wingsuit.

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The village is being raided by agents of St. Dumas, with Azrael caught in the middle protecting the villagers with a combination of his sweet fire sword and dramatic platitudes.

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Dick is in search of the Abraxas Stone, a mythical artifact used as a “conduit of communication with the realms of Pleroma,” so you know it’s serious.  Being the selfless guy he is, though, Dick gets involved in the scuffle and assists Valley in protecting the villagers.  The dialogue here is actually pretty great, and the art from Duce and Lopes looks fantastic as well.

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There’s some good chemistry between the two, and great observations from Azrael about Dick’s character.  It’s a nice, solid read.

Then Dick and Azrael take out a giant mech, and if they hadn’t already they just won our hearts.

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Four stars.

Rolling Butt Comment Counter: 1

After Azrael comes Harley, with:

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I’ll be frank, and you can still be Garth: I like Harley, but only in small doses.   She’s fine as an antagonist, a comedic foil, or as part of an ensemble or duo, but as a lead she’s hit or miss.  This little heist story is pretty fun and definitely leans toward being a hit, even if it’s pretty lean and uneventful.

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It’s all pretty straightforward: both Harley and Dick are at a party, separately preparing to case the joint, only to end up joining forces so they can retrieve the item they’ve been sent for.  Flaviano’s illustrations are nice and lively with some vibrant colors from Cox, and the script is snappy if ultimately unmemorable.  If you think of the issue like a television clip show, this is the one that isn’t anybody’s favorite but gets an “oh yeah!” and a chuckle when it’s mentioned.  Fluff, but harmless fluff.

Rolling Butt Comment Counter: 1.5

Giving it a half point for this line:

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Finally, the one I was looking forward to the most, Simon Baz’s story.

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I’m mostly familiar with Baz through the new Green Lanterns title, where he and Jessica Cruz take the “buddy cop movie” approach to their roles as the newest Lanterns for Sector 2814.  As such, I don’t know Baz that well and was looking forward to reading more about him, and this didn’t disappoint.

Baz is confronted by Dick during a rash of Parademon attacks, and the two team up to follow the trail of one of the escaped creatures.

Hey, super tough grannies can only do so much.

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It’s a fine adventure: there’s some good action and creative use of Dick’s acrobatic skills, and some nice dialogue where Dick teaches Baz about being a hero without talking down to him.  Like the other stories, there’s not a whole lot to it, but it’s enjoyable enough.

No butt jokes either, so bonus.

Final Rolling Butt Comment Tally: 1.5

The interstitial story ends predictably, but it was the way it needed to conclude.  There’s a pretty big laugh from Baz in there as well, so even if the story ultimately lacked surprises it had an abundance of charm.  This issue may not be more than a fun time, but it certainly is just that: a good read, a great time, and one last jaunt with Agent 37.

Recommended if:

  • You like Grayson.
  • You wanted there to be a little more of a definitive ending for the series.
  • You like any or all of the guest stars.

Overall: An enjoyable romp, plain and simple.  The stories were fun, if inconsequential, and it was nice seeing Agent 37 one last time.  Frankly, the best I can say about this annual is that Grayson #20 was a good beginning for Nightwing, while this issue is a good ending for the book Grayson.  We may not see the spy antics of Dick ever again, but there’s certainly a sense of closure this time around.

SCORE: 7.5/10

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