After a Bat-family reunion in Gotham and a World’s Finest team-up with Superman, Dick Grayson has a rather tantalizing return to Spyral. Once again partnered with Agent One, Grayson has to maintain his double agent status to uncover the identity of Agent Zero. Will he survive? Will he not have clothes on at some point in this issue? Let’s find out!

GRAYSON #13 BY TIM SEELEY, TOM KING, AND MIKEL JANIN

Issue 12 of GRAYSON was not only a major turning point for the series with Dick returning to main player status in the DCU but the best issue of the run so far. The problems that I encountered with issue 13 have nothing to do with being a mediocre follow up to such a great issue but the sudden, overwhelming amount of DC characters in the issue. Tim Seeley and Tom King’s story becomes crowded and disjointed for the first time but do dedicated readers need to worry? Well, I’m not entirely sure.

READ: Want to catch up? Check out our review for GRAYSON #13!

Grayson #13 starts out with our beloved protagonist having a rather inappropriate examination upon his return to Spyral. As Director Bertinelli apologizes to him for the encounter with Luthor and Grayson’s murderous doppelgänger, Dick gets an impromptu probing from Doctor Netz, an action that led to an uproar on social media but I’ll get to that later. He is then sent out on an out to sea mission with Agent One – who is no longer trustworthy – chaperon the delivery of the Skin of Robert the Bruce’s Beast. This leads to a very entertaining fight between the spies and Tiger Shark, who is seriously creepy as the leader of a shark-submarine based pirate group. After disposing of the group with a Brother-Eye look-a-like pair of robots called Deep Eyes, the two agents take a brief rest.

Dick Grayson strip search by Spyral

During the break, Grayson contacts Red Robin for updates on the identity of Agent Zero, who we learn is Luka Netz. The terrifying part of this revelation is that the pair learn she has been watching Dick since his time as Robin, trying to find out Batman’s identity for years. In context with her sexualization of Grayson in the previous issue, it’s a little creepy knowing now that she’s seen him in action since he was a boy. Regardless, Red Robin passes on the information that Netz is currently located in Berlin and for Dick to get to Berlin, he needs to call in a favor from Midnighter. The issue then takes a shift to Brazil as Matron Bertinelli of Spyral confronts every major intelligence organization in the DCU and threatens them if any one tries to cross Spyral again. In the shadows, it looks like Grifter is a head of one of these organizations so we may be seeing him becoming a recurring character in the series. The issue once again takes a shift and brings the focus on the Gardener from the God Garden and Ladytron in Berlin as they search for signs of human genetic experiments. All of the players then enter the stage at once as Midnighter, Agent Zero, Agent One, and Grayson all take their places in Berlin. The only problem? Agent Zero already knows everyone is there.

This issue was pretty frustrating to read for me and I’ll be blunt about it; it reads more like an issue of BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL than of GRAYSON. Seeley’s script is off-balance and overcrowded; there are just too many characters in this issue and that has an effect on every aspect of the story. The “sweet humble brag, brah” comment Dick makes to Tim and the seduction of Helena conversation that followed just seemed so out of place as characters typically don’t interact in that way in this comic. The transitions within this issue also felt awkward and rushed with scenes bouncing around large amounts of dialogue. The dialogue was great in a comic that normally focuses on action over information, constantly keeping the reader on edge for more. Here however it makes Janin’s art feel stiff for the first time in the series. GRAYSON has also never been a comic easily picked up by new readers but there were two points in this issue where readers were directed to previous issues to understand the plot. It seemed like after issue 12, GRAYSON would become an easier book to jump on to but thankfully, it is still a difficult mystery book that readers have to work hard to understand. On a positive note, “the eyes of the deep weep electric tears”, is one of the single coolest weapon activations of all time.

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There is something to be said about the sexual tropes that have been prominent in the series of late. While the portrayal of Grayson has been sexually provocative in a Bond-esque trope, this issue pushed a button for a few fans over the apparent lack of consent in the probing scene. As a long time reader of this series, I easily waved it off as another “Sexy Batman” joke that DC has been playing at with Dick Grayson for the past year. Yet, am I wrong for simply laughing it off? Is this an example of male objectification gone too far? This was clearly an attempt at humor but for some, it was a blurred line that comic book fans are unfortunately used to seeing female characters exposed to. And I’m not sure how I feel about it, to be honest, every individual who reads this will have a different perspective on the subject and I’d like to hear other peoples’ reactions

The revelation Agent Zero's identity by Red Robin

Awkward storytelling and objectification aside, this was a very weak issue of Grayson. I have a personal fear that returning to Gotham is going to slowly kill my favorite series as the series individuality and espionage theme will be consumed by BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL as well as ROBIN WAR. Are the days of Grayson, super spy, behind us? Has the reign of “Sexy Batman” begun? Check in with me next month for a review of GRAYSON issue 14!

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