Grayson Annual #1. Writer- Tom King, Plot by Tim Seeley and Tom King, Artist- Stephen Mooney, Colorist- Jeromy Cox.
If you can hear an Irish accent in your head, I suggest you utilize it when reading this story. If not, it’s time to conjure one up. Stephen Mooney’s art will help with this. I can’t explain it, but it does. It didn’t even register at first, but after taking in the whole issue I figured out why the art had an Irish accent- Stephen Mooney. Billed as the “Secret Origin of Helena Bertinelli” is a bit of misdirection. We get that in the story, but oh, what a story. Giants and other giants and spies…yes, spies. And a red-haired Irish lass. I suppose the clever part is that it fits in with the overarching story in Grayson, but plays out quite well as a one off.
The story is told from the point of view of an Irish fellow who’s made bombs for the IRA and taken his work overseas to Gotham and plied his trade there as well, until an accident put the brakes on his explosive career (ouch). So, the story opens with Helena bound, gagged and rigged with a bomb in the trunk of a car, compliments of Paddy our Irish antagonist. And she stays that way for most of the issue. Along the way we find out (or do we) that Helena is from a mob family and she’s run and disappeared. There are rumors. So, Paddy is trying to sell off Helena to a rival mobster- St. Francis. Bad blood with the Bertinelli’s. Francis’s agent- the red-haired Irish lass sets up a meet to make the exchange. She’s pretty bright though and calls her contact in Gotham to check out Paddy’s story. Her contact, Malone (as in Matches Malone) clears Paddy. So who’s this guy Paddy? The redhead was right to be suspicious.
The ending is too fun to completely spoil, needless to say, Grayson does appear in his own annual. Helena has her moment as well.
While extremely sublime, Stephen Mooney really shines in this issue. He is the perfect artist for this annual. It’s hard to pinpoint other than he captures the spirit of Ireland visually and aurally in his art. Mooney also manages to capture a lot in facial expressions. There’s an eerie resemblance to Alex Raymond, though Mooney is not the master draftsman that Raymond was. King’s script captures the right sound as well. For a book there are a lot of aural treats for the listener (reader). The issue also captures the notion of Irish storyteller. It weaves in and out and misdirected where necessary. The creative team really manage to go above and beyond. In the old days, annuals were something special. While this issue does not mimic annuals of old it really captures the special aspect.
Go away! I’m giving this a perfect score. This is a great book. You don’t need to know anything about it to enjoy it. Anyone can read and enjoy this book.
I’ve wanted to dislike this title and concept for a while. But almost every issue tells me I’m wrong. One of the best one-off issues of the year. For a fun read and great comic, go buy this now. Now, now, now.