The bright knight
THE name is Grayson. Dick Grayson. You may have heard the name before. Former child acrobat, ex-Boy Wonder, and one-time Batman, the man previously known as Nightwing has shed the spandex, and is now going by his real name, as Agent 37 in the spy organisation known (somewhat unimaginatively) as Spyral.
Following Dick’s “death” and the revelation of his secret identity at the end of Forever Evil, Batman assigned him his most dangerous mission yet – give up his costume and infiltrate Spyral to find out what they’re up to.
His new life as a secret agent starts off here with a somewhat clichéd mission, with Dick boarding a train via the roof, in disguise, to secure an asset with the help of a certain Helena Bertinelli (better known, pre-New 52, as Huntress).
Things get interesting when Stormwatch’s resident brawler Midnighter shows up to put a spanner in Dick’s mission, which, of course, gives Dick a chance to show off his superhero skills as well.
Grayson #1 wastes no time in showing us just how different Dick’s life is now (even the cover shows him toting a gun, usually a big no-no in Batman’s book). As Nightwing/Robin/Batman, his domain was the shadows of the night, but here, we see Dick in a new light – lots of light, for that matter.
Compared to the relative darkness of the Bat-books, Dick Grayson’s new life is awash with sunlight, ramming home the point that his wings are no longer confined to the night.
Making his first appearance as Agent 37 in disguise (even if it is just a blonde wig), the dashing Dick makes for a decent secret agent. Though he does get to show off his fighting and acrobatic skills later on, but somehow, seeing him do superhero things without a superhero costume (in broad daylight, no less) does take a little getting used to.
The appearance of Midnighter in this series does raise some interesting possibilities, though – will he and the Stormwatch team (which had its own series cancelled recently) be involved as well? If so, what is their interest in Spyral and how will this affect Dick’s mission?
Also, with Kathy Kane (the original Batwoman) also involved in Spyral, will we see an appearance by the current Batwoman, Kate Kane, going up against Dick as well? And what is Helena Bertinelli’s role in the overall story? Will she become Huntress one day (replacing the current one, who is actually Helena Wayne, daughter of Earth 2’s Batman and Catwoman)?
With a spy-shaped hole to fill in the New 52, using a familiar face like Dick to elevate one of its already existing organisations seems like a shrewd move on DC’s part, though Spyral still has a long way to go before they can rival the success of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. and its secret agents (Black Widow, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, etc).
Of course, it all depends on how Dick Grayson’s new life as Agent 37 pans out. The change in his status quo shouldn’t be too big a problem – this is a former Robin/Nightwing/Batman after all. Nevertheless, having spent such a long time being defined by his costumes, being overshadowed by his association with Batman, and enduring so many changes in his superhero identity, it somehow seems fitting that Dick Grayson finally has an identity that is definitely his own.
Now, let’s hope that things stay that way for a while, and that DC doesn’t decide to stir and shake things up further for poor old Dick ...