Tag Archives: dick grayson

C2E2: Interview with Nightwing Writer Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy is a multitalented writer, who excels in a variety of mediums. He has written four novels, a book about creative writing called Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, was a contributing editor for Esquire and taught at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Along with screenplays and short stories, Percy has written quite a few comic books since 2014, including DC Rebirth’s Green Arrow and Teen Titans. His next project is a run on Nightwing, beginning with issue 44, and I had the opportunity to chat with him about Dick Grayson’s role in the DC Universe and Bludhaven, collaborating with artist Chris Mooneyham, and of course, Dick’s most famous asset…

Graphic Policy: I first saw your name in print in a review of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (2012) for Esquire. I was wondering how your work as a critic and arts writer influenced your work as a writer of superhero comics.

Benjamin Percy: I write novels. I write for magazines. I write comics. I write screenplays. I write essays. And let’s not forget the erotica too, which I’m celebrated for. What I love about writing in different mediums is I’m always challenging myself aesthetically. So, I’m writing comics and learning things from the medium that make me a better novelist. I’m serving as a book critic or a film critic and as a result, I’m looking more sharply at my own work and holding myself to the same standards as these artists I’m putting on the chopping block.

In every single case as I leap from genre to genre, I’m not only keeping myself excited at the keyboard because it’s always fresh. I’m also hopefully becoming a better storyteller.

GP: One thing I enjoyed about your Green Arrow run was that you returned the character to his Bronze Age roots as a “social justice warrior”. What social issues do you plan to explore in Nightwing?

BP: I was part of the Rebirth era of Green Arrow and that meant looking to his legacy and recognizing that in the O’Neil/Adams era, he was a hotheaded liberal. That’s something that had fallen away from the series. I brought that back, and I channeled the zeitgeist. I was making direct reference to the headlines on the page. There were storylines that resembled what was going on at Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline. There were stories that bore some resemblance to what was going on with Black Lives Matter.

This is Nightwing. I’m not taking the same approach. But I am thinking about what makes us anxious right now. I think that’s something that comics do very well. They channel cultural unease. They give you a cracked mirror version of reality. There’s a lot of things we should fear right now. Cybercrime is chief among them.

If you look at what’s happened with Cambridge Analytica. If you looked at what happened with the election results and the possibility of Russian meddling. If you think about how many times a day you turn your face towards a screen, maybe you think about how every time you tap a mouse or swipe your hand across a tablet or click a link that’s feeding into an algorithm that’s following you and profiling you. If you think about how every time your computer makes that carpenter ant sound, or every time your phone glitches, you’re wondering, “Has it already begun? Is a Trojan worming its way through the guts of my hard drive?”

I want to realize those fears on the page. I think it’s especially apt for Nightwing to be taking on these threats.

GP: Why is he the perfect fit?

BP: For a few different reasons. One, I wouldn’t say that Nightwing is a Luddite, but unlike Batman and Batgirl, he doesn’t surround himself with a lot of gadgets. He’s got his batons, and he’s got his acrobatics. I love an antagonist that really challenges a hero. Nightwing is facing a villain he can’t punch.

Nightwing is also interestingly situated in this storyline because he’s incredibly vital to the whole DCU and adaptable. He knows everyone. He’s served as a follower, and he’s served as a leader. He has connections to the Teen Titans and the Titans and the Justice League and the Bat-group. If you think about vulnerable data as being one of the greatest weapons of this time, he is a vault of vulnerable data. If he’s compromised, everyone’s compromised.

So, he’s facing the the dark web, but he’s at the center of his own web, which makes him the perfect person to take on this challenge and the most worrisome person to fail.

GP: Yeah, he’s definitely the heart of the DC Universe. So, one thing I liked about Tim Seeley and Sam Humphries’ runs on Nightwing were that they brought Bludhaven back with its own personality and history. How do you plan to build off this in your own run?

BP: I want to give props to Tim and Sam who did a kick ass job. I also love what Tom [King] was doing with Spyral in his Grayson run. Right now, Bill Gates is funneling 80 million dollars into a plot of land in Arizona to create a smart city. Right now, off the shore of China, they’re building islands. They’re expanding their country and building these “smart islands”.

I’m taking this real world situation and putting it in Bludhaven, a city that has always been in need of rehab. So, a tech mogul has moved there and is trying to rehabilitate the place. Something else might be going on beneath the surface of his intentions. Not only are buildings being demolished and neighborhoods rebuilt within a 5G network, but every address in Bludhaven has a package arrive on their doorstep. Inside that package is a device known as the “Phantasm”. This Phantasm device is a VR unit that bears some resemblance to Alexa, and Alexa, as you know, is always listening.

