Just in time for the holidays, DC gives us the first annual for one of the year’s biggest series: Grayson.
While the annual deviates from its usual Janin artwork, it does give you 48 pages worth of story which includes origin information for Helena Bertinelli. Is it good?
Grayson Annual #1 (DC Comics)
I don’t think anyone realized the potential Grayson had when they first declared Dick’s transition from superhero to spy. While some people were OK with it, the majority actively disliked it, and now here we are, five issues into the series, and Seeley and King continue to prove what they’re able to do with the versatile character. The writing duo has really done a great job in creating a quality series that holds true to its espionage nature without turning to clichés. The art, the dialogue, the panel formatting, everything has been a contributing factor to the comic’s innovation and has helped create an expectation for each issue to be provide a fresh perspective or new dynamic. Now the reason I bring this up is because this annual offers an altered, and almost bizarre, story-telling format.
The only reason I deem the format bizarre is because our title character is actually absent for the majority of this issue which comes at an even bigger blow because it’s such a large issue. Am I opposed to it? Not exactly. Seeley and King are just continuing their trend of creative writing and still manufacture a quality story. However, in the case of an annual, you assume the issue will be highlighting the main character even more than usual, rather than less (But Dick just had issue four that glamourized and indulged him, so I guess it’s fair that he sacrifices some limelight for his annual). So what is this issue about if not Grayson?
The issue documents a mission as told through the criminal’s perspective. It takes place in Ireland and even delves into a bit of Irish culture and mythology, including the telling of the “Giants of the Causeway” legend. The myth coincides with the present story and, of course, works as a perfect analogy for the story’s events as only Seeley and King know how. However, for how long and detailed the story is, there isn’t much significance to the mission overall. Sure, you get a twist at the end, but you knew something was bound to happen. This annual is just another snapshot of a mission, similar to what we’ve been seeing, but there’s more dialogue and it unfolds more intricately.
Something significant that you can take away from this issue are pieces of Helena’s backstory. This issue explains that Helena is the daughter of Frank Bertinelli and the heir to the Sicilian mafia. This is stands up to Helena’s original backstory back during her Huntress days. Now Huntress has already been established in New 52, but her cowl is worn by Earth Two’s Helena Wayne (It’s all very confusing and I don’t want to get into it because it’s Christmas Eve and we all have better things to do).
Something I did dearly miss in the issue was Mikel Janin’s art which seems to have improved with every issue of Grayson thus far (The desert shots from issue #5 were amazing). Mooney has a slightly similar style, but lacks Janin’s detail, especially when it comes to the face. There are a few panels in the beginning of the issue that were a bit muddled and had me worried, but Mooney does a decent job for the rest of it. The cover is the only time we get to see a bit of Janin and I do like the incorporation of the original “Nightwing Blue” in the illustration of the title.
Is It Good?
Really the question we should be asking when it comes to annuals is: Is it worth the $5? And in this case it is. You get a very long issue that involves so much plot and information that it feels more cinematic than literary. The artwork isn’t quite as good as Janin and the storyline doesn’t pack as much “umph” as we’re used to, but still a great issue overall.