A ‘Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 1: Hunter Rose’ review
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I originally read Grendel upon recommendation from a friend, and I will admit I was skeptical. Upon first inspection, it appears to be the lovechild of Jeph Loeb à la Daredevil: Yellow, and Robert Kirkman, neither of which I have been particularly impressed by in the past. However, by the end of the volume I found my opinion had completely shifted. Grendel is surprisingly complex, rivaling Sin City in terms of its inter-connected yet cohesive narrative.
Written by Matt Wagner, the story has every element that makes up a noir classic. This omnibus is actually made up of several different stories that all involve the Grendel persona. Wagner is quoted as saying that he developed the series as a “study in aggression,” and that definitely fits with the over-all narrative and visual aesthetic of the book. The Grendel persona is generally limited to the first Grendel—an assassin/mob boss named Hunter Rose—and his descendants, or those connected to his descendants in some personal way. That is where the limitation ends. Those who take the mantle of Grendel are constructed in many ways throughout the series; good, bad, man, woman, and everything in between. This continual cycle of change keeps the narrative fresh, but does grow a little tedious at times.
Where the genius of this series comes into play is that moment when you begin to recognize that all the stories are connected, not only through use of the Grendel persona, but through various narrative and thematic allusions that I’ll leave you to discover on your own.
Visually, Grendel jumps around a lot. Many different artists worked on this series, and normally that would bother me, but because the arcs are so segregated it actually works really well to emphasize the distinction between the various short stories.
Overall, I ended up really enjoying this, and would definitely recommend it.