Thursday, December 10, 2015

Grayson #15 Review

Win in the End

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 9, 2015

I was a little torn going into this issue.  While I love Grayson and am excited for Robin War after last week’s opener, I hate it when my regular stories are interrupted by crossover events.  Throw into that mix the urgent nature of last month's cliffhanger (Dick trying to convince Tiger to take on Spyral with him while being choked Tiger) and getting from point a to point b took a little more suspension of disbelief than usual.  However, once he got there, it all made perfect sense.  This is the first (and best, if you ask a certain reviewer) Robin and the band couldn't hit the road for their reunion tour their front man.  So, does this issue nail the rare feat of being a great Robin War crossover while also being a kick ass Grayson issue?  Let's find out…

Here's a story...The issue starts with an expanded version of the Brady Bunch intro or the oddest game of Hollywood Squares I've ever seen.  I didn't see Marsha or Paul Lind anywhere, but I did see a group of kids all declaring, “I am Robin”.  As a fan of the book, We are Robin, I really appreciated this page not only because it looked great, but because it expanded the Robin War beyond the little group I've seen and really gave me the sense that this indeed had become a movement.  After ending fittingly with Duke Thomas, we turn the page and get a simple response from Damian…”No you’re not!”.  Thus begins an issue that is just as much (probably more) about the original four Robins than anything else.

This is an issue of Grayson, so it’s fitting that Dick steps up to address the crowded Gotham  Underground, but it’s as the first Robin and it’s awesome.  This is Dick’s “Independence Day” speech and as he tells all the kids that he’s to blame for what they’ve all done and it’s his responsibility to make sure they get better, I really got pumped.  Sure, it made me laugh that he includes the other Robins in this without really talking about it, but it leads to something I didn’t know I wanted this bad...Robin School!

I’m just going to pause a second to talk to anyone reading this review who has avoided Grayson because it’s not Nightwing.  Tom King shows in this issue what the fuss is all about...he writes a great Dick Grayson.  It doesn’t matter if he’s a circus performer, a former sidekick or a super spy...Tom King knows the character and treats him with the respect that even the most hardcore fan has to appreciate.  Don’t just take my word for it, reading this tie-in should convince you well enough.

Back to the issue, Robin School is exactly what I’d imagine...a bunch of action movie training montages.  If comics had music, I’m sure “Fight to Survive”, “Hearts on Fire” and “Win in the End” would be playing while Tim, Jason and Damian each trained a bunch of recruits with their own particular set of skills.  The best part is that each scene ends with that particular Robin telling their students the one word that Batman said captured the essence of being Robin.  I won’t spoil what they said, but I’ll tell you that each is different and do capture each of them to a T.

We then switch to Dick giving Duke a little one-on-one training.  It’s a really cool page with Dick and Duke’s fight framing the Robins having a meal and talking about Batman.  The training ends with Duke showing how smart and strong he is and the dinner conversation leads to the reader seeing that Jim Gordon Batman and his team have the Robins bugged and know just what they are doing. Yep, there is a Rat in the among the Robins.

Back with the Robins, they have picked the best of the best (cue another song!) and yes, it is pretty much the roster of We are Robin.  Each are teamed with a Robin and sent off on a mission...Tim and Dre are off to hack the GCPD servers and get info, Jason and Dax go to see what weapons the police have, Damian and Isabella leave to take out Robot Batman while Dick and Duke stay behind to direct it all.  I’m sure some will complain that this is all forced and too convenient, but as a We are Robin fan, I like it.  I know these characters and what they end up assigned to do makes sense for the most part.  I hope this all carries over to their book.

While the others are on route, Dick and Duke have the best conversation in this issue.  It starts with small talk, leads to the new Robins versus the “Originals” and ends with both having a mutual understanding of where they stand.  Tom King does all this on one page with just the right amount of dialogue mixed with silence.  Awesome!

The issue ends with what appears to be the end of the Robin movement and I’m talking original and extra crispy here...everyone.  We find out who the rat is and why he did it and it is indeed a shocking twist.  I’m not sure that the Robins will ever be the same after what happens here, but I will be reading and can’t wait for the shit to hit the fan.  

I loved this issue.  Tom King gives fans of Grayson the best issue since #12 (which was incredible) and also an incredible Robin War tie-in.  So many things are going on behind the scene in this Robin War and King shows us the tip of the iceberg to get us excited and I am indeed just that.

Mikel Janin’s art is also incredible.  His Red Robin may be the best I’ve ever seen and everything else looks so good and nails it for me...he is my favorite artist working in comics today.   Before I forget, throw in Jeromy Cox as my favorite colorist because these two make incredible art together.

Bits and Pieces:

This is that rare combination, a great tie-in that is also a great regular issue as well.  This issue rockets the Robin War forward and I am so excited to see what happens next.   Grayson has been my favorite DC book for a while and I hope this issue shows people not yet reading it what they’ve been missing.  By that, I mean great characterizations, dialogue, story and art.  That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.



  1. There was some clunky dialogue early on in the issue but overall I loved this story and especially Grayson's plot to keep the Robins out of harm's way--for once, a plan so crazy, it just might work! And did work! So glad to see Janin back, he's got such a great touch and every character had their own visual identity. Dunno if I'd have gone 9.5 but it was definitely an awesome read.

  2. That was a super cool twist I didnt see coming ... loved the issue for sure. On to issue 3 of Robin War and bonus points for the easy numbering on the issues covers. Very Un-Superman-esque and that makes me happy.

  3. I still don't get why he arranged for Jason, Tim and Damien to get caught. I mean, sure I guess if he wanted to burn down the entire legacy after him it makes sense, but geez. Those three still have secret identities and this is the most surefire way for them to be outed.