Written by: Tom Seeley
Art by: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Jeromy Cox and Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: September 30, 2015
Some Kind of Duo
I'll tell you a couple things before we start...I love reading Annuals, but I hate reviewing them. I love reading them because you never know what you're going to get. An origin story? A continuation of the current series? A fun side story? Something else entirely? Like I said, you never know what you're going to get. As far as reviewing them, it all comes down to my laziness. These Annuals are mighty big and that means a lot of work. I am not a fan of lots of work. So, I'm lacing up my work boots and diving into Grayson Annual #1.
If you've been following our site, you know that Grayson is my favorite book since it debuted. The best part is, it just keeps getting better. Last issue (that came out last week) was, in fact, my favorite single issue in a long time. If you haven't read it, Dick returned to Gotham for a Bat Family reunion that was so emotional and set the book up for some awesomeness going forward. Unfortunately, that forward may have bypassed this Annual.
The issue opens with what I never get tired of, mainly because we don't get enough of it...Batman and Robin! Yep, the issue starts "several years ago" and if being told that wasn't enough, we get a forced mention of "Sergeant Gordon". While Dick seems to be having the time of his life, Bruce is trying to keep him focused. It's no too hard a job as they are in pursuit of Blockbuster who is ripping through Gotham. There is a chase, some gadgets and then Superman. They take care of Blockbuster and even if Dick thinks Superman is cool, Batman comes off as cold and suspicious.
While I loved seeing Dick Grayson as Robin, this opening threw up a bunch of red flags. I didn't like the dialogue one bit and the characters felt off a bit. It wasn't how Batman treated Superman which I liked, it was the fist bumping and nicknames between Dick and Superman that bothered me.
The problem continues as we get to the present day and see Dick put his Hypnos in. The bad dialogue culprit here goes to the Hypnos themselves. Yes, the Hypnos! I thought I was reading some sort of parody of my favorite book when the Hypnos said "Welcome back to Spyral, the World's premiere specialists in mind erosion, brainwashing and misdirection." Really?!? When Superman shows up, it actually gets worse.
I told you that I loved the last issue of Grayson because of Dick's emotional return to Gotham. I wish the meeting between Supes and Dick was half as good as any of the ones in that book. Tim Seeley didn't seem to know what he wanted out of this scene. It goes from slapstick comedy (Superman thinking Dick is a suicidal jumper) to a forced reunion. I don't know what the Truth did to him, but this was not the Superman I know.
We do get a little rundown of what has happened to each of the heroes since Forever Evil, but everything is cut short by the arrival of the Fist of Cain. If you're not aware of the FOC, they are a fanatical group that goes around collecting "points" for killing folk. The bigger the target, the more points. It's a neat concept that never translates fully to the comic page if you ask me.
We get an extended fight between the Fists and our two heroes that goes from downtown to the outskirts of Gotham. It was okay, but again, a few things bothered me. First was Superman not being able to take a bullet in his depowered state, but yet he can still punch a missile. Another was Dick's now you see them now you don't hypno disguise. The last thing I didn't like was when The FOC bring out Blockbuster and Dick doesn't seem to recognize him even after Superman spells it out.
The issue then continues with a forced (are you sensing a trend here?) Blockbuster origin story and an out of left field explanation of why Dick went with the name Nightwing. I did get excited when Superman demands they call Lex Luthor to help out, but when Dick gets mad because of Forever Evil, it felt off since the two of them dealt with each other a couple of issues ago in the regular run of Grayson. If anything, Luthor should be pissed at what Dick did in that issue.
Pissed or not, Luthor helps out and the Fist of Cain was defeated and Blockbuster gets hauled away. The issue ends with some important players looking on as Superman officially puts the name Nightwing to bed and tells us all that he approves of the name "Grayson". Oh, goodie!
If you haven't guessed it, I didn't like this issue. Maybe it's because I adore the regular book so much, but this issue felt off in the grand scheme of things. There were character problems, dialogue problems and continuity problems. That's a whole bunch of problems and they add up to a disappointing issue for me.
I did like Alvaro Martinez's art, though. This issue looked fantastic with so many great moments. From the Mad Max look of the Fists of Cain to the character models of Dick, Clark and Blockbuster...the art had nothing to do with my dislike of this Annual.
Bits and Pieces:
My hopes for this Annual were quickly dashed under poor dialogue, hokey situations and poor characterizations. While the art looked great, this Annual was an unnecessary diversion. I wish I could recommend this book, but I just can't.