GP: She’s so scary. I’m never getting one.

BP: I’m taking Bludhaven, and how it’s been established as a city of ruins, a city of scandal, a city that has seen better times. I’m applying to it the same sort of thing you’re seeing on the East Coast with gentrification, except this is sort of tech-laced gentrification.

GP: So, one thing I love about reading Nightwing comics is that he has this exuberant, acrobatic type of fighting style. How do you choreograph his fights differently in the scripting process versus Damian Wayne’s in Teen Titans or Oliver Queen in Green Arrow?

BP: There’s a lot less yelling since Damian isn’t involved. Far fewer insults being hurled. I’m thinking carefully about every action setpiece and trying to create staging that takes advantage of his particular skill set. If you look at the first scene in Nightwing #44, there’s a subway sequence that involves his batons and also involves, I won’t exactly say what happens yet, a kind of high wire act.

Right away, in a really dramatic fashion, I’m trying to say, “This is Nightwing” with an exclamation mark.

GP: Kind of like a Bond cold open. Speaking of James Bond, which you wrote a little bit for Dynamite, are you bringing any kind of spy elements to Nightwing?

BP: We’re starting off in Bludhaven, but the story is not staying there. Arc after arc, it’s getting bigger and bigger.

GP: That’s what I like to hear. Chris Mooneyham (Five Ghosts) is the artist on your first storyline. Why was he the perfect choice for Nightwing?

BP: He’s the second coming of David Mazzucchelli. If you look at the first few pages [of Nightwing #44], which have been released, you will see parallels in Batman Year One and Daredevil Born Again in what we’re doing. It’s shadow soaked, neo noir, intricately detailed, and he takes advantage of every centimeter of the panel. There’s a beautiful grit at work, classic staging, and a more mature sensibility.

GP: I have one last question. Dick Grayson is perceived both in the DC Universe and by fans as a sex symbol. How will you portray that in your run on Nightwing?

BP: I make a crack about it right away. On page 2, panel 6, if you look at the top right corner of the subway station, there’s some graffiti that says “Butthaven”. I’m winking right there at how Dick has been portrayed. There will be romance to come, and I’ll also say that Batgirl plays an essential role in this story. He needs someone who is tech savvy. I’ve always loved their relationship.

Nightwing #44 will be released on May 2, 2018.

Follow Benjamin Percy on Twitter.

A First Look at Titans’ Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson

In 2018, a new team comes to live action in Titans, a new series based on the popular DC comic and characters. Brenton Thwaites will suit up as Dick Grayson and we now have a first look at his Robin costume.

Designed by Laura Jean Shannon, the suit has a lot of familiar with the iconic domino mask, gloves, and signature staff, and a slightly darker red suit.

Titans comes from executive producers Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. In it, Dick Grayson emerges from the shadows to become the leader of a fearless band of new heroes, including Starfire, Raven and many others. Fans can expect Titans to be a dramatic, live-action adventure series.

Look for Titans to debut in 2018 on DC’s new direct-to-consumer digital service, operated by Warner Bros. Digital Networks.

It’s a New Order for Nightwing

Dick Grayson leads a terrifying new regime against superheroes in Nightwing: The New Order, a brand-new miniseries coming from DC this August. From The New York Times best-selling Batman: Gates of Gotham team, writer Kyle Higgins and artist Trevor McCarthy introduce an authoritarian future in an alternate universe in which superpowers have been eliminated and outlawed. The man responsible? None other than Grayson, the former vigilante Nightwing. But what happens when the system he has created targets his family as the next threat?

Now leader of a government task force called the Crusaders, Grayson’s priorities are to hunt the remaining Supers and repress anyone who works outside the law. But when events transpire that turn the Crusaders’ aim toward Grayson’s own family, he must turn against the very system he created, with aid from the very people he’s been hunting for years—the last metahumans of the DC Universe.

The riveting new miniseries will run monthly for six issues. Nightwing: The New Order #1 hits shelves August 23.

Review: Nightwing: Rebirth #1

NightwingRebirthOn paper, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 is a combination of flashbacks featuring supporting characters from Dick Grayson’s days as Agent 37 in Grayson (Including Midnighter, who gets some witty dialogue from writer Tim Seeley), a framing narrative featuring Dick trying to remove a bomb from Damian Wayne’s brain and bonding with him in the process, and finally a teaser of the upcoming Nightwing series featuring blue costumes and espionage. There isn’t a really a plot though as Seeley and artist Yanick Paquette try to pull off the Herculean task of tying together loose ends from both Grayson and Robin War and still giving the Nightwing title a fresh start and a hook. And they almost succeed thanks to some heartwarming character interactions and Paquette’s depiction of Dick Grayson’s cockiness and acrobatics as Nathan Fairbarn uses a variety of color styles to set up the globetrotting feel of the upcoming comic.

