Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grayson #14 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Seeley pretty much puts all the cards on the table here, giving us the history of Otto Netz, a.k.a. Doctor Dedalus, a.k.a. Agent Zero.

In a flashback, Netz narrates the story of his life to his younger daughters, Katarina (Luka) and Elisabeth (the current Dr. Netz).  He worked for the Nazis to create the perfect bio-engineered warriors.  After the war, "a union of frightened men" asked him to help destroy these "supermen," since they were overflowing from labs around the world.  He created Spyral to do so, and this modus operandi fits with the current organization's goal of discovering superheroes' secret identities to neutralize them.  (That said, we don't know if this "union" is still supporting Spyral's work or if Spyral is now working on its own.)

However, Otto came to grow bored with his success.  His experience supporting the Nazis made him realize that all wars come to an end, so he created Leviathan to keep the war going.  It was created to be the Grendel of our age, "anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, anti-god, anti-man."  It's an interesting description, because it certainly implies that Spyral -- at least to Netz's mind -- is a heroic organization, or a sort.  We haven't necessarily seen anything to disprove that, since you could certainly make an argument that superheroes cause more damage than they prevent.  At any rate, Spyral's Agent Zero became Leviathan's Doctor Dedalus.  Not surprisingly, Netz refers to the ouroborus as typifying the relationship between Spyral and Leviathan.  However, he eventually developed Alzheimer's disease and was thus forced to put into action a plan to secure his legacy.  He transferred his mind to a machine, becoming Spyder.  One of his daughters would eventually claim it, becoming Agent Zero, while the other one would become Leviathan.

Although this information is incredibly expository, Seeley makes it flow more or less organically.  He uses the conversation between Netz and his "daughters" to unspool the information, though, in reality, Dick is getting this information after using his Hypnos to get Ladytron to hack into Luka's system.  In fact, the main theme of this issue is less about Netz and more about Dick's resourcefulness.  When Tiger originally wanted Ladytron to create an emp blast to take out the cyber-spiders attacking the trio, Dick knocked him unconscious and hypnotized her instead, because he needed to make sure that the emp didn't erase the information in Luka's systems.  Once he gets that information, though, he also knew that Spyder would order Helena to use the nanobots in his system to kill him.  As such, he had Ladytron deploy the emp then to destroy them.  He's a clever guy, our Dick.

That said, I can't say that I really enjoyed Ladytron in this issue, since her banter felt terribly forced.  (Her comment about getting her C.E.T.R.A. - Cyborgs for the Ethical Treatment of Robot Animals - card revoked for killing the cyber-spiders was particularly awful.)  But, she serves the purpose that Seeley needs her to serve, and it gets me the answers that I wanted, so I guess I can live with her.

It's unclear where we go from here.  I'm still not sure if Luka or Dr. Netz is Leviathan, since they're still both theoretically working for Spyral.  It feels like Luka was the one to win Netz's brain, but, if so, doesn't she know that her sister is Leviathan?  Moreover, Dick tries to recruit Tiger into helping him take down Spyral, but I'm not sure what Dick learned in hacking Luka's systems that would convince him to do so.  Moreover, it's not like Tiger shares Dick's goal of securing superheroes' secret identities.  Was the information that he found that damning that he expects Tiger (and presumably Helena) to help him?  Is Spyral really Leviathan, under Luka or Dr. Netz's manipulations?  Spies, man.  They're an unclear lot.

*** (three of five stars)

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