Well, I did an article on the release of Grayson, so I guess it’s appropriate that I examine its first issue.
“But wait,” you cry, “Isn’t this the last issue of Dick Grayson’s last series?”
“No,” I reply, “This is very much the first issue of his new series, in spite of the name and numbering.”
If you want some semblance of closure to the New 52 Nightwing series, then you’re getting no more of it than issue #29 (which was an exquisite love letter to Dick’s character, so at least it was good closure). Like Justice League United #0 should have just been issue #1, this should have just been Grayson #0.
This over-sized issue is split into three parts, with art split among Javier Garrón, Jorge Lucas and the team of Mikel Janin and Guillermo Ortego with Jeromy Cox coloring the entire issue. Part One takes place in The Democratic Republic of Congo as a group terrorists known as “Die Faust Der Kain” (The Fist of Cain) attack a refugee camp. It should be of note that the narrator of this part is Dr. Leslie Thompkins, a recurring character in the Batman universe. Also, like Commissioner Gordon, she too has been hit be the De-Age Ray and has black hair instead of grey because everything has to be younger (in spite of this cover having the symbol to celebrate Batman’s 75th Anniversary so irony abounds).
Like every person about to get their face skewered by a katana, Dr. Thompkins is saved by a mysterious woman wielding a crossbow. However, this woman is not what she seems as she brings Thompkins to one of the bases of Spyral, an organization introduced during Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Upon through hypnotic probing, Thompkins reveals to Spyral the identity of Batman… which I thought they already knew.
Garrón and Cox’s art in this is quite good. It has a cartooney feel to it and is nice and bright for all the violence. The designs for the various members of the Fist of Cain are quite intriguing and fun and the art goes pretty trippy when Spyral and their mind erosion insanity begins.
Part Three is the biggest dose of what Grayson will most likely be back. This part depicts Dick, no with the whole world thinking him dead, trying to get the attention of Spyral by taking out Fist of Cain agents all around the world. The combination of Tim Seeley and Tom King along with Grayson regular artist Mikel Janin provides a fun, vibrant and, above all else, exciting tone as we see Dick take on subway performer assassins (that’s assassins disguised as subway performers, not hitmen that specialize in Underground violinists. That would be absurd.) and literal sky pirates. It ends with the mysterious woman from the beginning of the book (Okay, I’m just going to say it because it’s been spoiled already, the New 52 Helena Bertinelli) to recruit Dick for Spyral.
“But wait,” you shout again, further boiling my ire, “You talked about the first and third parts. What about the second?”
Okay, do you remember that scene in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #7 where Bruce just outright backhands Dick?
Yeah, that scene. Now, when I saw that the first time I tried to rationalize it as Bruce just being high-strung after being tortured/drugged/e.t.c. by the Court of Owls. But the more I tried to rationalize it, the more I became convinced that it was just a really really dumb moment in an otherwise great story.
Yeah, the second part of Nightwing #30 feels like that scene stretched out to a third of an oversized issue. It’s essentially a fight scene in the Batcave between Bruce and Dick with Bruce trying to see if Dick is strong enough to take on Spyral but the execution of it is just bizarre. I remember a small scene in Forever Evil #7 that essentially set up Grayson a lot better than this part did. The art on this part is just very grim and muddy but not in good ways. That’s not even getting into the “conversation” and I say that in quotation marks because it felt like two open monologues happening simultaneously. I wonder if this part had to be rushed for deadlines (considering how the original solicits show none of these creators on this issue).
So, the objective of Grayson is supposedly to catapult Dick into a “A-List” standing in the DCU, as he deserves. I would think you would just have to let Nightwing be the hero of his own story, have his own supporting cast, and not derail his book every other month to tie into whatever was going on in the main Batman book, but that just shows how Cro-Magnon my logic is apparently. So let’s just judge this in two ways: As a conclusion to the Nightwing series that began in September 2011, it’s abysmal. Kyle Higgins’ last issue did that incredibly well. As a lead-in to Grayson? Well, I suppose if you read the first part of this issue, then Forever Evil #7 and then the last part of this issue it does provide some interesting threads. Seeley, King and Janin have provided a fun tone in the last part and since they’re the creative team for Grayson, I suppose that counts for a lot.