Helena Bertinelli, the new head of Spyral, has a bounty on her head. Rival agencies Checkmate and the Syndicate have had enough of her and want her dead. Her two best agents, 1 (Tiger), and 37 (Grayson), have gone rogue and she has no one to protect her. Once Dick hears Helena is in danger, he needs to make a choice. Does he give himself up to the agency that wants to kill him, to save the woman he loves? Or does he hope that she can hold her own? Dick Grayson must confront himself once and for all: who is he, truly? Dick Grayson, Robin, Nightwing, Agent 37, all of them, or none of the above?
This is unfortunately the last volume in Grayson‘s run. And what a thrilling conclusion it is! In addition to the last few volumes, Annual #3 is included in this trade paperback. It’s a collection of short stories about Agent 37 and his spy skills, told from the perspective of a few different characters who witnessed him in action.
Overall, this series is a refreshing take on the superhero genre. Though characters who are, or used to be, superheroes, are the stars of the show, the James Bond twist is enough to keep things fresh without being too forced, cheesy, or dark. The breakneck pacing ensures you will not be able to put it down until the very end. The art is your standard comic book art, not offering much that’s new, but I believe that was a well-made decision to keep readers focused on the story and tension. Recommended for some high-energy summer reading.
Seeley, Tim, Tom King, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Roge Antonio. Grayson (Vol. 5): Spyral’s End. 2017.
Teenagers are rising in Gotham under the common banner of Robin. They are banding together to protect the city in Batman’s absence. However, recent legislation pushed through by Councilwoman Noctua has made it illegal for anyone in Gotham to claim they’re a Robin, or even sport Robin paraphernalia. Gotham City PD is enthusiastically enforcing the new law. The real Robins, both old and new – Jason Todd (Red Hood), Tim Drake (Red Robin), and Damian Wayne (Robin) – are looking on in horror as these teens are being harrassed and arrested under the new law. They call on the only person they know who can help – Dick Grayson, known as Agent 37, Nightwing, and the original Robin. Together, they must make a choice. Will the Robins help these teenager, or turn them in as outlaws?
This volume compiles part of the story of the Robin War event that took place during Batman/Batfamily’s New 52 storyline. The Court of Owls play an integral role, this time as the Parliament of Owls, indicating that they have expanded beyond Gotham. It was refreshing to see the Robins on their own, out from under the shadow of the Bat. They have to figure out what to do, all on their own, without their mentor and guardian’s help. It solidifies that each of these characters are their own people and are each Robins, and heroes, in their own right.
Many artists worked on the Robin War, and thus the art is more varied than it’s been during Grayson. Overall it was a little looser, angular, and stylized than Grayson’s more realistic look. We do return back to Grayson after the Robin War, for about the second half the book, where Mikel Janin’s art takes center stage once again.
While I am enjoying Grayson very much, Robin War was the highlight of this volume for me. We got a little more variety in the art and it showcased all the Robins in the long history of the character. The story was an effective way for us to see that the sidekicks can shine just as much as their big box counterparts!
King, Tom, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin, and Jeromy Cox. Grayson (Vol. 4): A Ghost in the Tomb. 2016.
With Mr. Minos dead under mysterious circumstances, Helena has assumed his role as director of Spyral. This leaves Dick Grayson stuck with Agent 1, Tiger, as his partner. One of Helena’s first assignments is finding out who is murdering rival spies. That someone appears to be setting Dick up. In an attempt to leave Spyral and return home, Dick meets with Batman – only to find that Bruce can no longer remember him, or remember he was even Batman. He turns to other members of the Batfamily, the only ones who are able to help him solve this latest mystery. However, not all of them are happy to see him again, especially as they thought he was dead…
First of all, I was cheering Helena’s rise to power. Break that glass ceiling! I’m sure Helena has her own secrets, and we will uncover Mr. Minos’ and the rest of Spyral’s, as the series goes on.
I have to admit this one lost me a bit, as I don’t recall Batman becoming an amnesiac at any point during the New 52 – then again, I haven’t read a whole lot of it. However, it did make for an interesting development in that Batman was NOT there to save the day for his protégé for once. The rest of the Batfamily has to get Dick out of this conundrum on their own, which I know they can!
