Today, Mark and Michael are discussing Grayson 16, originally released January 27th, 2016.
Mark: You know when you over indulge in something that you love? When you love Nerds candy so much you buy a movie theatre box-sized pack of them and eat them in bed, only to wake up the next morning with multi-colored sugar nuggets stuck to your chest and a raging sugar headache? Grayson 16 is the comic book equivalent of that. Dick Grayson is so Dick Grayson this issue, it has to be a knowing parody right? Not to say that the sugar wave isn’t a blast while you’re riding it. It’s hard to blame Seeley and King for giving the people what they want. After the end of its first spectacular arc, Grayson has come down to Earth a little bit, working overtime for a few issues to expound an increasingly complex mythology. Grayson 16 is pretty back-to-basics, but turns everything you loved about early Grayson up to insane levels.
After a few issues of “Wait, what exactly is going on here?” complications, the premise of Grayson 16 is mercifully simple: Dick Grayson is out to take down Spyral, and he’s going to kick every ass necessary in order to do it. You want action? Grayson 16 includes a mash-up of scenes from Mission: Impossible and James Bond; plus it finds space for more generic action beats like our heroes walking away unfazed from an impossibly big yacht explosion. You want Dick Grayson, sexy spy? Did I mention that the aforementioned exploding yacht moment features Grayson and Tiger, both dripping wet, emerging from the ocean and onto the beach wearing only Speedo swimming suits?
And then Grayson launches into a song! What follows is four pages of Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox bliss. As Grayson and Tiger begin to punch their way through the Spyral organization, Janin and Cox, on art and color duties respectively, turn the pages of a comic book into the hallucinatory opening credits sequence of a James Bond film.
Seeley and King even throw Wildstorm fans another bone with the Syndicate and Grifter and Tao showing up again at the end, hired by Helena to eliminate Grayson and Tiger as threats.
Everything about this issue is a lot. It’s the most Grayson that Grayson can possibly be without completely falling into a black hole of meta nothingness. But it’s fun. And fun has been missing from Grayson for a few months, so I’m willing to release myself to the void. How about you, Michael?
Michael: I’m right there with you Mark — I enjoyed the self-indulgent silliness and simplicity of Grayson 16. The events of (the supremely average) Robin War interrupted the momentum that Grayson had been building prior to Grayson 15. However it didn’t really matter to me that I started reading Grayson 16 trying to remember where we left off pre-Robin War. Grayson 14 ended with Tiger’s hands at Dick’s throat as Dick pleaded for his help to take down Spyral. I love that Tom King and Tim Seeley decided to skip ahead from that tense moment to Tiger and Dick already on the hunt for Spyral agents in Grayson 16 — it’s smart, economical and provides the en media res experience that many Grayson issues open with.
I’d go one step further than Mark and say that King and Seeley’s entire game plan for Grayson is to give the people what they want out of a Dick Grayson book. In terms of quipping, I’d say that Dick is the DC equivalent of Spider-Man; in fact, I’m typically more on board with Dick’s jokes than I am the web-head’s. Dick’s sense of humor is the main reason this series has worked so well as a James Bond riff for well over a year. Like Bond, Dick is a cheeky sex symbol who has a reputation for the ladies. Unlike Bond, Dick is the anti-womanizer womanizer. Sure, Dick can be a little nearsighted at times when it comes to his romantic entanglements, but we love him because we know he’s a great guy.
Dick’s Goldfinger song parody was probably my favorite part of the entire book. If you are at all familiar with the original song, Dick’s rendition enters your brain and supplements the Bond-style silhouettes with its score. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely hear the trumpets wail when Dick would go “Ba ba bow!” I might be the rare comic book fan who is also a fan of musical theater. I’ve heard people scoff at the idea of someone feeling something so strongly that they have to sing it — but guys, that’s what MAKES them awesome. Case in point — the best part of Dick’s little jingle: “He gets all the girls, but he calls them women because ‘girls,’ though it fits the rhyme scheme, is kind of misogynistic and doesn’t show proper respect for the other equal seeeeex!” You go, Dick.
Typically my comic book critiques can involve the simplicity of an issue’s story — the lack of propelling the overall narrative. Grayson 16 is the exception to this line of thought. The issue showcases one of the most delightful heroes of the DCU just having a blast doing his thing. With all of the odds and danger stacked up against Tiger and Dick, it’s refreshing to see him take it on with a smile.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?