By Geoff Hoppe
May 10, 2008 - 22:26
|I want a mask like that.|
Grendel: Behold the Devil is Matt Wagner's return to the character who made him famous. Grendel is actually the super-villain identity of Hunter Rose, who by night becomes the mask-wearing, spear-twirling overlord of the criminal underworld. Mob bosses know that Grendel is in charge, and to cross him means elaborate, gory, and deftly illustrated death. In Behold the Devil, a Korean mob boss conveniently forgets this fact, and VOILA-- Grendel has the opportunity to cuisinart a few more random baddies.
Matt Wagner may be better known to current readers for his work on Batman and the Monster Men, Batman and the Mad Monk, and Trinity. Despite the goofy names, all three series, illustrated and written by Wagner, were handsomely drawn and intriguingly written. The two Batman titles brought an exorbitantly gritty, albeit very entertaining, approach to Batman and his beloved Gotham. Their darkness makes sense when one considers that Wagner began his career writing about Grendel, a character who is basically an evil mirror image of Bruce Wayne.
Behold the Devil #6 is definitely entertaining, and the art is up to Wagner's usually high standards. The violence, however, is so overbearing it feels decadent, like the I've-just-been-dumped sketchbook of an unmedicated Aubrey Beardsley. The fight between Grendel and the Korean mob is well paced and has characteristically sophisticated layout. Despite all this, the gore is so front-and-center that it's almost pornographic. It distracts from an otherwise intriguing story about underworld dealings and demonic possession.
Worth the money? If you're a hardcore Grendel fan, sure. If not, check out one of Wagner's Batman titles.