The art has been consistent, and consistently excellent, as they’ve only had Mikel Janin as the artist so far. In my opinion, this is the best design move they could have made. The plot has so many twists and turns that the artist and art styles constantly changing as well would just be too much.
Looking forward to the next volume!
Seeley, Tim, Tom King, Mikel Janin, and Jeromy Cox. Grayson (Vol. 3): Nemesis. 2016.
After crash-landing in the desert with his partner Helena, the deadly Midnighter, and a baby containing the heart of the Paragon, Dick has no choice but to walk to civilization – 200 miles away. To save the baby, Dick will walk. Midnighter follows, determined to take the baby, and the heart, for his own purposes. He asks questions that Dick himself is trying to get to the bottom of. Why does Spyral need the pieces of the Paragon? Who exactly is Mr. Minos, and what is his endgame? Will their questions on the secrets of Spyral die with the four in the desert, or will they live to figure it out?
The action and intrigue continue from Volume 1. We do see here a gentler side of Dick’s character, as he cares for the baby and plows onward through the desert. Midnighter is a little-known character, so it was nice to see him make an appearance in this volume. As we don’t yet know his motivations or alignment with Spyral, he only adds another layer of intrigue that we can unravel later on.
… I could go on, and leave a proper review, but I believe this panel, which is probably the greatest known to man, will just about sum up:
My work here is done ;D
Seeley, Tim, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney, and Jeremy Cox. Grayson (Vol. 2): We All Die at Dawn. 2016.
Dick Grayson is a hero to many. During the Forever Evil storyline, Nightwing was unmasked, his secret identity revealed, and (seemingly) killed on camera to millions of viewers. To many, that hero is now a dead man… but they don’t know Dick. The former Boy Wonder is alive, well, and now goes by Agent 37 at the spy agency called Spyral. Partnered with Helena Bertinelli, the agent known as Matron, they hunt down pieces of the slain god Paragon, whose organs have the potential to become weapons of mass destruction. However, Spyral’s lead man, Mister Minos, has another motive: he wants to use these pieces to discover the secret identity of every superhero on Earth. Of course, Batman is on to Mister Minos’ duplicity – and Dick is his man on the inside. Though Dick is, for all intents and purposes, dead to the rest of the world, he has more to lose now than ever: his sense of self.
There have been a few times in Rebirth where Dick and Helena’s spy days have been referenced, and I was curious for more context. This is a solid start to the series. We’ve seen Dick constantly struggle to get out of Batman’s shadow (it’s partially why he became Nightwing), so it will be very interesting to see if and how he manages to do it here, especially if he’s still working with the Dark Knight.
Speaking of Batman, it is a little annoying how he seems to know everything… including that a super-secret spy agency is up to no good. I’m curious to see how he knew this, and I’m sure it will be revealed as the story goes on. Also yet to be revealed are Helena’s motives for joining Spyral. And how a girl’s boarding school became their front! There’s a lot of fun to be had here, but intrigue also.
The art is nothing to write home about. It’s certainly servicable: anatomy is accurate, expressions and lighting are natural, and backgrounds are understandably toned down to focus on the characters and action. But it suffers in that it’s in your run-of-the-mill, everyday comic book style. While there’s nothing unique offered here in the art style, it’s a solid foundation from which to build a graphic novel in which the story has more focus than the art. I, for one, am looking forward to more of the story!
Seeley, Tim, Tom King, Mikel Janín, Stephen Mooney, and Jeromy Cox. Grayson (Vol. 1): Agents of Spyral. 2015.
For the fifth year in a row, I have brought Free Comic Book Day to my library. I pick up a good selection of titles from my favorite comic book store, Graham Crackers, and offer them to the library patrons when they come in. I also had some Star Wars and superhero crafts available for kids to do as well. I know, I know…I’m pretty awesome to offer such epicness to my library community, and this year we had the biggest crowd yet. As an added bonus, I love getting a sneak peek of the titles, and this year I choose seven.
