Whether you’ve never picked up a Grendel comic, or you’ve stashed away countless issues of Matt Wagner’s creation, this series is for you. Wagner returns to his creation for the first time in ten years to give us a never-told tale of the first Grendel, Hunter Rose. Take a peek inside the Full Diagnosis as we review the first two issues of the eight-issue mini-series Grendel: Behold the Devil.
Grendel: Behold the Devil #1 & 2
What’s interesting about this first issue, aside from the fact it’s the first Grendel issue Matt Wagner has penned himself in a decade, are the alternative perspectives and looks back mixed in with the linear never-before-told tale of Hunter Rose.
We begin with an excerpt from “Devil by the Deed” which in one page introduces both the character of Hunter Rose, the accomplished novelist, and his alter-ego Grendel, a costumed assassin and crime boss. These carefully chosen words contrast sharply with the next six bloody pages which follow showing us the outcome of Grendel’s latest killing spree. From here we move through the perspectives of Grendel/Hunter Rose, Detective Lucas Ottoman and Detective Elizabeth Sparks as the story continues on many separate points.
This first issue easily sets up the world and is a good primer for those unfamiliar with the characters. And although filled with blood there’s no killing here, as the reader arrives seconds too late and is only allowed to glimpse the aftermath of Hunter Rose’s work.
By the end of the issue we also see Rose’s growing paranoia and learn that something yet unseen is waiting for Grendel in the shadows, and is hunting the hunter.
The second issue gives us more blood, more sex, and, in the issue’s final frame, the first shot of who is hunting Hunter Rose, the creature who is destined to end Grendel’s life – Argent the Wolf.
Wagner’s b&w art (with splashes of red) is classic and brilliant. There’s a grace to the character that Wagner brings to the surface (and seriously, how totally freakin’ awesome is it to see a comic character that doesn’t look his steroid enlarged pecks are about to burst through his spandex top?). It’s great to see him writing and drawing this character again.
Once again the story includes perspectives and insights from other sources including interviews, excerpts from “Devil by the Deed” and more. We also see the effect of the uneasiness and feeling of being watched slowly begin to crack the emotionless exterior of Grendel. And by the time Argent shows up we’re more than ready to plunk down another $3.50 for the next issue.
After two issues I’m hooked. New and old fans of Grendel should pick up this series and enjoy a great storyteller slowly unfold a new exciting tale featuring his prized creation.