Despite the paucity of plot (which has been a problem with some of the new Rebirth titles as they feel like zero issues or prologue and not a new #1), Seeley and Paquette together get what has made Dick Grayson tick as a character in his best appearances: being the sun in the solar system that is the DC Universe. Through his time over the years, the New 52 wiped a lot of those classic relationships out, especially with the Teen Titans and after Dick’s secret identity was exposed in Forever Evil. However, these relationships started to be rebuilt in Grayson Annual #3 featuring guest appearances from Harley Quinn, Azrael, John Constantine, and more, and in Nightwing Rebirth #1, Dick is having them with Damian, Batman and even Tiger and Midnighter from Grayson.

NightwingPage1But there’s a little bit of a twist that sets up the conflict in the upcoming Nightwing series as Dick Grayson doesn’t take any time for himself and goes right back to fighting the Parliament of the Owls under the Nightwing moniker that they “re-christened” him with towards the end of Robin War. Dick Grayson is wearing a superhero costume and even fights Z-list supervillains and visits in Wayne Manor in Nightwing Rebirth #1, but he is still very much a spy as he is using his identity of Nightwing to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls.

This spy story with a superhero aesthetic is apparent in Paquette and Fairbarn’s art, which is more bombastic than the sleek subterfuge and occasional mind screwiness of Mikel Janin’s work on Grayson. There are some fantastic full page spreads in Nightwing Rebirth #1 of characters in superhero poses, like Helena Bertinelli donning the costume of Huntress or Dick becoming Nightwing again, or battling monsters and villains, like Dick and Midnighter fighting some freaky unicorn hybrid creature straight out of Neverending Story in the Alps. And the first page of Dick in mid-descent kicking some colorful red, yellow, and orange costumed clowns (No connection to the Joker thankfully.) courtesy of Paquette and Fairbarn sets the stage for the action sequences in the issue, which are bookended by more intimate conversation scenes. The only time that shadow and subterfuge makes an appearance is when the Parliament of Owls shows up, and hopefully Nightwing series artist Raul Fernandez keeps this contrast between shady spycraft and bold superheroics in his art.

Even though it doesn’t tell a full story, Nightwing: Rebirth #1 creates both a mood and aesthetic for the upcoming Nightwing comic as well as catches up readers on the life and relationships of Dick Grayson if they didn’t pick up Grayson or Robin War.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Yanick Paquette  Colors: Nathan Fairbarn
Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Steve Orlando’s Midnighter Embodies Both Machismo and Vulnerability

Midnighter7The best heroes always have some kind of personal problem that can you latch onto. This was how the Marvel empire was made with the Thing struggling with his disfigured appearance, Peter Parker dealing with bullies at school and balancing superheroics and life as a teenager, and the X-Men being stand-ins for any kind of oppressed people group, especially once Chris Claremont starting writing about them.

And this goes for heroes of action movies as well. Sure, it’s fun to see Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Seagal, or Lundgren mow down aliens or random mercenaries for an hour or two, but the action heroes that I remember are the ones with vulnerability. What made the first Die Hard so compelling was that John McClane wasn’t a superhero jumping on fighter planes guns ablazing like in the sequels, but that he was just a simple beat cop from New York with a marriage on the rocks that happened to get caught up in an insane situation. He gets duped by the villain, his feet bleed, and both the LAPD and FBI are terrible to him. John doesn’t ever reunite with his wife and even develops a drinking problem in Die Hard with a Vengeance, and his estrangement from his daughter is part of the main plot of Live Free and Die Hard. However, he’s not a lonely, mopey loser and still somehow beats the bad guys in each film while uttering some of the most hilarious one-liners. And heroes with a vulnerable side, who still manage to kick ass, have headlined some of the highest grossing action films of this millennium from Daniel Craig’s James Bond (especially in Casino Royale where he struggles to kills and falls for Vesper Lind) to Jason Bourne and even Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Tony Stark, who both quips and has panic attacks.

