‘Grayson’ Cracks The Code On How To Make A ‘Future’s End’ Tie-In Great: The Return Of KGBeast
I'll be honest, folks: I have very little interest in Future's End as a line-wide crossover. DC Comics' tactic of derailing their books into weird tangents every September, a tradition that goes back to the relaunch of the "New 52" universe, never quite works as well as I want it to, and when you throw in the fact that we're peering into the dim and distant future of a world that we've only actually had for three years, and, well, no thanks, I'm good. What really had me worried, though, was Grayson.
I've really been enjoying what Tom King, Tim Seeley and Stephen Mooney have been doing with this book over the first few issues, but as I think we all know, there's no faster way to derail a brand new comic's momentum than to drop it into a crossover after two months. I almost didn't bother to read it, but I'm glad I did. It turns out that King, Seeley and Mooney have taken their Future's End tie-in as an opportunity to produce one of the most enjoyable single issues I've read in a long while.
Admittedly, this is a comic that could not possibly have been more tailored to my very, very specific tastes without literally involving Batman showing up and choosing Bulbasaur to be the new Robin. I already love all of these characters, and there are few things in comics I enjoy more than issues that are built around interesting story structures and wordplay, whether it's riddles, codes, acrostics or whatever. I love that stuff, and if that wasn't enough to direct it straight to my tastes, this is a comic that is all about Dick Grayson fighting the KGBeast.
I mean, they refer to him as a "joke," which is very disrespectful and I expect an apology as the Internet's Most Beloved KGBeastologist, but still, it's a start.
The structure of the story is probably what works best, though. While it starts in the nebulous "Five Years From Now" of Future's End, each page takes a step back, telling the story in reverse order. It's a pretty simple trick, but the book pulls it off really well, starting with a shocking event -- Helena Bertinelli executing Dick Grayson for treason against Russia -- and then stepping back all the way to the night Dick's parents were killed. Each jump in time reveals something, setting up multiple pieces of information, from code phrases to inside jokes between the characters to a fantastically unabashed deus ex machina in the form of a jar Dick keeps under his bed.
And along the way, there are some really great character moments, too.
According to the credits, this issue was scripted by Actual Spy Tom King, and plotted, of course, by both writers. When the series was announced, I, probably unfairly, assumed that it was King's relative inexperience as a writer that got him paired up with Seeley, but reading this issue, you wouldn't know that he's a newcomer to the world of comics. There's a skill at work here in the scripting that's pretty impossible to ignore, and along with Mooney, he managed to write a story that works if you read it forwards and then immediately turn around and read it backwards -- which I actually did.
If nothing else, I had to read that one panel where Batgirl straight up says that Dick wants to date Batman again. Get ready to see that one a lot in the coming years, folks.