Hope proved to be my favorite of the seven stories I picked up. It introduced the story about Julie, a mother who is secretly an Ultra and keeping her secret hero identity even from her husband and daughter. When a car accident with her family reveals her secret, Julie’s life is upended and her daughter is taken from her. This was strong introduction with very promising story lines, in addition to the bright clean art. Perhaps because I am a mom myself, I could imagine myself in her shoes (plus who doesn’t wonder what they’d do if they unexpectedly obtained super powers).
As soon as I saw a pug on the front cover, I knew immediately that Mike Norton of Revival fame was the illustrator, so this was a must read for me. This story is mash up of two existing comics- Grumble, with a physic and wisecracking pug, plus The Goon, a muscled fighter of supernatural creatures. It was odd pairing of characters, definitely more geared for existing fans of either series vs a new reader like myself. At the end there was a reprint of the story Hillbilly.
My Favorite Things Is Monsters took the comic world by storm and for good reason: the author/illustrator Emil Ferris is crazy talented. In this comic three vignettes are offered- one that describes Ferris’s path to publication, a short about Karen and her brother Deeze talking to neighbors and a how-to-draw-a-monster segment.
In this issue we get a small, touching scene between Nancy and Steve, as Nancy is concerned her little brother Mike is not coping well after their monstrous adventures. They try to draw him out by encouraging him to return to his involvement with his role playing games. There is an additional Black Hammer story afterwards, which introduced me to Madame Dragonfly.
This issue had a few Marvel stories in them, and like I said after reading last year’s FCBD issue, it can be hard for someone who is mostly a fan through the movies to connect with these stories that vary in author voice, illustration style and time period. The first story had some heroes that I don’t usually associate with the Avengers, such as Ghost Rider and Blade, so that was amusing at one level. The second story, The Savage Avengers, had a much grittier vibe and featured Wolverine.
This issue contains two stories- one about Venom and his reemergence, and the second one is a light hearted romp between original Spider-Man Peter and the younger Miles. The first story is very dark and violent, so I found it interesting that they paired it with the next story that was all about the two Spideys arguing over pizza and could be read by a younger demographic than the first story.
Blood Shot gets yet another revamp, this time under author Tim Seeley. I read Bloodshot: Salvation for the first time last year, and was intrigued by this soldier of fortune, who would just like to be free of the shadowy agency Project Rising Spirit and the super powers he had forced on him that transform him. In this story, he saves a scientist from a dangerous cult and it serves as a prequel to the upcoming series.
All in all, I felt I picked up some strong titles. I was most intrigued with Hope, and liked the peeks into Stranger Things and My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. The others were good reading, but the free issues won’t make me pursue the series.
Last Friday, when I reviewed the last volume of Revival, I said “My love affair with Revival has come to a close”. Little did I know that I was wrong- dead wrong. It was announced at the C2E2 Revival panel on Sunday that a live action film is in the works!!! Tim Seeley and Sarah Fisher are writing the screenplay, and Luke Boyce will be directing through Shatterglass Films. Production starts in 2018, with no release date yet.
I am so very excited at this development, and am eager to hear who they will cast for Dana and Em. As for the pivotal role of Dr. McKay, I happen to know the perfect person to play her. I shall patiently await a call from the director 😉
In the meantime, enjoy this teaser trailer that sets the tone for this outstanding supernatural thriller.
My love affair with Revival has drawn to a close. When I discovered the series a year ago, there were six volumes already out, and I eagerly looked forward to the next two volumes as the story came to an epic conclusion.
Volume 7: Forward
There are entirely too many plot threads and characters in this next to last volume for me to imagine them adequately wrapped up in the upcoming final volume. Not only that, we were introduced to a few more…an Amish assassin and her daughter. What???
Now, I really enjoyed the what he/she wanted in life vs what they got storylines. Reality can end up being very different than what you envisioned, so this was great character development for some of the Wausau residents.
