Rating: 4/5 – Huntress Takes Center Stage.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Lately I feel there have been some really compelling and entertaining new series coming out of the Batman family of titles. Gotham Academy; Gotham by Midnight and Grayson. Grayson is set outside of the world of Gotham, but it still has close ties to the infamous city, and of course to Batman. After five issues, DC has released it’s first Annual for the series that explores the origins of Helena Bertinelli, while telling an entertaining story full of deception and misdirection.
Writers Tom King and Tim Seeley leave superheroes completely out of this issue and the story is better because of it. Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli (aka Huntress) are both agents of Spyral these days, an organization that seems as evil as it is mysterious. Since Grayson is assumed to be dead after the events of Final Crisis, he’s now on a mission to infiltrate this organization from the inside. Although Grayson headlines the title, he takes a more limited role this issue and although it does explain some of Helena’s backstory, the majority of the story is told through the eyes of three new and standalone characters. A bomb maker tells his story of how he came to kidnap Helena and how he plans to give her up to rival crime boss St. Francis. King and Seeley’s development of the three main characters is fantastic considering that this is a one and done issue. All three of them have realistic dialogue throughout and are wonderfully rendered by artist Stephen Mooney.
Main series artist Mikel Janin takes this annual off as Mooney steps in. His art is rougher with a bit of a scratchy line, but it works in a story like this. Half of this issue takes place in the rain so his style absolutely sells the mood. Since there are no superheroes involved, Mooney uses facial expressions and body language to define the action and uses splash pages sparingly, but to great effect. The twists and turns throughout this issue never feel cheap, and Mooney delivers on them with realism and creative viewing angles.
Grayson continues to be one of DC’s best new titles and it’s great to see an Annual with the same level of quality that the monthly series has delivered since issue one. Each issue of Grayson has been a stand alone tale with the story tying into the greater arc, and this annual is no different. Although one of the main story reveals requires you having previous knowledge of Batman’s history, this story can be enjoyed all on its own. Grayson is a series that deserves to be read as King and Seeley continue to show how great a character Dick Grayson can be with our without Batman.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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