Written by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly
Art by Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Jeromy Cox, Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: March 23, 2016
Under the title of “Fight Harder,” Grayson #18 feels more like a fill-in issue than a direct continuation of the story to date. That is, in no small part, due to the creative team shifting from writers Tom King and Tim Seeley to Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, and artist Mikel Janin to the tag team of Roge Antonio and Geraldo Borges.
The issue opens with a frenzied scene of violence and panic at St. Hadrian’s Finishing School, which is the heart of this issue’s battle. And from there the chaos spirals (sorry, had to be done) out of control. Lanzing and Kelly name-check all of the characters that have spun through the title and set their artists up for a battle royale.
Unfortunately, Dick Grayson becomes severely marginalized in his own title as a result, with the former Boy Wonder checking in on only ten pages, and not even fully commanding readers’ attention in those ten pages. Luckily, Grayson #18 clocks in at twenty-two pages, so there’s a lot of room for all of the characters in this story. The result is a final splash page that should give readers a jaw-dropping or maybe even head-scratching moment, except that revelation is emotionally diffused during the preceding story, due to the chaos within the story and the competing foci.
As for the art, it is consistently inconsistent. Some of it is remarkably refined and detailed, with undertones of Matthew Clark or even Rafael Albuquerque, but not the finishes of either. Occasionally the depth or detail is mired in heavy shadows that threaten to obscure everything. For the most part, though, there are some graceful, fluid lines on the character work, giving Grayson #18 a lot of visual energy, even if the focus jumps around.
Grayson #18 is all over the place, with the Skull Girls and Midnighter, Agent Zero and Helena Bertinelli. I’m not sure where it’s all going and there are points in this issue where I’m not sure what I’ve read, but there is no denying the sense of action Lanzing, Kelly, Antonio, and Borges have delivered. It’s not an awful read, it’s just fails to reach the high levels of expectation that were established by Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin.
The Verdict: 5.0/10