Writer: Matt Wagner
Artists: Kelley Jones, Mike Hawthorne, Andi Watson, Dan Brereton, Phil Hester & Ande Parks
Publisher: Dark Horse
There's something undeniably appealing about the original Grendel incarnation, Hunter Rose. Although the general storyline has long since moved on from his (relatively) brief stint as Grendel, this era, this character, this style appeals more to me (and it seems, to readers, if feedback on my review of #1 is any guide) than any other of the many appearances and variants since.
Wagner certainly seems attached to the character, hence this second series of four 48-page issues (42 pages of story), each containing a number of shorts which are over all too soon, unfortunately. One minor problem with this particular issue is that, with two exceptions, the stories feel vaguely familiar, as if we've seen it all before. Someone tries to double-cross Grendel and falls foul of him, someone catches him in the act and falls foul of him, etc, etc.
The two highlights for me, though, were extremely high indeed. "Devil's Karma", drawn by Andi Watson, is a set of full-page illustrations accompanied by an apropos Haiku by Wagner. Watson's art is distinctively his, which has an air of the orient about it anyway, so the fusion of words and pictures is perfect. "Roulette Du Diable", features the also-distinctive art of Dan Brereton, but this time the red highlights and shadowing are an integral part of the art (rather than splashed on as happens in other stories) - the whole is an awesome display of talent, very nice work, very impressive.
There's a story told by Isaac Asimov about him writing short stories about certain characters whilst his fans demand more novels, which is far too self-indulgent for me to detail here (drop me an email to hear it) but is very relevant - although these shorts are occasionally hit and miss, always welcome, and nice to have, we (the readers) really want a full-length Hunter Rose series, a novel please, Mr. Wagner. It doesn't help that Rose's beginning and ending has already been told; after all, any future about him can hardly contain a credible threat to his health, as we know when, where and how he dies already. Maybe a re-imagining along the lines of Paul Chadwick's five part retelling of the origins of Concrete, Strange Armor is in order? A twelve-issue series giving us the full low-down on everything to do with Hunter Rose from beginning to end, the definitive word on the definitive version of a fantastic creation.
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