w. Tim Seeley
a. Mike Janin
4 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because the tag-line says it all:
” You Think You Know Nightwing….
You Don’t know Dick “
And it’s true. I know not everyone is on board with the new Grayson title (and some are realllly nuts, thinking the blonde hair was a permanent change) but I love the premise, and the ability to explore Dick Grayson outside of the box is too tempting to pass up. The character of Nightwing has been around for 30 years, and was always an ongoing evolution of Dick Grayson. Sidekick. Leader of Sidekick Team. Hero of his own standing. Replacing Batman. If you count replacing the hero you used to sidekick for as the pinnacle of sidekick’s career… Dick’s done it twice. And let’s face, in the guise of Nightwing, whether in Gotham, or near Gotham in Bludhaven, or showing up just about anywhere… Dick will always be a Batman-lite, with the light possibility of place-holder anytime Batman stubs his toe.
The new Grayson title (for those of you who didn’t read the Court of Owls arc, there is more to the name Grayson than you would think, and a deeper history to the bloodline than first revealed) will allow us to explore Nightwing in a new environment. And what better environment for an ex-trapeze artist, Batman-trained crime fighter and superhero detective than a double agent in the world’s most sinister super spy agency, Spyral!!! Seriously… name someone with a better skill set for this job! (okay Batman, but he’s busy!!!)
After the events of Forever Evil (I can waste your time recapping, but do the story justice and read it!) Nightwing’s secret identity as Dick Grayson was revealed to the world, and then was believed dead at the hands of the Crime Syndicate, not just to the public, but to his friends, family and co-workers (that would be the superhero community )…. with one exception. Batman.
Batman has a mission for Dick Grayson (see the final issue of Nightwing, #30 which really is a Grayson #0 for the details), that leads him directly into the clutches of Spyral. First introduced in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated series, Spyral was a Worldwide Spy Agency, specializing in the recruitment and/or assassination of super-humans. The agency became more insidious and behind the scenes after Otto Netz, an ex-german superspy became its leader, and began to work more autonomously, with its own agenda. (For the trippy Prisoner-like exploits of Batman vs. Spyral, check out Batman Incorporated!)
Now the agency has resurfaced, and Batman has the opportune time to manipulate Grayson into their hierarchy and gain valuable inside information… but with great danger should Dick be exposed (ha!)
Seeley and King pen a tale that captures the character of Dick Grayson magnificently! Applying the various skills he has learned over the years as a superhero, to spy-jobs (like kidnapping an over weight Russian superhuman time-bomb off a moving train in the middle of nowhere Siberia, while being fired at by Russian security agents) all the while maintaining the charm and carefree attitude that has been the hallmark of Dick’s personality since 1940.
The story is action packed and fast paced, with a nice glimpse into Dick’s new world. New gear, like a Hypnos Implant, giving the user temporary hypnotic abilities….with possible brain damage as a draw back. New adversaries; taking on the Midnighter , and surviving, which is no easy feat against someone so familiar with Dick (he has bionic implants to predict fight movements, that’s all I mean!!…honest! ; ) ). And a new partner… Helena Bertinelli
Now before all you Huntress fans go all homicidal…. since the New 52, the Huntress was revealed to have been shunted over to this Earth from Earth 2 (along with Powergirl) and took the identity of Helena Bertinelli… a deceased member of a crime family to cover her true parentage… Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman of Earth 2. So the name Helena Bertinelli is fair game, and in this case logically used, as Spyral recruits criminals and ex-heroes who are thought to be dead to do all their behind the scenes dirty work. So throttle down Huntress fans… it’s all going to be okay.
Now the art.