General Cale has rounded up the ghosts and continues to keep the Revivers in a holding facility, and it is unclear as to how much she really knows, and the motivations for her villainy. The ending of this volume throws everything into chaos, with many characters on the run. Not many puzzle pieces have fallen into place for me yet, so the ending of this series is anybody’s guess. I look forward to seeing how Seeley and Norton plan on wrapping up this intriguing series and hope that my favorite characters have a worthy conclusion to this mystery.
Volume 8: Just Stay A Little Bit Longer
The last volume was a poignant ending to the complete series, and felt true to the beginning. The series had such a promising start, and while I struggled a bit in the middle wondering where the mystery was headed and the climax was a bit rushed, it came together beautifully at the end.
There was a lot to cover in the conclusion of the series, as General Cale, the splinter militia groups and the escaped Revivers are in the woods and preparing for battle. Dana has finally put together the clues of who killed her sister Em (which made her a Reviver) and confronts that person (I resisted spoiling it for you!). She learns the connection between Em’s dead former lover Professor Weimar, the killer, and yet another character we have met; as the trio that caused the whole Reviver phenomenon.
Dana, the pregnant(!) Em and her killer head to the river to try to rectify the damage and stop the carnage, as death and chaos erupt nearby. Sacrifices are made, yet parting words of love are shared and the uneasy allegiance they had to strike to stop the madness works. The two page spread of an imagined future between two of the characters was so beautiful, that I teared up, and reread it several times simply to experience it’s emotional power again.
A sweet two year flash forward continues to show the resolution of the character arcs, and while one of my favorites didn’t live, their death was not in vain. A tease of a possible continuation of the story concludes this powerful and complex rural noir series.
As icing on the cake, I won a contest to have myself drawn in as a cameo in the last issue, and was thrilled to portray a doctor in two panels in the last pages. I will be talking about this honor and showing people my picture in the book until my dying day. Not only was that opportunity the very coolest, it was in one of my absolute favorite graphic novels!
I will be keeping my eyes out for future work from the skilled team of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. These talented men created an amazing fictional world that kept me enthralled for a year, for Seeley knew how to create a thrilling series, and Norton’s fantastic illustrations elevated the story to new heights. So, if you haven’t already, read for yourself the entire thrilling mystery!
*Disclosure- The Deluxe Edition Four is not out until May, but I used the cover, as that is how I have organized past reviews. (Look at the hands on the left, for it looks like two hands holding each other- symbolism??)
The last issue of Revival, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Mike Norton, was published yesterday and I was honored to have a cameo in it!
Last month I was surprised to be contacted by Mike Norton who let me know he had selected me from a contest that I had entered in December to have my likeness included in the concluding issue of the horror/supernatural series Revival. To say that I was thrilled was an understatement. I wrote a post about it, but being a pessimist in nature, I worried everyday that it wouldn’t be included. I headed to Graham Crackers as soon as I got off work, and the moment I walked in, the manager called me over and handed me a stack of the comics they had set aside for me. I flipped through it, and there I was, near the end!
Revival has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered it last April. I have reviewed the first six volumes (Deluxe Edition One, Two & Three) and plan to do another review post of volumes seven and eight once the eighth volume is released in graphic novel form in mid April. I also included it when Kathleen and I wrote our best graphic novels of 2016, before I even found out that I would be in the last issue. In fact, I think my hashtags on Twitter about this series, is what put me on Mike Norton’s radar. It obviously was meant to be.
I have included some of the messages and pictures from my communication with Mike Norton. My cameo was added in on his last day of drawing, so I quickly had to send him photographs of myself. He based most of my likeness off my first photo, and then refined it, once he had more photographs of me. Details like my green eyes, and beauty mark on my left chin were added in too. It was amazing to see my likeness in cartoon form, and to see the stages that it went through, from the first sketch to the final colored panels.
The last issue was a poignant ending to the complete series, and felt true to the beginning. The series had such a promising start, and while I struggled a bit in the middle wondering where the mystery was headed, it came together beautifully at the end. The resolution of the character arcs made sense, even if a favorite of mine didn’t live to the end. Thank you to Mike Norton for my cameo and bravo to the extended team who created this outstanding story!