Midnighter as written by Steve Orlando and drawn by ACO, Alec Morgan, Stephen Mooney, and colored by Romulo Fajardo falls into this post-John McClane action hero with problems tradition albeit with more science fiction and superhero trappings because he is a part of the weird, wacky, and multiverse rocking DC Universe. In case you don’t know, Midnighter was experimented on by a mysterious woman named Gardener, who gave him special enhancements, including a fight computer that allows him to see the outcome of any fight. He doesn’t know anything about his childhood, has no secret identity, and isn’t afraid to kill evil doers. But he doesn’t brood like his original inspiration, Batman, and is always ready for a snappy rejoinder after punching someone’s head off or before defeating them in combat. Midnighter is also the only gay male superhero to have his own title at both Marvel and DC and is single after a long term relationship with Apollo, who has godlike powers similar to Superman.

And it’s in his romantic and interpersonal relationships that we really find Midnighter’s vulnerable side beneath his snarky one-liners and the incredible action sequences choreographed by ACO, Morgan, and Mooney. Orlando gives us just the right amount of flashbacks featuring Midnighter and Apollo’s breakup in Midnighter #2-3 as Midnighter struggles to find his identity as both a human being and out gay man apart from him. These scenes show Midnighter at his most cynical as he tells Apollo that “Midnighter is a nameless, hopeless fight robot” and kissing him one last time because he knows the outcome of this fight will be a breakup thanks to his fight computer.

MidnighterBreakup

And Midnighter’s post-Apollo love life is fraught with even more instability as he wonders whether to take things fast or slow with several men, including Warren, who seemed to only be a one night stand in the Midnighter preview comic; Jason, who he puts a kind of biotechnological GPS tracker on and ends up being “just friends” with after moving too quickly, and Matt. Matt was just the worst. After Midnighter saved him from homophobes in Russia, had romantic chats with him on rooftops, built him a new apartment using special God Garden technology, and even had a heart to heart with his “dad” about Matt coming out a while back, he is revealed to be the Big Bad of the first arc, Prometheus.

His and Midnighter’s easy romantic chemistry gets twisted when it’s revealed that Prometheus has an implant that PoorMidnighter7can shut down Midnighter’s fight computer, and his brain is programmed with the moves of 30 great martial artists, including Batman, Lady Shiva, and of course, Midnighter. He also has access to Midnighter’s “origin file” containing all his childhood memories from the God Garden, which Midnighter destroys in an emotional double page spread from ACO with all of his anguish about his failed relationship with Matt taking the form of a brain punch. The post-mortem after the fight scene with Midnighter chatting with some of his friends that he has made throughout the arc, like Tony the pool player and Marina the martial arts instructor turned human weapon saved by Midnighter, is even tougher as Midnighter thinks he can’t get close to anyone because he can’t predict their moves. Sadly, there’s no fight computer for human relationships, and this is hard for Midnighter to wrap his mind around. Hopefully, his love life is better in the next arc, but solicits teasing appearances from Apollo are sure to complicate and continue to bring out those sad emotions from the DC Universe’s biggest badass.

And yes, Midnighter is definitely a macho dude with a quit and a penchant for the theatrical, like when he uses Dick Grayson’s limber body as a spear in an atlatl, tears out his eardrums in Midnighter #2 to take out a woman who kills with sounds, or puts “headbutted an alien” on his Grindr profile. Each issue of Midnighter is action packed as he fights different supervillains, mercenaries, or generally bad folks, who are using the God Garden technology to exploit regular people. Some of these missions bring out his softer side, like in Midnighter #3 when he empathizes with a young girl, who was kidnapped by human traffickers telling her that none of this was her fault and about his kidnapping as a child. But because he’s a violent and a killer, he doesn’t join the girl and her mother for dinner going on to the next battle because he thinks that fighting is all he is good for. It’s a bittersweet ending to his non-stop punching of Multiplex thanks to ACO’s crazy layouts.

Steve Orlando makes Midnighter a compelling action hero by having perform cool fighting moves and say witty things while also having relatable problems for readers like me, like dating  after a long, practically life defining relationship. (Apollo is the only man Midnighter has dated after coming out.) The title “Out” is a perfect one for the first Midnighter arc from Orlando, ACO, Morgan, and Mooney as Midnighter must simultaneously find his personal identity as a newly, single gay man as well as  It’s the perfect marriage of text and subtext to go along with Midnighter punching the brain matter out of homunculi and walking shirtless in saunas with Dick Grayson.

Review: Batman and Robin Eternal #4

4878987-bmrbet_cv4_ds“Deadly Dinner”

So this week opens up with action right out the gate. From the moment you turn the first page it’s an all out kitchen melee. Bruce Wayne (with no knowledge of his former life) finds himself surrounded by a variety of deadly cutlery wielding assassins, who want him dead.