Mikel Janin is fantastic. I was a fan of all the over the top creative work he did on Justice League Dark, and was thrilled to see his takes on the rest of the DC universe, and caught glimpses of that in various crossovers (Trinity War, Forever Evil), and now to see him play in the real world, it’s jut as breath-taking. He justifiably lightens his palate, compared to his JLD work, and it only expands on how slick and energetic his style is. Janinis one of the few artists who can pull off realistic looking people and objects, yet maintain a flow of sequential storytelling that’s filled with action. I begged DC (via whiny blogs!) to give this guy a high-profile book, and that’s what it seems this creative team is going to make this title. A great first issue for new fans… and for old-time fans… it’s a cool step in the evolution of the character, and there’s nothing wrong with giving your old Dick a new adventure. (ha!)
Forever People #2
w. Dan DiDidio and Keith Giffen
a. Tom Grummet
The Gist: The students of New Genesis’ Academy of Higher Conscience of come to Earth as part of Highfather’s “Peace Corps” like plan to lend aid to underdeveloped planetary systems. As the former student’s fertilization of a barren land project begins to fail, the new crop of students and their mentor, Big Bear head to investigate. When the source of their trouble is revealed to be Apokoliptan, in the form of Mantis and his insect drones. A secret of Big Bear’s is revealed and a powerful word is uttered….. Taaru!
Who is the Infinty Man? Find out in Forever People #2!
Original Sin #5.1 Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm#1
w. Al Ewing & Jason Aaron
a. Simone Bianchi & Lee Garbett
4 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because the whole shoe-horning of Angela into the Marvel Universe by Bendis (WITH Gaiman consulting) left a bitter taste in my brain, and led to me dropping Guardians of the Galaxy. Now a we have seen before, someone step in to clean up the mess,….or at least just neaten it into manageable piles. Thank you Aaron and Ewing. For getting your brooms and mops out.
When the Watcher’s Eyeball exploded in downtown Manhattan, it sent a psychic wave to all present, revealing to them a secret from their past, a secret only the Watcher, in his infinite voyeurism, was privy to. Thor, along with most Marvel heroes, was at ground zero and was dealt a revelation… Thor has a sister!!!
The God of Thunder quickly leaves the battle to confront Freya, 1/3 of the All-Mother, and Thor’s birth mother, on Asgard. Freya denies the existence of his sister, and when Thor presses her for the truth, she state the impossibility of the situation… since she watched Thor’s sister die in front of her eyes.
And so begins her tale,of a great battle at the dawn of existence, with all of Asgard at war with the Angels of another realm. A long and bloody war was ended, when the Queen of Angel kidnapped the daughter of Odin and Freya to use as a bargaining chip for surrender. Odin, refusing to submit despite the knife at his child’s throat, forces the Queen’s bluff and she murder the infant child in front of her parents. Driven to a rage like never before, Odin destroys the Angelic Fleet and then sunders the tenth real from the remaining nine setting it adrift in the cosmos.
Thor believes his mother, but also believes his sister is still alive and sets out to find her. Ignoring warnings from Freya, Thor recruits Loki to help him find his sister. First stop…. the missing Tenth Realm!
Aaron and Ewing set the stage for what is sure to be a universe changing event for Thor and Loki with this #1 issue, giving you just what you want to bring you back for more. The brotherly dynamics of Thor and Loki are always fun to read, an Ewing captures Loki’s personality and Thor’s without missing a beat! Lee Garbett, who I had the pleasure of watching his style evolve from his day at DC and Valiant, til he seemed to hit his stride with Loki: Agent of Asgard. He kept his manga like layouts and line work, but added so much dimension with his use of shadowing inks. It’s worth checking out just to see his homage to Simonson in half-splash depicting Thor and Loki riding his chariot pulled by Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, Thor’s goat-steeds!
