Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grendel - Behold the Devil #3

Our tale of the Devil continues as he faces off against his life long enemy - Argent the wolf.  Grendel gets that funny feeling again, like he's being watched - when out of the shadows leaps the Wolf.  They fight on the roof tops, the Devil toying with Argent...all the while quoting Shelly, Blake and Dante.

Awesome fight scene - best of the series so far.

Our reporter friend Lucas witnesses the entire fight and the aftermath (Argent rips apart Grendel's men handling the heroine shipment) and, In fear heads to Liz's apartment where they discus who is the worse monster - the Devil or the Wolf.

We are then treated to a walk in the park with Hunter and Stacy - a rare contemplative moment.  But this time out leads the Devil to a decisive confrontation between himself and the Koreans (who were unable to protect his cargo).

The issue ends with Lucas finally connecting the dots and realizing Hunter Rose and Grendel are one in the same.

The book took me 7 minutes to read - I kid you not.  They move at almost breakneck speed...and I think I love the ride.  Matt's art is phenomenal - some of the most interesting panel layouts I've seen in while.  But his trademarks are still there too.

I have to keep saying this - if you've never read Grendel, this series is the perfect place to start.

Credits - Written by Matt Wagner
               Art by Matt Wagner

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grendel - Behold the Devil #2

Tonight's review is the next issue of Matt Wagner's latest black, white and red Hunter Rose mini-series Grendel - Behold the Devil.  It also happens to be my son's second birthday, so I will indulge in a breif post script about my life outside of the long box.

This issue opens with our titular character poised on a sky-light eaves dropping on two mob bosses; they are discussing the demise of their colleague from the previous issue.  All of a sudden, Grendel's hand squeaks on the glass and the men are tipped off to his presence.  Needless to say, Grendel makes short work of them in his signature surgical manner.  On the other side of things, Lucas (our reporter friend) and Liz (our cop friend) talk about how neither one of them has any idea who Grendel could be.

Hunter and Larry - Grendel's willing right hand man - talk about the power vacuum problem that has recently come about at Grendel's blade.  They agree to let it fill itself and Grendel calls a meeting on the leaders of his underworld.  We learn that later than night a large shipment of heroine is being brought into New York under the protection of the Koreans.  Many wonder whether they can be trusted, so Grendel says he'll see to it personally.  Lucas also finds out about the shipment and makes his way to the docks too.

At the close of the issue, we see Grendel sitting on a rooftop, feeling like he's being watched.  Little does he know, there is a wolf lurking over his shoulder.

This issue lacks the action of the previous one, but it is building with Argent (the wolf) coming to the table.  When Grendel or Argent are around the body count is high, but with both of them on the scene it goes off the charts.  The art is great - the action isn't present like the last issue, but Wagner handles the dramatic scenes well too.  He's a wonderful story teller and the tension that's building is sure to break in the next issue.

On a side note - today was a great day.  It was my son Finn's second birthday.  I got home from work at 4:30 and asked Finn what he wanted for dinner.  He practically screamed "Pizza", so I drove to Domino's to fetch dinner.  After the feast (he was covered in sauce) we sat on the floor and played with his new wooden train set.  All of a sudden he stood up, ran to the DVD rack and pointed to the Spectacular Spider-man DVD.  We sat and watched the Doctor Octopus episode and he asked for Batman instead.  We watched the Joker Fish episode and the Harley and Ivy one.  Then it was off to bed.  I am so proud of that young man - he's so cool.

So, until tomorrow - happy reading!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grendel - Behold the Devil #1

Last issue saw Grendel chase down a thug, who he proceeded to kill - but not before allowing the man a glance at his face under the mask.  He then complained about a feeling of being watched.

The devil is back to this old tricks in this issue, which opens with 4 pages of blood splatter and captions detailing a battle between Grendel and 21 armed men.  The aftermath fills a double page spread and is a gory joy to behold (I like the guy stuffed in the umbrella stand).

We are then introduced to Lucas Ottoman (reporting tracking Grendel) and Elizabeth Sparks (a police officer also tracking Grendel); they meet at the scene of the carnage and exchange witty banter - next scene we see them post coitus talking about the murder scene.

Grendel is then seen on a roof top contemplating the vacuum left in his criminal underworld by the murders, when that felling of being watched comes back and the issue ends.

Not bad for a first issue - it's good to see Matt Wagner draw Grendel again.  It's kind of a standard first issue in that it introduces new character, gives background on established charters, and sets up a mystery to be solved.  The cover blew me away the first time I saw it and the murder scene is probably one of my favorite pieces of comic art.  All that blood and not a drop on him. 

Awesome issue - go buy it.

More blood tomorrow as the Devil's exploits continue.  Until then - happy reading.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grendel - Behold the Devil #0

In 2007, I turned 25...and so did Matt Wagner's character, Grendel.  So to celebrate, Matt decided to return once more to the original Grendel - Hunter Rose.  Why I keep saying the "original Grendel" will be explored in later posts, but for now, lets talk about Hunter Rose.

Like Grendel: Black, White and Red and Grendel: Red, White and Black this series is published in black white and red.  Unlike the previous anthology format of those two title, Behold the Devil is one 9 issue story and is drawn by one person - Matt Wagner.

This issue is a teaser.  Grendel chases a man for unknown reasons to a "safe house", which the man makes his final resting place.  Before administering the killing blow, Grendel lets the man see who lives under the mask.  Cut to Christine Spar sitting at her desk talking about some missing pages in Grendel's diary.  Just as a refresher, Christine is Hunter's granddaughter (for more on this check out my review of Devil by the Deed).

