I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 8 comics last week: Batman Eternal #48, Grayson #8, Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #3, Detective Comics #40, Avengers World #18, Avengers#42, All New Hawkeye #1 and Princess Leia #1.
The best comic I read last week was Grayson #8.
I want my Nightwing back. I want my Dick Grayson back. I want my hero back.
I’ve not been in love with the new direction that DC Comics has taken with the character of Dick Grayson. After almost killing him off in the Forever Evil storyline and, in the course of that same story, revealing his identity as Dick Grayson to the whole world, DC has placed this character – one of their most venerable – on deep background, burying him as a mole in Spyral, an ultra-secret espionage organization collecting information on the heroes of the DC universe. He’s there at Batman’s urging, attempting to understand the nature of Spyral and, potentially, taking it down.
The first half-dozen issues of this series have been a very slow burn broken up by some interesting vignettes fleshing out the parameters of Spyral and Grayson’s growing awareness of it. They’ve also introduced a few interesting characters with whom Dick has interacted. It’s all been competently if not utterly compellingly done.
But Grayson #8 felt different to me. For the first time in the series, I had a sense of Grayson as a hero again, not an agent of Spyral or an agent of Mr. Malone (Batman), but a hero in his own right. That is a welcome change in direction. There is momentum here that I’ve not sensed from this title before this issue. Forward motion.
The writing by Tim Seeley and Tom King has always been good here as has the art by Mikel Janin. It’s been the direction of the story that has bothered me or, rather, what I perceived as the lack thereof. But, after reading Grayson #8, I find myself looking forward more to its next issue than to the next issue of anything else I read this month. Given that Nightwing is my favorite comic book character, I know the bar for my enjoyment of any title featuring him is pretty low, but the fact that I am anticipating the next installment of this book combined with my love of the character is good enough to win my Best Sequential Art of the Week award!