Hopefully, with this team behind the helm, Angela will find a better niche in the Marvel catalog, as well as a deeper connection to the Marvel Universe rather than just tripping over Wolverine’s time-stream breakage and falling into it. (Read Age of Ultron, if you can, to see what I’m talking about)
Fantastic Four #7
w. James Robinson
a. Leonard Kirk & Dean Haspiel
The Gist: The Fall of the Firt Family continues to take its toll on the FF, with yet another member reaching a critical point that just might end their superhero career! The Thing and the Human Torch’s friendship is no more! A revelation from the Watcher’s eye sends an angry Ben Grimm to confront the now power-less Johnny Storm. What terrible secret have Johnny and Reed kept from Ben for such a long time that it would lead The Thing to do the unthinkable ??? First Johnny loses his Torch abilities and now the Thing… a murderer? Robinson and Kirk continue to bring the best Fantastic Four story in years!!
w. Matt Kindt
a. Clayton Crain
4 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because Kindt and Crain’s interpretation of the future of the Valiant Universe and the Spirit Guardian of Japan’s adventures is a sci-fi comic reader’s wet dream. I don’t know which to rave about more…. Kindt’s gripping characterization or massive world building skills, or Crains techno-heavy gloss and gleamy artwork, that flows from page to page like the guy paints with Mercury or something. Forget being a Valiant fan, forget being interested in collecting a whole Universe’s worth of titles, Rai stands out. Not just as a great chapter in the supremely awesome Valiant re-launch, Rai can be read by anyone who has an appreciation for top shelf sci-fi action adventure. Plus being set 2000 years in the future, there is a disconnect from the there Valiant titles that let’s you appreciate Rai all on his own.
With the first murder committed in the orbiting nation-state of Japan, the country’s Spirit Guardian is sent to investigate by Father, the seemingly benevolent A.I. that controls all of Japan functions and keep the peace. After last issue’s explosive finale, it seemed that Rai’s investigation into the Raddies, anarchist radicals who defy Father’s law, role in the murder ended in his death. But there is more to Rai than meets the eye, and his legend continues to grow. Defeating the Raddies in their awesomely rendered retro hover cars is a piece of cake, getting to the man behind their actions…. a little harder. What does the mysteriously long-lived Dr. Silk have to do with the murder of an innocent woman? Why does Spylocke, a legendary super spy thought to be fictional, have the only witness to the crime, Lula, locked in his trunk? And what is his role in this grand conspiracy? And what is the connection between Rai and the murder victim?? Judging by Spylocke’s anticipation of Rai’s response when he finds out… it’ gonna be a doozy!!!
This book is a feast for the eyes, and a quencher for a brain thirsty for comic book coolness!
Royals Masters of War #6
w. Robbie Williams
a. Simon Coleby
The Gist: My favorite Vertigo mini-series of 2014 draws to a powerful conclusion. The final days of WWII are upon us, on this alternate world where Royal families from around the world have been super-powered being, passing on their powers genetically as they pass on titles since time immemorial. When a breach of the secret peace between the Royal Families brings the various factions into the frontlines of the war, devastation follows. Read this alternate history where the nobility of Britain, Germany and Japan come into super-human combat, and see how despite the interference of super-powered beings….. somethings are just meant to be, no matter what universe. War is Perpetual.
Last Week’s Surprise Pick:
Legendary Starlord #1
w. Sam Humphries
a. Paco Medina
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because I have to get my Guardians fix wherever I can (I won’t repeat my rant in the same article, see Original Sin #3.1 review above for that) and this one passed muster. When the Spartoi Army dispersed, they hid the Mandala gem, a jewel of immense value, in an orphanage on the edge of the Galaxy. Now it’s a race, between a team of Badoon mercenaries and Peter Quill, the Legendary Starlord, to get to the gem first. When the Badoon not only capture the gem, but take Starlord prisoner, his hopes seem pretty dim. But, there is a reason he’s Legendary folks….. and wait to you see him get out of this one!
And not only do you see a softer side of Peter, when you see what he does with the cash from his haul! And that mysterious person following Starlord across the galaxy…….. looks like Thor’s not the only one with a surprise sibling!!! Humphries and Medina are giving us a fun, space-faring story, showcasing Starlord’s personality as well as the cosmos of the Marvel universe. Good First issue read!
That’s it folks…. see ya next week!