This issue is well drawn and well told.  After Devil's Vagary yesterday, this book is fresh reminder of why I enjoy Matt Wagner's writing.  And his art is great - I like the way his style has developed since Devil By the Deed.  He's realized he's better at showing the aftermath of violence rather than the violence itself.  I've always felt his action scenes feel flat.  That statement aside, this is an all around good read and a great jumping on point for new readers who may never have read this character.

Until tomorrow - Happy reading

Credits - Written by: Matt Wagner
               Art by: Matt Wagner

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grendel - Devil's Vagary #0

Well, after the brief Batman intermission, I think it's time to get back the character that I started this blog with - Grendel.  More accurately, the original Grendel, Hunter Rose. 

My love affair with this character began when I was a freshman in high school.   At the time, I had an unhealthy addiction to everything X and Magic: The Gathering.  I was at my local comic shop (R.I.P. Oscar's Comics) and on a whim picked up a copy of the Grendel Primer.  From that moment on I knew I was destined to collect every issue of this series.  This is the last one I tracked down. 

It's a strange little one shot issue that tells the story of a man who tries to play the Devil for a fool and ends up paying the price.  It involves a botched arms trade and a kidnapped woman.

This is probably the weakest Grendel story I've read.  It's only 16 pages - but the art is decent.  Lots of play between light and shadow.  But the story is a little weak. 

Be back here tomorrow for the beginning of the most recent tale of the original devil.  Until then, Happy reading!

Credits - Matt Wagner: Writer
               Dean Motter: Art

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Batman #454

Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Kieron Dwyer and Dennis Janke

So, we last saw Batman holding a choking child and a silver dagger.  No other option but to perform a tracheotomy.  In true Batman style, the baby lives and Batman tracks the Riddler to a fun house, where our hero fights a guy with a flame thrower in front of the last baby and a goat.  Batman saves the last baby, and takes off after the Riddler.  He ends up in a warehouse, that has a basement with a skeleton in it - the same basement where a demon was summoned.

Turns out, the demon was using the Riddler to prep Batman as a new sacrifice.  Cool plot twist.  Riddler locks Bats in the basement and lights the place on fire.  After a long dialog between Batman and the skeleton of the girl, Alfred shows up and saves the day.  Batman buries the girl in the Wayne plot and wonders how much of his destiny the Demon controlled.

This is a perfect ending - this demon created its own savior.  The demon runs through Gotham - is in every street, brick and stop light - and has been shaping the city since the 1700's.

I can't sum up how good this story is - go out and read it.  It hasn't been collected in a trade, but the single issues shouldn't run you more than $3 an issue.

Well, happy Thanksgiving and happy reading. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Batman #453

Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Kieron Dwyer and Dennis Jenke

So we last left Batman in a cemetery full zombies and the Riddler still had three babies held hostage. Bats fights the zombies and realizes all but one are robots. Before Batman can interogate the thug, the Riddler sets off a tiny bomb embedded in his henchman's neck. No more henchman.

The Riddler doesn't normally act like this (his death toll is usually low) and Batman knows it too. He knows the Riddler is just playing with him. In the cemetary, our hero finds the second baby alive and a riddle...

...Back in 1764, a botched sacrifice occurs in what would be modern day Gotham....

... Our hero figures out the riddle, which leads him under the streets of Gotham where the Riddler has endangered another life. He's stuck a pin-pong ball down one of the babies' throats and it's up to Batman to perform emergency surgery to save a life. And the issue ends.

Again, this story never misses a step. The timing is right on, the art is simple and refreshing, and the story is full of twists. I'd recommend these issues to anyone.

Come back tomorrow and find how steady Batman's hand is and why the Riddler is acting so weird . Until then, happy reading.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Batman # 452

Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Kieron Dwyer and Dennis Janke

So I need something a bit more entertaining to cleanse my palette after that last issue of Mutant X. So, after about 15 minutes of digging, I came across the Dark City Dark Knight 3 parter by Peter Milligan.

This first issue is insane. I can't explain the plot in a short manner. All I can say is the Riddler shots a security guard in cold blood, hangs a man, kidnaps babies (one of which Batman almost runs over), covers Batman in gallons of blood and the issue ends with Batman in a graveyard with zombies. All that and there's a side story about a demon and a human sacrifice!

Wow, talk about a tense issue. Batman fails to save 3 out of 4 victims. Not a good day for the Caped Crusader.

The art keeps up with the manic story - not a single panel is wasted. The scene where the security guard is killed is particular good. For a book from 1990, the art still holds up. It's refreshing to see comic book art in a comic book. No painted panels, no washes, no effects. Just paper and ink. Great issue - a must read if you like the Dark Knight.

Mutant X #12

Written by: Howard Mackie
Art by: Cary Nord and Andrew Pepoy

Well, its finally here - the showdown between the Goblin Queen and Havok. I went into this expecting good things...but this is the Mutant X universe where nothing in what you expected.

Basically this issue consists of gathering of the forces of good to fight the Goblin Queen. Lots of self doubt on Havok's part, as usual. He makes it to New York to face the Goblin Queen and... he remembers dying. Turns out we're transported into his mind (or maybe the astral plain) where Scotty is hanging out. There is a lot of dialogue and the Goblin Queen is defeated in a tiny panel. Havok wonders how and the rest of the world starts to pick up the pieces of the Goblin Queen's mess.

What a piece of crap ending. No grand 12 page fight scene, no death of heroes and villains alike, just a big stinking fart of a deus ex machina. What a waste of time and paper. Trees died to print this drivel.

Well, I think we'll shelve this series for a bit (there are 20 more issues plus 2 annuals) - be back here tomorrow to find out what the long box holds.

Read happy!