Grayson Volume 1 (collecting comics 1-4 of the series) is a bit of a problematic read. Lighthearted in feel contrasted with heavier scenes, super talented Grayson contrasted with a lot of incompetence on his part, superheroes mashed in with James Bond-esq storyline, and a lot of confusion about who, what where, when and why (we got the ‘how’). I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading and had a hard time with the tone and story as a result. It wasn’t that Grayson wasn’t entertaining; it just felt very unfocused and at times silly.
Story: Grayson has gone deep undercover in a clandestine organization on secret orders from Batman. Something about enhanced body parts (eyes here, stomach there) creating facsimiles of superhero powers. One by one the body parts are forcibly removed from the remorseless owners by shady organization Spyral – with Grayson’s help.
Knowledge of events that led to Grayson’s/Nightwing’s current situation aren’t a prerequisite for this new series – reader’s are brokered into the storyline through some info dumps. So the confusion I had came more from tone problems. Spyral’s actions as a secret agency were pretty infantile and felt overwritten as a set of deus ex machina to set up situations for Grayson to perform. Sadly, because of the lack of gravitas or intelligence in the actions of Grayson’s foil, this ‘super spy’ set up felt far too close to a parody of itself; more Austen Powers than James Bond and only missing a white cat or a ‘mini me’ to tip over that edge.
Admittedly, I think I prefer a more conflicted Nightwing. This man-child, busy teasing college co-eds and sucking on boobytrap lollipops, wasn’t very interesting beyond being almost a Marty Stu/Mary Sue of entitlement. When Grayson doesn’t take anything seriously, so too do I have a problem taking the story seriously. It wasn’t fun in the way it should have been nor very interesting (a guy who sees through eyeballs in his gun?!?! How does that even work??)
Add in a few unexpected deaths and one gets a feeling of being lectured along the lines of “Don’t run in the hall with scissors!” Once the parent turns away, back to running in the halls we go, scissors in hand. So, too, does Grayson get momentarily annoyed by the deaths and then return to his carefree self not much afterward. Perhaps this would have worked better without the heavy mid story scenes throwing off the tone so darkly.
So who or what is Spyral and why does Batman care? I guess in the end it didn’t really matter since everything they did was pretty silly and pointless. The bad guys are there to create some Bondesque scenes for Grayson and keep the character churning along. It makes for somewhat mindless entertainment, transforming Nightwing into Dick, the dilettante super spy. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.