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Comic Book / Grayson

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Grayson is a monthly Comic Book series published by DC Comics, started in July of 2014, written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, with art primarily by Mikel Janin. Following the events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson is presumed dead by most of the world, and Batman takes this as an opportunity to have Dick infiltrate Spyral, an espionage organisation intent on discovering the identities of the world's superheroes. Along for the ride is Helena Bertinelli, who was declared dead in Worlds' Finest, but is instead revealed to be an agent of Spyral.

In March 2016, it was revealed that, as part of the DC Rebirth initiative, Grayson will be spun back off into Nightwing, with Dick returning to his former role, and Tim Seeley will stay as writer. Helena, however, is part of the Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series.


Since this series is spinning out of Forever Evil, spoilers for that series will be unmarked.

Tropes applying to Grayson

  • The Ace: Helena Bertinelli, aka Matron, and Tiger, aka Agent 1, seem to be Spyral's top spies.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • Fans noticed very early that Dick has basically become Bucky Barnes: after his death was faked in a major crossover event, he used it as a cover to free himself up for the kind of heavy-duty espionage his mentor can't do, but the similarities end there. Winter Soldier was spy noir and had a much darker tone, whereas Grayson is more akin to a Bond movie with its more playful style.
    • The less obvious parallel is that the new series is essentially the male DC version of Marvel's Black Widow.
    • A pop art infused sci-fi international spy adventure series involving a womanizing super-agent is inevitably going to bring comparisons to the Jim Steranko era Nick Fury.
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  • Anti-Villain: So far, Spyral has yet to do anything particularly villainous. Aside from Mister Minos trying to kill Grayson with the Paragon Template, but he died soon after and was replaced.
  • Arc Villain: Given a Lampshade Hanging with Mister Minos by Agent Zero in the end of the first arc. Despite feeling he was better than other villains, he had a singular obsession, much like many of the villains in Batman's Rogues Gallery: secrets.
  • The Atoner: Implied to be the motivation of Mister Minos.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Helena Bertinelli, who was said to be dead in Worlds' Finest, is alive here.
    • As of issue #11, Agent 8.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Shades of this between Dick and... everyone. Dick and Helena get a lot, but there's also some between Dick and Midnighter and Dick and Batgirl whenever she appears.
  • Cartwright Curse: Between this book and New 52 Nightwing, every woman that Dick has slept with has died.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Tiger, Mr. Minos, Lex Luthor, and Midnighter have a few scenes among them.
  • The Comically Serious: Helena, when she's partnered up with Dick
  • Continuity Lockout: The series reads pretty well on its own, but the issue of Agent Zero comes up if you haven't read Batman, Incorporated. Anyone who's read Inc. will immediately know who she is (Kathy Kane), and if you haven't read it, the reveal that Doctor Netz holds a grudge against her sister doesn't reference Agent Zero's backstory. Though by this point, Agent Zero has already been established as The Man Behind the Man, having killed Mr. Minos after explaining her goal to ensare Dick into Spyral.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In the "Gut Feelings" issue, over Dick's protest, Spyral chooses to make Dr. Ashemoor a deal; give up the biomech digestive enhancer that gives her Super Speed in exchange for a Horror Hunger that has driven her to cannibalism, and she can become a fully licensed scientist again working with Spyral in a properly equipped lab with unlimited funding.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Somewhat averted. Dick is shown to be fine with throwing guns, or using them to set off explosives. However, he has gone out of his way to not fire upon another human being.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Spyder comes off as this in its (their?) first appearance.
  • Enemy Mine: Dick and Midnighter team up to stop the Fist of Cain from setting off a telepathic assault on a crowd.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Or rather, a re-establishing character moment. Dick's use of a gun as a batarang in the opening pages of the first issue makes it clear that this is still the same Dick Grayson that fans love.
  • Eye Scream: A miniaturized Keshi punches Helena in the eye in issue #18, resulting in a large gout of blood.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Dick, who many think was killed by the Crime Syndicate.
    • Helena Bertinelli was also thought to be dead. It seems that Spyral recruits their agents this way.
    • Alia/Agent 8, whom we saw take a pretty fatal-looking injury, returns alive and well.
  • Female Gaze:
    • There's a lot of attention to how good Dick looks... and then there's this comment from Midnighter:
      Midnighter: Your nifty Hypnos tech trick may make it so I can't see Spyral agents' faces... but I'd know that ass anywhere.
