by Matt Puddy
“You think you know Nightwing... you don’t know Dick”
A very bold statement used in the advertising for the new series starring former Robin, former Nightwing and former Forever Evil captive, Dick Grayson. Putting the risqué pun aside, will this in your face approach live up to its own hype?
Tim Seeley’s story opens like a spy film – on top of a moving train – complete with acrobatics and gunshots, whilst a black clad operative looks on. For readers of Stormwatch, you’ll immediately recognise Midnighter and wonder why he’s there too.
Grayson meanwhile works his way onto the train and it’s clear that he has a target in mind. He's also not alone. A female accomplice is also on the train helping to clear the way for him to extract Ninel Dubov, a seemingly low level trafficker. Once exfiltrated from the train though, things begin to clarify. A drugged Ninel is quite compliant with Grayson, but once Midnighter steps in and raises the stakes Dubov’s true colours show. He hides away power inside him. Not in the classical sense, but actual power and is being used as a smuggler. Once pushed though, he uses it to save Grayson before collapsing and being removed from the scene.
Back at Spyral HQ we are finally introduced to the man behind it all, Mr Minos, whose face is obscured even to his agents by the implants that also protect their identities. An extra layer of mystery added to what transpires to be an even shadier organisation. With the equivalent of “he’s gone to a farm up north where he has plenty of space to run around,” it appears that Grayson has been diverted away from the truth - Ninel has been harvested and in reality Minos is tracking down and trying to create transparency of all the supers.
I feel a little let down by the story if honest and it came across to me as a mish-mash of older ideas and toned down individuals. Midnighter, for example, the man who can see a million moves ahead in a fight - so much so that he’s won it before it even starts - is matched by Grayson without too much trouble. There are hints of the Superhuman Registration Act ideology that Marvel hinged their Civil War arc on. It’s also sat firmly on top of a James Bond-styled story too, which felt very beneath Dick Grayson. This is a man who became Batman for a while after all.
Artistically speaking it’s not a bad looking comic. Between Janin’s artwork and Cox’s colouring you are given a bright and vibrant issue. The cover is stylish and bold – although I still prefer the look of Nightwing to the current Grayson visage – and it really creates an impact, but it’s one that the comic itself somewhat fails to live up to.
You may have gotten the slight hint that I was underwhelmed by this issue and I don’t really enjoy giving bad reviews but in this case I can’t help it. The promise of what this could of been was so much more than what was given. The cynic in me doesn’t believe that all is as it should be with Grayson working for Spyral, and there are certainly hints that he is an inside man for Batman Inc. that will hopefully lead to him breaking it apart. I’m hoping that there are significantly interesting twists to come in the next couple of issues, as otherwise this could be another New 52 casualty.
Matt Puddy is gutted that Kingsman: The Secret Service has been delayed until next year.