• Grendel Vs. The Shadow #2

    Grendel Vs. The Shadow #2
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: October 8th, 2014.
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    The second issue of Grendel Vs. The Shadow, written and illustrated by Grendel creator Matt Wagner, picks up directly where the first issue left off. Didn’t read it? Get caught up here and come back when you’re done. On the opening page, The Shadow has his pistols drawn on Grendel and is ready to dish out cold, steely justice! Grendel makes a few quips and they fight, you know that was coming and just as The Shadow gains the upper hand, he runs out of bullets. He’s got more than just pistols to use in his war against crime, however, but when he tries to hypnotize Grendel with his ring, the masked villain proves powerful enough to overcome his influence. Grendel escapes, but barely, and The Shadow manages to steal away his twin blades.

    Grendel, impressed with the fact that he just almost lost a fight, heads back to talk to the Valentis, the mobsters he had coerced into doing business with him for details on his most recent foe. They tell him what they know and then let him know that if the warring Luppino family finds out that they’ve thrown in with Grendel, that there will be Hell to pay. Grendel reassures them that he’ll take care of it and asks Lorenzo to call a meeting of the remaining mafia family leaders. Meanwhile, Margo is tending to Lamont Cranston’s wounds. He too was impressed with the fight that was put up.

    Sofia Valenti goes to visit her friend Frannie and finds that she’s been beaten by her boyfriend, Billy Santini. The Shadow calls on the Luppino boss and finds he and his men slaughtered. The news explodes in the papers and Cranston ponders not only Grendel’s unusual affection for blades but his ability to take down such powerful and well-armed opponents singlehandedly. As he thinks, Grendel acts – meeting with the four remaining family heads and essentially telling them they shall now remain loyal to him. Don Genovese speaks up in protest and is promptly killed in front of the others. He tells them that their loyalty will be rewarded by the vast increase in profits they will see under his leadership, and soon enough they do. He uses his knowledge of history to guide this criminal empire into making every right step. Profits soar, investments pay off and simultaneously Hunter Rose’s writing career takes off, making him the toast of the town… something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Sofia. When Margo and Lamont arrive at a social event to celebrate Rose’s charity work, the two alter egos meet again for the first time.

    Wagner once again ends things on a cliffhanger, and this one is a doozy! Without spoiling the last third of the book, some interesting and clever things happen here and, for lack of a better cliché to use here, the plot thickens. With the upcoming third issue being the final in the mini-series, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens here. Speaking of the plot, the goofiness of the time travel aspect of the story is, to Wagner’s credit, at least given a proper purpose here in that it allows Grendel to effectively take over the crime families, something that wouldn’t have been easy had he not been able to follow through on his promises of huge profits. The subplot involving Margo’s feelings for Lamont and Sofia’s relationship with Hunter are also expanded upon a bit in this issue, so while much of it is more action-intensive than the first issue was, we still get some pretty solid character development to aid in the more dramatic aspects of the storyline.

    The artwork is, once again, top notch. Fans of Wagner’s style will appreciate the attention to detail and the art deco stylings that are so identifiable with much of his work. He uses shadows well here to build suspense and the line work in the opening fight sequence does a great job of conveying action and movement in a very cinematic style while still feeling very much like a comic book, as it should. The coloring from Brennan Wagner is also strong, and while the book is understandably heavy on black, white and red he uses yellows and oranges in interesting, creative ways to heighten dramatic tension in a few key scenes.

    All in all, the second issue is just as strong as the debut issue was – let’s see how Wagner brings all of this to a close next month!