Former Robin Turns Secret Agent in DC Comics’ ‘Grayson’

By April 15, 2014

When he first appeared in Detective Comics #38 in 1940, it was clear that Batman’s sidekick Robin had changed the game for the young superhero genre. By introducing the original kid sidekick, a floodgate of imitators both from within the same company and at rival comics publishers began to appear, like Captain America’s Bucky, the original Human Torch’s Toro, Green Arrow’s Speedy, and the Flash’s Kid Flash. Robin, whose real name was Dick Grayson, stands as an important pillar in the rich, 75 year history of the Batman character, evolving the Dark Knight into a better position of understanding and vicarious adventure through his many young readers, and eventually becoming an extremely popular hero in his own right.

Leading into the new Grayson title will be Nightwing #30, the finale of the series, releasing on May 30th.

Leading into the new Grayson title will be Nightwing #30, the finale of the series, releasing on May 30th.

In the modern comics, Dick Grayson is a very important part of the DC Comics Universe, having established relationships with many characters at different levels of prominence: from the obvious connection to the Batman family, on up through Superman, along with the Teen Titans and the people he goes out of his way to save. For most of the past thirty years, he’s carved his own heroic niche as Nightwing, stepping out of Batman’s shadow and becoming a respected superheroic operative. He’s led different iterations of DC teams like the Titans and the Outsiders, and on two separate occasions has even served as Batman in Bruce Wayne’s stead, most recently when it was thought his mentor was killed.

Now, in the New 52, Dick has been back as Nightwing, but in the current Forever Evil crossover event, his identity has been outed and he looks like he may have also been killed. Thankfully, DC seems to know better than to kill one of their most popular and enduring characters, and have revealed the next chapter in the former Boy Wonder’s story. He’s alive, but not many people will know it.

Announced by USA Today, with Forever Evil winding down and the Nightwing ongoing series ending with May’s issue #30, this summer a new series will be hitting the stands in comic shops simply called Grayson. Written by comic book writer Tim Seeley (Revival) and former CIA counterterrorism operations officer (and author of novel A Once Crowded Sky) Tom King, Grayson picks up the pieces of the young hero’s life in the wake of his identity being outed by the Crime Syndicate in Forever Evil. Batman himself seems to be the only DCU character aware that his adopted son is alive, and he convinces Dick that it would be a good idea to keep it that way. In the interview with USA Today, co-writer King explains, “He’s doing something that’s going to cause pain to his friends and family, but he believes in the cause. That tension between having to do something good but having the cost of it being pain to his family, it drives him a little crazy.”

Instead of joining a specific government’s covert operations agency or enlisting with a questionable (but appropriate) DC character like Amanda Waller, Grayson instead joins an organization called “Spyral,” a covert ops force that first appeared last year in the pages of writer Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated series. According to King, Spyral is an organization that’s more representative of the current climate in worldwide counterterrorism efforts.

The concept for the series seems similar to 2012's Marvel book WInter Soldier, though Dick Grayson and Bucky Banes are very different characters.

The concept for the series seems similar to 2012’s Marvel book Winter Soldier, though Dick Grayson and Bucky Barnes are very different characters.

“He has to save the world, but he’s dealing with an organization that may go beyond his comfort zone,” he said. Additionally, Seeley explains that placing a character as relatable and morally strong as Dick Grayson in the center of a world that may challenge his notions is a refreshing approach for the young hero, who’s used to being able to dish out justice on his own terms, and with his own methods that were taught to him by the Dark Knight. “[Spyral] purports to be on the side of the angels,” he says, “but clearly, there’s some weird stuff going on. Their penchant for manipulation instantly makes them nefarious.”

Conceptually, the thrust of this series is somewhat similar to writer Ed Brubaker’s solo Winter Soldier series that ran for a year in 2012, as that series also featured a major hero’s former sidekick (Captain America’s) who had faked his own death in the wake of a massive crossover event (Fear Itself), to then re-emerge in his own series to serve as a covert ops agent, secretly alive and well. That’s likely where the similarities begin and end, though; unlike Bucky Barnes, Dick Grayson has never carried a gun as he does on the cover of Grayson #1, much less served the interests of any other entity besides himself or Batman. As a fan of the character, I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how this is explored, since it should prove to be a unique chapter in the life of the first Robin.

Grayson #1 premieres both in print and digitally on July 2nd. The book’s creative team will also be handling Nightwing #30, that series’ final issue, which will be released on May 30th. Future editions of the GeekNation Pull List will review both of these issues upon release. It looks like an exciting time for Dick Grayson fans, so let’s all hope that it plays out for the best!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation,, The Huffington Post, and He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.