Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Reads You Review: GRENDEL VS. THE SHADOW #1

DARK HORSE COMICS with DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT – @DarkHorseComics and @dynamitecomics

COLORS: Brennan Wagner
LETTERS: Michael Heisler
COVER:  Matt Wagner with Brennan Wagner
48pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (September 2014)

Acclaimed comic book writer, artist, and creator Matt Wagner has been producing work that is unique and inventive for just over three decades.  His signature creation is Grendel, which Wagner debuted back in 1982 in the black and white comic book, Primer #2, published by COMICO The Comic Company (or simply Comico).  The most popular iteration of the character is the novelist, assassin, and crime lord, Hunter Rose, the original Grendel.

Recently, Wagner has been writing The Shadow: Year One (Dynamite Entertainment), a miniseries that depicts the beginnings of The Shadow and his war on crime in New York City.  Now, Wagner brings Grendel-Hunter Rose and The Shadow together in Grendel vs. The Shadow, a three-issue miniseries from Dark Horse Comics.

Early in Grendel vs. The Shadow #1, Hunter Rose obtains a mystic artifact, an urn of Chinese origins.  Inside, he finds a scroll, upon which is written the “Eternity Codex.”  Reading the codex somehow causes Rose to be transported to 1930s New York City, and he almost immediately decides that this is a new world to conquer.

Meanwhile, in a crime war brews with news of the impending demise of Don Carlo Luppino.  The “Five Families,” which rule NYC crime are trying to decide who will take over Luppino's operations, and crime boss Lorenzo Valenti sees this as an opportunity to become more powerful.  Meanwhile, The Shadow is trying his best to stop a crime war from happening after Luppino dies.  Into this power keg steps Grendel, a grim reaper slashing his way through mob foot soldiers and lieutenants.  He is sending a message, and The Shadows knows he must stop this mysterious new killer before his actions start a gang war more vicious than any imagined.

I have been a fan of The Shadow for longer than I can remember, probably as long as I've been in love with the Hunter Rose Grendel (and I loved me some Hunter Rose).  Matt Wagner does not disappoint.  I really like this comic book.  Strangely, it seems more like a Shadow comic book than a Grendel comic book or even a Shadow-Grendel comic book.  It is as if Grendel is a guest star in The Shadow's world of pulp-noir violence.

I had planned on reading the first issue and likely not reading the other two issues.  Now, the Shadow knows I plan on reading this entire three-issue, prestige-format series.  Besides my love of the title characters,  Grendel vs. The Shadow is simply a fun comic book to read.  As a kid, I probably would have “creamed my pants” to see this on the table of the little comic book store where I once shopped.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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