Originally compiled as Version 2.1 in September 1995 by Jeremy Holstein.
Now somewhat maintained by James Turnbull.
This list has been compiled to answer questions about Matt Wagner's Grendel that have been asked in the rec.arts.comics newsgroups. As a long time Grendel-phile, it's been a pleasure to construct this list, and to try to answer some of the questions of who and what Grendel is. I'm not sure of the all the answers myself. To that end I'm always open to comments corrections.
It should also be noted that this list covers only Matt Wagner Grendel appearances. All non-Wagner Grendels will be included in the Bibliography section, but not in the history section as the "Grendel Tales" stories add little to the chronology and can be treated as separate entities. They will only be mentioned where appropriate.
Thanks you, and, as always...
- Jeremy Holstein
As of the last few years I've hosted this FAQ (which was previously only posted in the rec.arts.comics list in text form) so as to maintain the information. In 17 odd years things have gotten out of date or changed. I've kept it up to date in places but left a lot of the original content for posterity. I keep meaning to update it with the more recent releases (an excellent Grendel omnibus series has been released this year for example) and continue to fill in the gaps in back-issues, stories and other items but time is never on my side.
- James Turnbull (2012)
Grendel is a comic created by Matt Wagner. Under the Grendel title, Wagner has published some 60 odd stories about the character. The book is highly experimental in terms of story-telling, but under Wagner's guidance has still managed to maintain a consistent quality. Wagner, a somewhat sporadic creator, has done his most work with the Grendel character to date.
Currently the series is continuing under the banner "Grendel Tales" with little to no direct involvement by Wagner. However several Wagner reprints have been issued by Dark Horse, and most feature new Wagner covers.
This is a far more difficult question to answer than 01, for there have been MANY Grendels throughout the history of the title (see 03). But all the Grendels to date have at least two things in common:
1) All the Grendels have worn the same mask, or a variation thereof. The mask is black with two large white oval eyes, and a small white circle over the nose. Running perpendicular through the ovals are two spear shapes which run the height of a head. The mask is generally attached via a set of straps, tied at the base of the skull. Later versions of the mask have dropped the circle, relying far more on the oval/spear shape displayed over top the wearer's eyes.
2) All of the Grendels have been refereed to by Wagner as "The Spirit of Aggression." Despite some argument as to whether this applies to the current situation of a Grendel in the current story line, to date all Grendels have certainly been portrayed as aggressive people.
In addition, the majority of the Grendels to date have used a weapon refereed to as a "Fork". The weapon appears as a staff, with twin parallel blades perched upon one end. Many variations of the weapon have appeared in the title.
Since the "Tales" series began, Grendel has now taken on a more ritualistic and military style of identity. A Grendel is a position of honour which few can obtain. However the above two rules still apply to all the central protagonists.
The following is a history of the character which was originally printed as a back up for the War Child series. A summary of War Child has been included. It should be noted that since War Child has ended several "Grendel Tales" series have appeared, but as very few of them are interconnected I have chosen to exclude these stories for now. It should also be noted that while this will give you a history to enjoy Grendel in the present, it is in no means a substitute for the original comics, recommended reading all. These summaries are bare bones outlines of some very complex story lines, and they cover over 500 years of continuity. Many details and events have been excluded for the sake of brevity.
Somewhere in the latter part of the twentieth century, in an ordinary midwestern town, to a pair of very ordinary parents, there was born an extra-extraordinary child whose true name is known to us now only as Eddie. A genius of immeasurable depth, Eddie excelled at his every form of endeavour. At the tender age of four, he had memorised his own local phone book as well as that of the surrounding half-dozen counties. By six he could quote any line of Shakespeare, and by eight he had written over a dozen plays and fifty short stories, and was working on drafts for several different (apparently unfinished) novels at once.
Unfortunately for both Eddie and the world, neither his parents nor his pedestrian teachers took much notice of his young achievements, and so the lad was nurtured solely on boredom. Initially Eddie found release from his frustrations in the world of competitive sports, but here, too, he overachieved and soon found himself competing at an international level on the fencing strip. True to form, Eddie took his zeal to the tournament finals, only to secretly throw the match in an agonising denial of how very easy it all had been. It was at this point that Eddie met the woman who would be the most influential person in his young and tragically brutal life.
Jocasta Rose was a trainer for the British fencing team; she found herself fascinated with the daring young prodigy who, she was sure, had just deliberately relinquished his claim to the world championship. A hot-blooded iconoclast herself, Jackie confronted Eddie after the match and swept him off his tired and lonely feet into a world of glorious sensation and romance. Over the space of the next year- which would prove to be the rest of Jocasta Rose's life - she and Eddie never parted company again. A terminal illness killed her less than thirteen months after they first met.
The death of his lover devastated the young genius, but her fiery spirit lingered in his soul. His will to fight and achieve was twisted by twisted his grief into a monstrous and insatiable ideal. Returning incognito to the States, he adopted the name of Hunter Rose and soon wrote several best sellers, taking the literary world by storm at the age of seventeen. But, still, there remained an empty fury in Hunter Rose's heart. The need to achieve became the lust to control, and so another alias to an already fractured personality was born. The crime families of Manhattan were soon confronted with a presence even deadlier and more , heartless than their own. The name of the masked assassin Grendel was spoken only in whispers, and many a seasoned killer prayed to avoid running afoul of whoever held Grendel's contractual reins of the moment. In less than two years, Grendel had moved into a position of power over one of the major families, and he soon consolidated his realm to include most of the criminal activities within the entire metropolitan area. Once again, he had won easily over seemingly insurmountable odds. But where was the challenge that would unseat him, the battle he could never win, the heart of fire that would rival his own?
