Grayson takes a brief pause after two solid issues to take a trip into Dick Grayson’s possible future as the nascent series is touched by the Futures End month-long event. What is in store for the Dark Knight’s first Robin. While it seems pretty bleak (as many a dark possible future), this story serves more as a journey to Dick’s past through the lens of this future (should it come to fruition). With Dick Grayson trading the US for a rising Russian superpower, what could possibly happen?
King does something interesting in this issue in the fact he tells the story starting in the future, and then telling the tale in reverse. The only other time I’ve heard of this narrative device being used is in the Kaufman-Hart play Merrily We Roll Along and the Sondheim musical adaptation of that same play. Without revealing the beginning (end?) of the tale, it shows the aftermath of the “War of the Worlds” that affected this timeline, with Russia ruling over all of Asia and Europe thanks in part to the actions of Spyral agents Dick Grayson and Helena Bertinelli. This continent-wide nation is ruled by the infamous KGBeast, more recently seen being made an example by Amanda Waller in Assault on Arkham. This path is twisted and dark, and pushes against Dick’s moral code. But King shows us not only how this possible future is formed, it shows events that helped shape Dick into a hero, even in dark times. These include his time as Nightwing and as Robin. King also shows the growing relationship, and possible romance, between Dick and Helena, which makes this future potentially heartbreaking. Given that their relationship as co-workers has been a strong part of the story so far, it’s good to see that this continues even in the one shot. The story is well done, but the timey-wimey structure could potentially turn some readers off. There is a wonderful moment where Dick makes an immature joke, but it feels a bit out-of-place given what is seen on the preceding pages. King’s script is still very strong, and very daring given its reverse timeline plot device.
The art by Mooney fits this bleaker future, and even the lighter moments. There is a particular moment where Dick is comforting a child amid carnage and destruction that is very moving while being very frightening. His action scenes are dynamic, and his “sets”, so to speak, are well constructed. It’s also interesting that he and King have given Dick the outfit of Red Star, the Russian member of pre New 52 Teen Titans. However, his faces are to be desired, often looking muddled or distorted. This is a shame given Mikel Janin’s masterful and crisp work in the other issues. Normally, one or two distorted faces are fine, but there’s enough here to be of concern. His inks, however, are well done, as they make all the details (for good or bad) stand out. Managual continues doing wonderful work with colors, this time working with a more subdued color palate due to the darker story material.
Grayson continues to be a strong new series, but this one shot doesn’t exactly match its two predecessors. The story is there, even with its interesting narrative structure, but the art isn’t matching the level of quality found in the other issues of this title. There is also a risk that this one shot happening so soon in the title’s run might derail the momentum they had. However, it is still an excellent issue and one you should check out, if just for the novelty of the narrative structure.
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