Grayson #4 was brought to us by Tim Seeley, Tom King and Mikel Janin, the number 4 and the letters F, U & N !
Fun. That’s what immediately springs to mind when I think about Dick Grayson. Whether it is his throwing puns in battle whilst wearing a brightly coloured costume as the original Boy Wonder, his ability to inspire with equal parts grit and wit as the leader of the Teen Titans or performing amazing gymnastics on a moving train whilst dispensing wisdom to Tim Drake, Dick has always been the character that I would most want to be in the DC Universe. Sadly, this element of Dick’s character had fallen a little by the wayside in the New 52 iteration of Nightwing, and seemed to be lost forever after the harrowing events of the Trinity War.
Then Grayson #4 was released, and all the fun came rushing back into the book like a lemonade waterfall ! (I know, I am not sure what that means either !). In Grayson #4 Dick discovers he is a sex symbol for the students of the St Hadrian’s Finishing School for Girls and decides to play a game of follow the leader with them. This issue is full of panels like this one featuring a smiling Grayson flipping, rolling and jumping around roofs and treetops, as he leads the merry chase.
While the other issues of the series have established Dick as a credible super spy as he infiltrates the mysterious SPYRAL and takes on suitably espionage genre missions, this one focuses on just what makes Dick Grayson tick and proves that regardless of the situation Dick finds himself in, there is one constant: his sense of fun.
This was probably my favourite single issue of the year ! My favourite artists had new stories featuring characters I love ! Another favourite artist had a brand new story full of the psychedelic stylings for which he is known and loved ! Other writers I like had cool stories ! And to top it all off, an artist I had not heard of previously gave me a story which was fun, funny and had innovative layouts ! What more could a comic book evangelist asked for ???
Here are the stories contained in the best single issue of any comic this year:
Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot by Geoff Darrow ! I bought the oversized two issue series way back in the day, and have loved these characters ever since. Once again Geoff Darrow brings us insanely detailed backgrounds, a dash of 1950s sci-fi sensibilities and a soupçon of humour. A most welcome return from these two characters and their co-creator !!
Speaking of great characters and creators, Kabuki and David Mack are respectively my favourite character of all time and my favourite artist/writer of all time (a position he holds in a three-way tie with Dave Gibbons and Alan Davis). So of course I was salivating in joy before I even made it to the page featuring the first Kabuki story in about ten years ! My joy only grew as I read the story, and by the end I was already figuring out just where I had stored all my old Kabuki comics so I could read them all again for the 157th time ! This story was pure perfection.
Another story I eagerly awaited was the new offering The Dream Gang from British superstar Brendan McCarthy. I was first exposed to his work in the Revolver serial Rogan Gosh, and have marvelled at his blend of surrealism and colour for years since. The Dream Gang had everything I expected from Brendan and more: ordinary characters interacting with the extraordinary, anthropomorphised ideas, a non-traditional superhero, and plenty of surrealist weirdness. This is a candy coloured extravaganza of ideas which warranted a second, third and fourth read through !
The writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray once again proved their ability to tell a great story in any genre in their story Wrestling With Demons, in which a father must literally fight demons in an arena in order to free his daughter from the evil clutches of an evil clutcher.
The final story was a delightful surprise ! Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley’s Sabertooth Swordsman was not a title I was aware of, and after reading this amazing silent story featuring the titular hero fighting his way through a number of enemies I have been on a hunt for more from this team. Luckily for me, there are plenty !! It was this page which sold me – I love the pseudo-Egyptian “Pacman” ghosts chasing our hero !
This is an incredible comic, and if, as they say, you but only one comic this year, make it this one !!