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Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #1 Review

4 min read
Duty-bound to serve.

Duty-bound to serve.

Creative Staff:
Story: Matt Wagner
Art: Matt Wagner
Colors: Brennan Wagner
Letterer: Dave Lanpear

What They Say:
All-new Grendel from Matt Wagner! Grendel Prime searches the stars for a new home for mankind, and Matt Wagner returns to his darkest creation! As civilization comes to an end on Earth, the final Grendel Khan gives Grendel Prime a new directive: Find a perfect planet to be the new home for the human race. But will the deadly and relentless paladin ultimately save humanity . . . or destroy it? Grendel Prime continues the legacy in a space adventure! Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror combine.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I had a lot of reluctance to going back into the world of Grendel. I enjoyed taking a spin through a completing arc of Mage with the Wagners but I also knew that it could not – and should not – recapture what made the series what it was when it began. Each was of the time and place. With Grendel, however, it has been a lot more adaptable over the decades and in some ways, a less personal story for Wagner compared to the lead of Mage. It’s been a long time since we had anything with Grendel Prime as well and I’ll admit a wariness to continuing on with that character as part of me craved something new. This series is very much rooted in the past but it’s also looking toward the future, which helps to soothe some of the concerns.

Taking place generations after where we last left Prime, hundreds of years, he’s spent his time keeping out of the affairs of humanity. But he’s drawn back into it with an unused communication form that catches his curiosity as Juno II, the final Grendel-Khan, needs him for a mission. The choices of past Khan’s have lead to this moment where the things that Orion Assante put into motion are now finally crumbling into nothingness and opposing forces are sieging the castle. Juno knows all of this and has a last resort plan that has been in motion for over a decade now, one that requires the faithful service of Grendel Prime. And Juno does put on quite the verbal show in order to convince him to do so. It’s a delicate balance but the invocations of the past and the service that Prime does still adhere to, especially when it came to Orion, makes for a great background filling in point with the state of the world.

The reality of Juno II is that mankind is just stuck into all of this violence unless it can find a way to start anew. That has him breaking taboos and putting together a nuclear-powered ship that will take Prime to the stars, guided by a PDA Drone that will do a lot of the technical work. With a limited mission parameter set on violence, he wants Prime to go and find a new world and use the cloned cells of Orion and key players from the past to bring mankind to a new world. Prime’s really unable to decline and that takes us into the journey itself to a new world where we see how the exploration is going, as the three prior worlds were failures for them. It’s something that’s wrapped well with the start of the mission done as a flashback while also getting a handle on what the dynamic between Prime and the drone, who prefers to be called Siggy, is like. That’s a kind of standard thing and I imagine Siggy will grate at times but it works well to get everything into motion.

In Summary:
While the launching points here are pretty familiar and it reminds me of a lot of very old school science fiction, it’s exactly what the property needs at this point. Moving into new territory and leaving the past behind – which I suspect will catch up in some way before the end – gives this a fresh feeling. But really, the thing that got me with this and to grade it as high as I have is that it’s what I wanted when it comes to finally being done with the Orion Assante dream and all that came afterward. And it puts it together with such fantastic artwork, smoothness in the storytelling through the panels, and beautiful artwork. While Prime is not my favorite character, personality or visually (Eppy Thatcher!), there’s a great presence in him and is ideal for carrying through this project. Matt Wagner feels like he’s still drawing this as he has for the past couple of decades and there’s a wonderful kind of consistency there mixed in with the growth that comes from time with the layouts and some of the more science-fiction elements of the ship and the drone. I’m excited for what’s to come and this just puts me in the perfect mood for all of it.

Grade: A

Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: October 2nd, 2019
MSRP: $3.99

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