Lucky for Bruce, someone has his back. His former (again unbeknownst to Bruce) partner Dick Grayson, knows his way around some knives since he grew up in a circus. (I wonder if knife survival looks good on a resume?) As good as Grayson is though he begins to get outnumbered and the cavalry arrives in the form of some Robins. Make that tons of them. Duke Thomas and his band of street kids from the comic We are Robin, happily join the fray. (Personally that was the coolest part of the issue for me as the Duke Crew know how to make an entrance and it was completely unexpected)

Just when the fight seems about even, in comes Batgirl! She cracks wise while stylishly kicking some bad guy behind as well as endearing herself to her comrades. She even tries to give Duke and the new kids some pointers.(Remember kids, crime fighting etiquette is the utmost importance) Before long the fight is at a close and our heroes mop up, so to speak.

Dick and Barbara do some short catching up, before Barbara being sent off to keep a close eye on Bruce for his safety. It’s noted here that something occurred that caused friction between them. (the editor’s note says see Batgirl #45, I haven’t so I will plead ignorance at this point)

The remainder of the issue consists of Dick having a heated phone discussion with Tim Drake (Red Robin) who is manning the Batcave and providing all the intel. It’s funny to me that with Barbara fully healed and back in her Bat gear, Tim has taken on a very Oracle-like role in the Bat books as of late. I don’t mind it and it’s certainly a natural role for Tim with his tech savvy. I still wish it were Barbara as Oracle truth be told, but I guess I’m just being stubborn.  Dick (in disguise) also goes to visit Bruce to alert him of the dangers that lie ahead as well as making him aware that he has his back. One thing I will say, is that I am very much enjoying the Bat-Team with Bruce out of the equation. It lets us see what the kids are made of, and allows for some interesting story possibilities. I am hoping this starts to move at a more break neck pace soon, as each week is starting to feel like filler.

Overall: So not a great entry, but not a terrible one either. It had it’s moments. Certainly the kitchen surprise with all the Robins was very entertaining, but the rest of the issue even including what should have been a shocking cliffhanger, just didn’t pack the emotional punch I think it meant to. (Now that cliffhanger bomb, from issue #1, there’s a different story!) I know plots on a big epic like this take time to build but c’mon creative team, try a little harder please. The savior of the week though was penciller Scot Eaton. His art was energetic and the man knows his way about drawing a kitchen. All in all each week the artists are really holding their own in trying to make each chapter as exciting as possible. I just hope the writers get the memo, and start doing the same. If you need me I will be cautiously optimistic waiting on the rooftop, using the Batsignal to make menacing shadow puppets. Till next time, Gotham…

Story: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder Art: Scot Eaton
Story: 6 Art: 7.5  Overall: 6.5  Recommend: Read

Review: Batman and Robin Eternal #3

BMRBET-03-300-001-HD-1-cad48“While the Bat’s away”

So we enter into week three of the half-year epic Batman & Robin Eternal, and while I appreciate that it must be quite a daunting task for any creative team to sustain interest and high level of creativity, it’s important to me as a reader that they don’t simply phone it in.

Each issue should be constructed almost like an episode of a season of a tv show with individual events but a long reaching overall story arc. While the first week was a big splash right out the gate and last weeks was lackluster, this one was somewhere right in the middle.

The theme that all of Batman’s former young proteges are being targeted from a secret menace from his past is very intriguing. The new villain “Mother” could have lots of promise if handled properly. I have been thoroughly impressed with the “Bat books” since the rebirth of the New 52 a few years ago. So many concepts were revamped and updated with great achievement. Sure it’s a bit wacky that we are to believe in the new condensed continuity that Batman has had four Robins (Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian) in just 5 years (Talk about not longstanding job security) but hey that’s comics.

So on to the issue. The skinny here, is that Mother has a list, and all the Robins and former teenage sidekicks and even one current one (Harper Row) are on it. It’s not a good list, like the Dean’s list. This is bad news indeed.

Last issue we were treated to a yawn of a slugfest with a new villain named The Orphan, kicking our heroes collective butts, with no real explanation. This week we open up with the resident hothead of the Robin’s: Jason Todd, now known as Red Hood about to execute the ninja newbie Cassandra Cain. To Jason’s surprise she is more than ready for him. As Jason gets the upper hand though, big brother Robin, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing aka Agent 37 (Seriously Dick, pick one) steps in with words of peace to calm this kill fest down.

