Review by Ian Keogh
Assumed to be dead by everyone other than Batman, Dick Grayson is in fact deep undercover within the almost parodic agency Spyral, housed within the grounds of an English girls’ finishing school. As established in Agents of Spyral, it has a mission to discover the identities of the world’s masked superheroes.
As previously, co-plotters Tom King and Tim Seeley alternate at scripting their stories, and as previously in Seeley’s chapters the dialogue is sometimes forced as he tries too hard to be witty and shoehorn in cultural references. And also as previously there’s little in the way of concessions for anyone not aware of the Midnighter’s purpose in DC’s New 52 universe, and that impacts severely when Dick finds himself abducted. There’s a very deep game going on and not everything has to be explained at once, but some basic background for readers would be nice.
None of that matters for a stunning opening chapter which is nothing other than the main cast members attempting to survive for several days in the desert. Never mind that the accepted safety advice is to sleep during the day and travel at night when it’s cooler, as that would deprive of us of all the tension and the glorious spreads supplies by Mikel Janín, with Jeromy Cox’s colour work adding the gloss. It must be the easiest pay he’s ever earned, seeing as he just has too keep hitting the button for orange, but it looks fantastic. Not that it matters, but for those who pick up on it there’s a clever reference to an earlier notable story featuring Dick Grayson. You’ll find it in The Black Casebook.
Janín again impresses with his page layouts and imagination. It may well have been the writers who conceived a zombie killer whale on mechanical legs, but it’s Janín who brings it to spectacular life. As with the previous book the fallback artist is Stephen Mooney. He still doesn’t quite match Janín’s imagination and layouts, but there’s none of the awkwardness of his previous contribution to the series. He’s come on significantly and if he continues to progress at this rate he’s really going to be an artist to watch.
The story he illustrates is set in Ireland and it’s very clever. You’ll be wondering whether it’s just too obvious, and whether that’s really meta-commentary, but you’ll be sucked in and admire what’s been done by the end. And by the end of the collection much has changed.
It’s worth noting the book concludes by presenting the variant covers to the original issues reprinted here, and Bill Sienkiewicz’s homage to the Enter the Dragon poster is a stunner. The series continues with Nemesis.