    • There's a brief meeting between John Constantine and Dick in the 2016 Annual comic, during which Constantine gets distracted by Dick's ass, and Dick himself gets one long underwear-only scene while being tied up and assaulted by a bunch of vampires in very sexualized poses (several pretty female ones, and then one male Nosferatu-style one, who actually happily thanks Dick for "such a luscious last meal" while Dick burns him to death - and Dick doesn't even seem slightly disturbed about any of this.note ) And then, there's this line:
      John Constantine: [If I was summoned here to get a second meeting with him] I hope you're all over eighteen, cause this is going to get adult-rated very fast.
  • Femme Fatale: Helena, though in the first issue she's beaten to it by an enemy Femme Fatale.
  • Fish out of Water: A running theme is that Dick is an idealistic superhero working in an environment that values pragmatism and lies over idealism and honesty.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Mixed with Homoerotic Subtext. Midnighter is definitely not on the side of Spyral, but he continuously talks about how good looking Dick Grayson is. The fact that Midnighter is actually homosexual does not help dispel these feelings in readers.
  • Good Versus Good: Dick vs Midnighter, thanks to Poor Communication Kills. During their third encounter, Midnighter boasted about how he could take down Spyral. If he had kept his mouth shut and not threatened to hurt Helena, Dick might have just negotiated a truce with him.
  • Hero Antagonist: Midnighter appears to play this role, in a Good Is Not Nice variety.
    Mr. Minos: He is an angry, brutal, and resentful man... but he is also a man of duty.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Mixed with Foe Romance Subtext. Midnighter is definitely not on the side of Spyral, but he continuously talks about how good looking Dick Grayson is. The fact that Midnighter is actually homosexual does not help dispel these feelings in readers.
    • Issue 9 has it with Agent 1.
      Agent 1: (first words out of flashback in the issue) All right, Dick Grayson, get your clothes off.
      Dick: (after putting on a suit) Am I straight?
    • In the 2016 Annual comic with John Constantine, though it's more open and unashamed lusting than "subtext" on Constantine's part, and Dick rebuffs his advances.
  • Honey Pot: Dick himself has acted as one.
  • Horror Hunger: Whilst in possession of the biomech digestive enhancer, Dr. Ashemoor is forced to consume vast amounts of calories to counteract the rapid aging effect that comes from using her Super Speed. A combination of this, a need to get rid of the bodies of various spies who track her down and implied Sanity Slippage leads to her devouring the corpses those who came after her.
  • Hot Teacher:
    • Helena is an instructor at St. Hadriana's Finishing School.
    • Dick, as of the fourth issue; after some of the students discover he's living at the school, he's given the cover of being a homosexual French acrobatics teacher. While the homosexual part Mr Minos decided on to use as a way to turn the girls off, its quickly lampshaded that it does nothing but add to the appeal.
  • Hypocrite: Mr. Minos talks of how "all will be unmasked" while erasing all evidence that could reveal his identity down to a microscopic level.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: While Dick has always been able to throw objects and have them bounce, they were specially designed. Here, he bounces a pistol off of a telephone pole while on top of a moving train.
  • It's Personal: Minos' attitude notably changes whenever a case involves the Fist of Cain. It's implied that he had an unpleasant history with them back when he had a face.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Mr. Minos seems very aware that he's a James Bond villain, even calling himself "very 60s Fleming".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Agent 8 laments that superheroes all come from "weird places" and not normal towns like the one she grew up in: Smallville, Kansas.
    Agent 8: See that's the trouble with you super-types, you're all from somewhere strange. No Smallville Graduates in the sky.
  • Meaningful Echo: Tom King has a habit of developing themes through the repetition of spoken phrases in different contexts.
  • Mind Control: Spyral uses Hypnos for this purpose. Dick is inexperienced in their use, thus making it a last resort for him.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Word of God says this series will explore Dick's position as one. Acknowledged in-universe, as he's living at a private high school for girls. And then he gets given the cover of being their new gay French Acrobatics teacher. And again in a crossover with Detective Comics, where he shows up at a club in Belarus looking for information, and the club owner automatically assumes that he's here to seduce her. He goes along, at least until he gets the information he needs.
  • Mythology Gag: When re-uniting with Bruce and Barbara, several quotes spoken by the respective characters towards Dick are scattered on the page. Some of those quotes are from stories that certainly would not make sense in the current canon, such as the Bronze Age stories, and the infamous All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Since he is undercover, Dick sometimes has to play dumb in order to smuggle information out from under Spyral's noses. Example: the lollipop scene.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Issue #30 of Nightwing was blatantly one for this series.