Red Robin (These guys sure love colors in their names) suggests if they are going to try to solve a mystery like the old days, there’s only one place to go: The Batcave. When they arrive in an effort of complete transparency (guess we are not in Congress) Dick plays Bruce’s secret message for his team. Team Robin tries to make heads or tails of it but with no real results. All they know is that “Mother” is some kind of teen agent human trafficker with deadly intentions and very vast resources.

Like the TV show Arrow, This story makes common use of flashbacks to give us crumbs to follow to piece the mystery together. (At this point though, you can yank my junior detective badge because I got squat) 

What we are shown in the flashback is more details of a case that Bruce and Dick worked on very early in their crime fighting careers as Batman and Robin. This one particular tidbit comes from the Dynamic Duo’s legendary first tussle with Dr. Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow. Robin (Dick) has been exposed to The Scarecrow’s “fear toxin” and nothing is seeming to shake the effects. In an effort to restore his partner to sanity, Bruce removes his Batman cowl and ask Dick what he’s seeing. In short Dick explained to him that the toxin makes him see his greatest fears and his fear of being a failure to Batman. Basically a failure that could resonate in any loving father-son relationship.

Just as Robin pours his heart out, Batman slips the cowl back on and heads out on the case.(wow a bit harsh in my view, but he is Batman after all) 

Here’s where it gets dicey. Batman was exposed to the fear toxin, the same as Robin, however he tells him that he was not effected at all. Hmm, I’m sure this will come into play later but for now I’m stumped. Perhaps at this stage in The Scarecrow’s career the “toxin” only effects adolescents? I’m not quite sure but they put bait on the hook because the writers got me here.

As for the rest of the issue we are treated a look at the non Bat- Bruce Wayne and left with yet another cliffhanger. I really wish the creative team would get us back the the great cliffhanger bomb they dropped on us back in issue one but I guess a modicum of patience is required.

Overall: As I pointed out this is a weekly story and takes time to build. However a weekly saga needn’t be a “weak” saga. I like the flashback scenes so far and that issue one cliffhanger was killer. I’m just not properly feeling it yet. At least the writers have another 23 weeks to turn me around. On the plus side, the art by Paul Pelletier and Scot Eaton was very polished and dynamic. I feel they have a terrific handle on the look of these characters without making them look juvenile. I particularly love the revamped design of Dick Grayson’s Robin costume for this era. It invokes a lot of the original Tim Drake costume design from the early 1990’s (One of my personal favorites) and there is nothing wrong with that. While I’m not floored yet at this juncture, like a loyal fan I will see how this plays out. So for the foreseeable future you can catch my weekly review here. Press the tights and check the utility belts, till next week same Bat .. err bird time, same bird channel!

Story: James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley, and Scott Snyder  Art: Paul Pelletier, Scott Eaton
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Review: Grayson #12

STK682753“Back to the Nest”

First off I will say that I have been saying the praises of this series for quite a while now, and I must say now I want to start singing them. Every time I think the bar has been raised, the creative team seems to trapeze with ease right over it.

For the past 11 issues Dick Grayson has been taken out of Gotham and thrust into the world of SPYRAL and international intrigue. It has been a wild ride thus far and even with Dick being in a new element it’s been him at his most “Grayson” in a long time. Well this issue might just be him at his most “Graysonest” (Not a word I know, but it darn should be) ever. Whether it’s as Dick Grayson, Nightwing, or Agent 37, this team just gets it. So when I read that this would be the issue that he makes his grand return to Gotham, I got so excited. I had my reservations but my faith in this series far outweighed my worries. I was right. This was brilliant.

Those who are regular readers are usually treated to high-octane action, secret agent double crosses, dangerous romantic exploits and quips and jokes by the boatload. Well this month we take a slight hiatus from that format. This is a simple story at its core. Just a story about a man who has been estranged from his family for a long time, and he finds his way home.

First things first, the former first Robin needs to see: The Bat. To his chagrin, Bruce Wayne is and no longer remembers being Batman. Ever.

GRAY_12_2Alfred, has made it clear to Dick, that during Bruce’s final battle with the Joker, (Back in Batman #35-40 by Bat Lords Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo) Batman finally died but Bruce Wayne survived. Dick needing to see this for himself, decides to dress in disguise to go see a Bruce Wayne who doesn’t remember him anyway.

