You know how I said there weren’t many DC Annuals that had come out recently for the books I was reading? Well, there was one, the first annual for the retitled Nightwing book, focusing on Dick Grayson as a super-spy. I had intended to do a review of the first arc, but it isn’t done yet so this is the second best option, at least until the storyline finishes up.
So here’s my look at the DC Comics annual for Grayson.
There was a considerable amount of consternation when they announced that Nightwing, the original Robin and long-time superhero, would give up his spandex and become a super-spy working for a top-secret organization, SPYRAL. I’ll admit that I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea, although in retrospect, because Dick Grayson learned from Batman, supposedly the World’s Greatest Detective, it makes sense that he could seamlessly move to a different lifestyle without much effort. This annual includes virtually no Dick Grayson though. Well, it does, but not as you’d think. An Irish bomb-maker named Rock has managed to capture Helena Bertinelli and seeks to turn her over to a local crime lord called St. Francis for a considerable reward. He’s heard that if you shake St. Francis’ hand, you’d be able to trust that he won’t come after you, but he’s got to get past two lieutenants first before he gets his wish. And so, story-telling Rock entertains the two while they check out his story and through those stories, we get a little closer to the truth.
The price tag for this, $4.99, is pretty steep, but this is a 48-page annual so I think it’s a decent value. Story-wise, while it did drag in places, I think that it was entertaining, even though I figured out that Dick had to be playing the part of Rock pretty early on. We also got some interesting tidbits about the New 52 background of Helena Bertinelli, which varies somewhat from her old self as Huntress. Of course, the new Huntress in the New 52 reality is played by Helena Wayne so they have to mix things up a little.
Writing, except in a couple of places where it was a bit slow, was excellent, Tim Seely and Tom King have proven in the regular Grayson book that they are tremendous at writing a complex and dense book and they don’t stumble here at all. The art here was by Stephen Mooney and it’s certainly adequate, but he’s just not Mikel Janin, even though we get a Janin cover.
To be honest, while the whole bit about selling Helena was good, I’m much more interested in finding out about this St. Francis character, who they mentioned had stolen a Green Lantern skin, which is why he appeared to be glowing green. I went and checked, this isn’t a pre-existing character, it’s something they made up for this issue, but now I want to know more!
It isn’t perfect but it’s damn close. Even with the high cover price, I think any Grayson fan already has it and anyone who has even considered reading Grayson ought to pick it up.