Review – Grendel Vs The Shadow #1 (Of 3) (Dark Horse)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner
Release Date: 3rd September 2014
Everyone loves an anti-hero, right? Especially one with a wry sense of humour and killer fighting moves? Well, Grendel, Matt Wagner’s sociopathic, inexplicably affluent treasure hunter sure should fit the bill.
Grendel always feels like a bit of a vanity project to me, though. He’s a character with no redeeming features, nothing to empathise with and no subtlety to speak of. The art is always a treat but to the point of self-indulgence, often. The pallet is noir, as you would expect and anticipate, with red splashed around with an almost Sin-City glee (though not quite as stylised or, to be honest, as stylish).
And it’s a servant of 2 masters, giving us The Shadow narrative also. The Shadow can be a compelling character, but here he’s bombastic, at times brutal, unsubtle and again, difficult to empathise with. So with no clear character to be drawn to, it makes the narrative difficult to engage with.
The narrative itself deals with a mob war, with Grendel trying to get his (spiky) oar in. Whilst Wagner obviously delights in drawing the curvaceous femme fatale, for all her intelligence she seems incapable of recognising that the man in the same suit with the same flower in his lapel that she’s spent the evening with, just because he happens to be wearing a goofy mask.
It’s a frustrating read, 50 pages actually dragging in. At the end of the issue, when they finally meet and Grendel declares that finally, things have got interesting, I’m hard pressed to agree.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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