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Part 1 of a piecewise review of Matt Wagner's Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 1: Hunter Rose

By Dan Horn
Aug 29, 2012 - 13:36

A comprehensive Grendel omnibus seems somewhat overdue, but Dark Horse's four-book series of mammoth Grendel collections should appease any long-suffering fan of Matt Wagner's antiheroic saga. The first tome, released just this month, focuses appropriately on the quintessential Grendel, Hunter Rose, and amasses over twenty issues (approx. 600 pages) from various miniseries and one-shots. The omnibus utilizes Wagner's Grendel: Devil by the Deed as a prologue.

1986's stand-alone Devil by the Deed, which ran as a serialized backup in Wagner's Mage series (1984-1986), provides not only an introduction to lead character Hunter Rose, who is a kind of anti-Bruce Wayne/Batman, his enigmatic, lycanthropic foil, Argent, and Stacy, the orphaned girl for whom they both share a disturbingly amorous propensity, but also to the red and black dichromatic motif of Hunter Rose's chronicles. It is in the visuals that this opening installment shines. The chapter is a revelation in graphical storytelling, marrying a sequential narrative, able to inculcate its reader without a single word, with an art deco élan and assiduous design.

The written narrative accompanying the book's spellbinding panels, however, is where artist/writer Wagner blunders. That narrative is obscenely tumescent, even too hefty, dry, and uninteresting for its fictional guise of journalism. It is also impossibly complicated, breezing through Hunter's convoluted origins and subsequent career as the criminal mastermind Grendel to an endpoint that will either find you confused, apathetic, inadvertently snoozing, or a bit of all three.

If you do pick up Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 1: Hunter Rose, it is worth glossing over these pages for the artistic tour de force on display, but the bloated reading experience itself might just spoil your appetite for more Hunter Rose.

The next part of this piecewise review will cover Grendel: Black, White, and Red, a series of vignettes written by Wagner and illustrated by a bevy of the industry's best artists.

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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