  • Properly Paranoid: Helena keeps her crossbow sights off-target. It ends up saving her life.
  • Race Lift: Helena Bertinelli, who became a darker skinned variation of Italian.
  • Really Gets Around: A Chick Magnet character who already has a reputation being thrust into a James Bond role where he encounters attractive women in their 20s? Yeah, it's no surprise where this is going...
  • Running Gag: The number of people who are able to recognize Dick from his butt alone has been steadily increasing. Granted, they are Midnighter, who has a supercomputer in his head, and Barbara Gordon, who has a photographic memory.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Dick does this to Spyral, after finding out that Bruce is MIA, that Spyral can manipulate his body, and that Helena has been dealing with Lex Luthor.
  • Secret Keeper: Spyral is trying to discover the identities of Earth's superheroes. However, part of the reason they're keeping the secrets is likely because they aren't "100% sure'' that they got them right, but viewing the monitors, it's clear they do.
  • Sequel Series:
    • For Nightwing. Sort of. While the series technically is one to Nightwing due to the 30th issue of that series essentially being Grayson's #0 and being the "next stage" in Dick's life, it does not use any of the supporting cast of Nightwing, nor does it require you to read that series, other than the 30th issue.
    • It's arguably more of a direct sequel to Grant Morrison's Batman, Incorporated. It features the St. Hadrian's School introduced in that run, follows up on the story of the Netz family, and Spyral is given more exploration (they were name dropped as the Hood's employer, but all we knew was they were concerned with Batman's secret identity).
  • Ship Tease:
    • The series wasted no time launching the Helena Bertinelli/Dick Grayson ship, or rather relaunching it, since before the New 52, the two had briefly dated. And they receive a Relationship Upgrade in the alternate future tie-in.
    • However, the series pushes the Dick/Babs ship even harder, with it being made clear that Dick loves Barbara.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Issue 6, Grayson tells Midnighter he had become "a spider man" instead of what he used to be, referencing his place in Spy Fiction now. Many have noted similarities between his personality and that of the Marvel Comics superhero.
    • The series' final issue, #20, ends on a shot of Dick pulling his shirt apart to reveal his blue Nightwing symbol, a la Superman.
  • Spanner in the Works: Whatever Agent Zero's plan is for Dick, Frau Netz and Agent 8 seem to have their own.
  • Spy Fiction: The entire series is this, in a mixture between the Tuxedo and Martini variant in tone with underpinnings of the more realistic one as well.
  • Take That: When facing an evil doppleganger, Dick goes on a rant about how every cliched story about an evil doppleganger ultimately ends up being a Clayface story.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Between Helena, Tiger, and Midnighter, everyone that Dick has ever worked with can barely stand his happy-go-lucky daredevil antics. Helena does seem to warm up to him, however. Tiger even has a catchphrase:
    Tiger: Dick Grayson, you're an idiot.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • The Futures End tie-in used a Back to Front structure in which each page was embedded with hidden messages and symbolism. It would be nearly impossible to fully understand the plot without reading the book a second time, preferably in reverse order, with a careful eye on dialogue. Many "professional" reviewers (such as IGN and Newsarama) didn't bother, and missed out on the actual story.
    • Further issues have seem to get this as well, with fans often praising the book for its multi-layered writing, while some critics who skimmed over the issue complain about the lack of a hand-holding narrative.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    Helena: Dick Grayson is not dead. If he is, I will kill him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Spyral's main goal is to discover the identities of masked superheroes. Though it is somewhat hypocritical, given their use of Hypnos to hide their own identities. However, they do seem very interested in saving innocent lives.
    • The Gardener was willing to let innocents die in order to bring awareness to the superhuman arms race.
  • The Worf Effect: Midnighter spends most of his issues being somehow beaten by Dick Grayson, despite the fact that he is a superhuman, darker version of Grayson's former mentor.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The entire first arc, concerning the body parts of the Paragon Template, was a gambit by Kathy Kane to lure Dick into her employ.
  • You Are Number 6: Many of the agents are given numbered codenames, in the vein of "Agent [Number]". Dick in particular is Agent 37.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Helena becomes the new head of Spyral after killing Mr. Minos.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: What happens to Mr. Minos after he attempts to betray Spyral's secrets.

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