What makes this scene work so well is that the page is adorned in many thought bubbles. To the not so keen eye, they appear to be random thoughts. To the eyes of an honorary detective however you discover that every single solitary one of them has been seen in print in the pages of a Batman or DC Comic before. I thought this was a fantastic touch, almost a literary semblance of seeing ones life flash before their eyes but with thoughts. They are all excerpts from former conversations between the original Batman and Robin: Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. The writers managed to take the very long history between the two and condense it down into just quotes on one page. A great device that brings the reader up to speed without having the overuse of long-winded narration to get the point across. Before Dick leaves he asks Bruce just one last question. “Are you happy?”  Bruce isn’t able to give him a clear-cut answer since he has no memory of his past and isn’t quite sure what to feel. Dick realizes that it may not be the same Bruce Wayne standing in front of him at that moment. One thing is crystal clear though. Batman is not home anymore.

tumblr_nv4panMqjJ1spjdwjo1_1280Next stop up, we find Dick getting punked out on a rooftop between his former “Robin boy wonders in arms” Jason Todd and Tim Drake. Like Bruce, Dick has a storied past with both these individuals. They all at one time were the successor to the mantle of Robin in some form and the teen sidekicks of the Dark Knight. Dick tries to explain his side of the story to the both of them but it falls on deaf ears. (Faking your own death to your best friends, has a way of getting to the toughest of us) He goes on and on trying to explain the reason, that it was the greater good and the greatest burden he had to bear to keep them safe. They simply say to him that he shouldn’t have lied to them because above all else, they aren’t just siblings of the Bat, they are brothers. Then and there, Dick understands they are right. Before he leaves he says a small speech to each and presents them with two Batarangs. He tells them Bruce would want them to have it. Like the previous scene with Bruce, this was done very well. First we had Jason slug Dick right in the face and Tim try to break it up. Simple touches like that gives the effect these characters all have a deep relationship and maintains that they are a family. Simply put, all families fight. Especially brothers.

75afa9c1089cf4e28e4c82a5b7c65396  tumblr_nuzyb3lXO71u0u277o1_1280

A short time later we find ourselves atop a bridge in the midst of a reunion conversation between Dick and Batgirl herself: Barbara Gordon. This was the one conversation Dick dreaded the most. It’s not just a former caped crusader or sibling or friend, this is the love of his life. The love of his life that he has lied and deceived and no excuse on Earth is good enough for her. So he doesn’t try. He just mans up and lets her know how much he’s missed her and he’s sorry. Unfortunately like in real life, sometime saying your sorry isn’t good enough. Nor should it be. I really liked this approach, another tip of my hat to the writers here, showing they understand that Dick Grayson is a humanized superhero. He is not above reproach or tries to be holier than thou. It’s one of the reasons Dick Grayson is at the top of my list of all time favorite fictional, not just comic book characters. He has a purity in his fallible nature that is refreshing. He may make mistakes, but he always tries to make up from them and more importantly learn from them. Barbara doesn’t have to accept his apology but she at least hears him out. She then leaps off the bridge (that’s a better exit that over dramatically slamming a door any day got to give the girl style points there) and in true chivalrous fashion Dick follows suit. (flying off bridges is nothing for a child of the circus and Batman’s side kick, helloooo)

tumblr_nv4qg86gjV1upytp1o1_1280Once Dick catches up to Babs (as he always called her) and says he just wants to give her something. He hands her the trapeze bar from their first date at the circus when Barbara was still rehabilitating after her torture at the hands of the Joker. Being a human being, this strikes a nerve with Barbara and then hears him out. It isn’t the love fest one would expect but it is heartwarming nonetheless. Barbara then figures out that the deliberate speech pattern and words Dick used and pulls a clue from it. (I won’t spoil, but it is a very clever concept that is repeated through the issue) Before she can get confirmation, Dick is long gone.

Finally we make our last stop. Dick arrives to see Damien Wayne, son of Batman and Dick’s former Robin. (Dick as Batman in Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin is one of the all time best stories in my opinion) This scene was my favorite in the book. It was brief but, near perfect. Damien rushes and somersaults his way with joy right over to Dick as soon as he learns he’s alive. No cold shoulder just a warm embrace for his back from the dead brother. A long hug and a couple of wisecracks exchanged between them and that was all that was needed. Such a great touching moment.

Overall: Like I said before the bar keeps being surpassed each and every single month and it is a true joy as a reader to pick up a book that you don’t want to put down. Those who were looking for fast paced espionage might have been a little disappointed this month but not me. I couldn’t have been more pleased. This was just a good story about a uniquely estranged family which was raw and had a lot of heart. I’ve enjoyed this book a little more every single issue and with Dick back amongst the Bat-Family, it’s only going to get better. Ladies and gentleman the band is back together and this might just be their best performance yet. Keep the lights on in the cave and see you all here in 30 days.

