Plot: Hunter Rose, New Yorkís best selling crime novelist, is in reality Grendel, the bloodied hand that controls the crime world. With a score to settle with the Korean mob and a demonic curse on his head, can Grendel kill two birds with one stone?
Commentary: Matt Wagnerís Grendel: Behold the Devil is great combination of crime drama with a compelling story structure. The story mostly takes place in the present, leading up to Grendelís battle with the ďFour WindsĒ mob. However, dispersed throughout are two narrative voices taking account of this great battle while keeping the reader privy to all the gory action.
The first narrator is Christine Spar, who appears in the series through excerpts from her criminal study of Grendel entitled Devil by Deed. Written years after the present story, she recounts the past given the limited evidence available to her, eluding to the inevitable outcome of Grendelís battle with the Four Winds. The use of excerpts are a good way to provide exposition or to circumvent lengthy sequential storytelling. Here, Wagner uses the well-placed device for foreshadowing--building momentum for the thrilling conclusion of the issue.
The second narrator is none other than Hunter Rose himself, who keeps a diary of his own dastardly deeds. This diary is presented in the form of internal monolog narrative boxes with scribbled little letters inside--creating the effect of actually reading the diary as captions to the action.
Intentionally non-descript and reflective, the captions provide a unique view into Grendelís psyche: how he operates, what heís thinking, and what surprises him. By using the diary, Wagner presents a solid manifestation of Grendelís consciousness rather than fleeting thoughts in the heat of battle. Interestingly, Christine Spar makes reference to this diary--creating a narrative dialogue between the two storytellers.
Yet, despite these two narrative voices, Wagner allows the reader to view the action and drama without the obscuring accounts of its narrators. The battle that ensues is bloody, viscous, and exhilarating. Wagner isnít my favorite artist and his scenes sans action are definitely his weakest in terms of storytelling, but he is in his element with action. Violent action. His forms in movement are vibrant and easy to follow--which is pretty difficult to do in a brawl of five against one with an assortment of Asian weaponry.
My only complaint about Grendel: Behold the Devil is the paper quality and price. For $3.50, you get a very worthwhile investment printed on the thickest, non-glossy paper stock available. It is really necessary? I personally donít think so. I like the series so Iíll buy into it, but expect to hear me bitch about it.
Final Word: Great Crime Drama!
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