Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (DC) Review

Dick Grayson's life has never been more exciting or topsy-turvy. Here is our review of Grayson Vol. 1!

Dick Grayson’s new lease on life in the post-Forever Evil DCU was at first a point of contention for many fans of the Boy Wonder.

His new spy book has all the glitz of a “shocking new direction” designed to empty wallets. But although I didn’t expect Grayson: Agents of Spyral to survive its mission, I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I hope Agent 37 lives to die another day. 

Tim Seeley and Tom King, along with a rotating stable of artists that includes Mikel Janín, Stephen Mooney, Guillermo Ortego, and Juan Castro (as well as Batman veteran Jonathan Glapion on inks and Jeromy Cox on colors), have spun the exciting new adventures of the high-flying Grayson, as he faces dangerous femme fatales, biomechanically enhanced counter agents, a boss with a literal spiral for a face, and obsessed fan girls. All this while flirting with the New 52’s version of Helena Bertinelli and playing double agent for Batman during the events of Batman Eternal. Oh, and did I mention how much fun Grayson is having with this whole mess? The guy is cracking jokes and cartwheeling around while catching the bad guys and completing his assignments. 

It’s not enough to simply state how well Grayson fits into the secret agent role. It’s more like this: I might actually prefer the Boy Wonder as this new super spy. I can’t say for sure that this my all-time favorite version of the character (this HC only collects the first four issues of the series), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction at a time in the DCU when so many A-list characters seem a bit stilted. 

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In fact, this collection is a nice little celebration of Grayson’s rebirth as well as his prior career as a vigilante. Grayson Vol. 1 is bookended by Secret Origins #8, which retells Grayson’s beginnings as Batman’s first sidekick (while also setting up Agents of Spyral), and Grayson: Futures End #1, which gives us a glimpse at Grayson’s relationship with Helena five years into the future. 

It’s worth noting how gorgeously told the Futures End issue is, a remarkable feat due to the fact that so many of the crossovers (and the main weekly series) are generally unreadable. King and Mooney tell a captivating story in backwards page-long vignettes that begins with Grayson and Helena’s final moments together and ends with Tony Zucco’s plot to kill the Flying Graysons. It’s an appropriately melancholic study of Grayson’s destiny as a hero driven so far away from what he originally set out to do. Mooney successfully draws a map of the many lives of Dick Grayson to close out the book. It’s always in Grayson’s most desperate moment, that first page where the Boy Wonder’s life once again hangs by a thread, that Mooney delivers the most heartrending scene.

My only real complaint with the collection — an absolute gem for the uninitiated — is the main arc’s convoluted plot, which doesn’t come together in the four issues presented. But I’ll give it my best to summarize. Basically, Spyral is a secret organization that is trying to discover the identities of al the world’s greatest heroes — Batman being the first unmasked (which I find highly unlikely) — while also recovering the organs of some cosmic being or other, who is probably from a DC event series I don’t care to read. On top of that, Batman has sent Grayson to spy on the organization to figure out what it’s really up to. Ultimately, Grayson is tied to the larger DC lore in a way that the revamped Batgirl isn’t, for example. It does count as a weakness when you’re having so much fun just reading some cool spy adventures, but this is in no way a deal breaker. You’ll just have to deal with not knowing certain things or flipping back to the Secret Origins issue. 

All in all, Grayson Vol. 1 reminds me just how fun this character can be when pulled out of the bleak DC status quo (hopefully no more with the big June relaunch) and put into crazy and new situations.

Remember that time Grayson became Batman during Grant Morrison’s run? While talking to Kevin Smith in his Fatman podcast, Morrison expressed how silly DC was for stripping Grayson of his well-deserved Bat cowl after the New 52 reboot. With Grayson as Batman, the Dark Knight suddenly had an energy, wit, and nimbleness that hadn’t been seen in the character in years. That is Grayson’s potential to be refreshing. And if I can’t have him as Batman, I very much like him as Agent 37.

Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral

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Writers: Tim Seeley & Tom King

Artists: Mikel Janín, Stephen Mooney, Guillermo Ortego, Juan Castro

Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Colors: Jeromy Cox

John Saavedra is an assistant editor at Den of Geek US. Chat with him on Twitter! Or check out all his work at his website.

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4.5 out of 5