Story: Tim Seely and Tom King Art: Mikel Janin 
Story: 9.9 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Grayson #11

STK679251

“The me you think you know”

This month we open right up with action, action, action! Agent 1 is down from his heinous attack by the Agent Killer (that’s my name for this character) Agent 1 looks up just in time to see his assassin and it appears to be… Dick Grayson?? Wait no, AK just got attacked by Dick Grayson! (So.. will the Real Dick Grayson please stand up?)

Just then Agent 37 (our Dick) says what most of the readers must have been thinking. He asks if the killer is really Clayface (from his old cape and cowl Gotham days), and tells him it’s been boring and done so many times before. (Hush, the new 52, etc.) He banters on with his doppelganger and begins to slowly realize this can’t be Clayface, and he’s intrigued. His curiosity starts to turn to worry though when the villain starts talking more. Little by little divulging things only a member of the Bat Family or someone close to them would know, which is bad news. Agent 37 is becoming more unnerved by the moment and wants to shut it down, but now he is on the end of someone maliciously taunting him. The mystery foe gets deep in his head with all the mentions of Dick’s past tragedies and failures. The verbal onslaught makes Grayson sloppy and he starts to fade quick. It’s then apparent that Dick is no match at this moment and falls to his deadly foe.

4759300-4-gray_11_4-5It is here that the writer reveals to the readers who was masquerading as Dick Grayson, and I must say I am glad they didn’t go the old tired route of Clayface or one of the other Bat Villains. Instead they gave Dick and all of SPYRAL a new antagonist to work with. Which is just fine with me. Having not been too familiar with this character as others, I’m not sure it packed the emotional gut punch it was supposed to for me, but it still worked well.

Overall: I’ve said it before, this title presents Dick Grayson at his very best. The spy shtick suits him nicely and his humor is a breath of fresh air. The mystery keeps compounding which I am enjoying and can’t wait until Dick finally gets the chance to reunite with some more familiar characters very soon. I in no way want this title to come to an end and just force Dick back to his Nightwing role. This is like a hit tv show that just keeps getting better and is about to hit it’s stride. So please tuck the capes in the suitcase for a little while longer please DC Comics and throw him in an Astin Martin and have him cruising the mountainside and crank it full throttle! (After all James Bond should not have to sully himself leaping across rooftops at night) One thing this issue taught me is Dick, like the folly of most great dashing spies needs to keep it in his pants more. After all, Hell hath no fury like a… whoops, may have said too much. I’m stowing all communicators and SPYRAL IDs until next month. See you then. Agent H out…

Story: Tom King and Tim Seeley Art: Mikel Janin
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Definite Buy

Review: Batgirl Annual #3

batgirlannual003When reading the modern medium of comics, it is easy to forget that comic stories did not always have the same format.  As opposed to the modern day where one-shots are an absolute rarity, they used to exist more or less in this format across the entire medium.  Long story arcs were rare, and heroes usually met a villain and dealt with them in a short amount of time.  These stories which can be more easily located in the silver age, had a fairly common format of hero encounters villain, is beaten at first but then quickly recovers and wins.  This format is interesting because it is still occasionally used, but also because it is used in this most recent Batgirl Annual, and used quite cleverly.

Facing off against a mysterious villain and organization tied to the name Gladius, Barbara is forced to make some unlikely alliances which take her around the bat-family.  The cover alludes to the one that fans would be the most excited about, with an encounter with Dick Grayson, but there are also some clever other interactions as Barbara follows the trail of Gladius.  She encounters two other former Batgirls from previous years (Stephanie Brown and Helena Bertinelli) as well as Batwoman, a decent collection of Bat-ladies that is only missing Cassandra Cain.  The story diverges in an unexpected direction as well, crossing over what might be DC’s two best titles at the moment, as Batgirl and the residents of Gotham Academy get to meet for the first time.

What is most interesting about this story, is that while it is told in a series of separate vignettes, each with their own style, it also still manages to be a fluid story that makes sense, without the cameos seeming too forced.  Barbara is still the star but she cedes that status easily to those that she teams up with, making this issue more than the sum of its parts.  While the main series occasionally gets tied down in its own plots, this annual seems to represent a desire by the main creative team to cut loose a bit and have some fun with the character, and they succeeded.

Story: Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher Art: Bengal, David LaFuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen, Gabe Eltaeb, Ivan Plascensia
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

« Older Entries