Friday, June 20, 2008

Grendel: Behold the Devil #8

Maybe my hopes for this series were just a little too high. I need to re-read the entire series, which for the most part is damn good, but as single issues go this one as well as the previous issue are disappointments. It was originally intended to be published in a manga style single volume paperback format and this issue is evidence of that. It's the conclusion but upon reading the first page I realized I should really really put it down and start from issue #0. I got impatient. It might be premature, but here we go anyway.

Last issue, the cynic in me was pretty pissed. An entire issue dedicated to basically reminding the reader that there is a whole history of the Grendel concept that extends well beyond the character of Hunter Rose. And wouldn't ya know it, Dark Horse is repackaging the old Comico series into a new series of collections. Profit!

This issue takes care of the last dangling thread involving Lucas Ottoman, the reporter who realizes Hunter Rose is Grendel. Suffice it to say, his story is a foregone conclusion. It was expected from the first issue, and Lucas has been a great character to follow around. I've enjoyed the "witness interview" scenes that give the series that noir feel. Hunter Rose's story has usually been told from third person accounts and these vignettes and the excerpts from Devil by the Deed have done a fantastic job in driving the narrative.

Still, the ending is wrapped up too quickly. Even if the purpose of the series was simply to shill the collections, Wagner had enough time to give Hunter Rose an opportunity to define himself instead of being defined by others. Or if not that, at least a prouder death for Lucas Ottoman. Or something. I don't know, I'm not a writer but I can say that entire scene...lacked. The violence was cool, don't get me wrong, but the confrontation between Grendel and Lucas spans three pages and a sparse 124 words. It might just be me. My expectations were probably too high. The story takes place a few months before Grendel's death, so there's only so much that can be done.

Now visually, the book is outstanding. Grendel amidst the flames, Elizabeth Sparks descent into madness on seeing Ottoman's charred, flaming corpse...the last few pages. Oh, baby! The art alone makes this book, this series, worth it. Wagner outclasses just about every capes and tights, big tits, big pecs artist in the business. An incredible visual story-teller, I could just sit here looking at the pictures and not get bored. And a versatile artist as well. This series really looks nothing like Mage. So many artists have a set style, it's always refreshing to see someone who can adapt his visuals to the story he's telling.

At the very least, let me recommend this series for those needing an introduction to the Grendel universe. It serves that purpose quite well. Follow this up with Devil by the Deed. If you enjoyed this series, Devil by the Deed will knock you on your ass.


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