In fact, it was early in his nefarious career that Grendel first encountered the two lives that would ultimately prove to be the undoing of his own. The adopted niece of a crooked real-estate mogul, Stacy Palumbo captured what little empathy still existed in Hunter Rose's icy heart by her unnatural resemblance to his first love. Following the death of her uncle at Grendel's hand, Stacy came to live with Hunter as his legal ward. Ironically, the only other friend to this lonely child was Grendel's greatest enemy, Argent, the mysterious wolf. In Stacy, Hunter saw the potential and innocence that might have been his own lot, and, in Argent, he found the fury and power that were indeed his fate. This pathetic triangle was destined for tragedy, of course, and Stacy's discovery of her mentor's true identity precipitated the climax. Grendel and Argent met in a final, ferocious battle that left the wolf broken and withdrawn, and proved to be the ultimate doom for the man the world had known as Hunter Rose.
Stacy Palumbo spent the rest of her days in an institution. She was briefly released around the age of twenty-five to marry her analyst, but, here again, tragedy clouded her young, hopeless life. The wedding night became a rape/suicide, the result of which was the birth of Stacy's only daughter, Christine, who was soon given up for adoption. Following this, the tortured stepdaughter of Grendel lapsed into a stupor that lasted the rest of her days. Christine would never know her real mother until, years later, she interviewed Stacy for a book she was writing on the life of Grendel: Devil by the Deed.
The Wolf went into seclusion and was rarely seen in public again.
The daughter of Hunter Rose's adopted ward Stacy, Christine Powell spent her entire life trying to shake off the ugly vestiges of a legacy she never really knew. Even the untimely death of her husband, war correspondent Peter Spar, served only to remind her of the bloody heritage thrust upon her not only by the world at large but, indeed, by her very lineage. Finally, Christine decided to exorcise these inner demons by undertaking an in-depth examination of the man whom her mother had actually ~ succeeded in killing. ' This investigation served instead to awaken in her an even deeper fascination for the man known as Grendel, and the result was the now infamous book Devil by the Deed. It was shortly after the advent of her new-found notoriety as an '-. author that Christine and her young son Anson attended a kabuki theatre performance at Radio City Music Hall. At first, Christine found herself entranced with the star dancer, Tujiro XIV, but in a subsequent backstage meeting she was soon repulsed by his boldly lascivious manner. As she tucked Anson into bed later that night, little did Christine suspect that this would be the last time she would ever see her only son alive.
When police investigations yielded nothing on Anson's disappearance, Christine took up the chase herself and soon made a startling discovery: a trail of disappearances, all of young boys and all coinciding with the nation-wide tour schedule of Tujiro's kabuki troupe. Grief-stricken, but focused with a cold and unreasoning hatred, Christine set about the task either of rescuing or of revenging her missing child. Knowing this would take her into a realm outside the law, Christine resolved to disguise herself behind a persona that literally embodied the contemptuous emotions in which she was slowly drowning. Stealing the original mask and fork of Hunter Rose, she set off for the west coast and the spirit of Grendel was thus born again. In San Francisco, she eventually caught up with the travelling show and began a cover espionage of her suspect, which soon revealed even more shocking facts. Tujiro was, in fact, a vampire who not only displayed a marked taste for young boys but also doubled as the head of an international slavery ring. It was here that Christine Spar's trail of vengeance hit an unexpected snag. Throughout her intricate hunt for the monster, Tujiro, she had, found herself becoming involved with the stage manager of the kabuki theatre's latest venue, Brian Li Sung. When Christine discovered that Tujiro intended to kidnap Brian to serve as the latest slave in his insidious schemes, her rage finally exploded and the stage was set for the final confrontation. After a fierce and bloody battle that failed to bag her intended prey but did succeed in breaking the vampire's ring of power, Christine was forced to flee both the city on the bay and the gentle young man she had so quickly come to love.
Although she did her best to leave both the persona and her actions as Grendel behind, Christine soon found herself swept along in the hatred and fear that had marked the life of her predecessor. Back in New York, she was immediately hounded by both the police and Grendel's original nemesis, Argent the wolf. When Brian Li Sung followed her back to the east coast, he soon fell victim to this police brutality, and Christine finally gave herself over to the overwhelming anger of Grendel. In a battle that seemed written by the cruel hand of destiny, she finally met her end at the hands of the vicious Argent but not before she succeeded in killing the monstrous wolf as well. The legacy of Grendel, it seems, had at last seen its end or had it?
The death of Christine Spar left another, all-but-unnoticed casualty in its bloody wake, the bruised and tortured spirit of her young lover, Brian. Firm in his blind ambition to steer Chris from her seemingly fated path, Brian had no idea how this vortex of violence would eventually prove too much for his own fragile soul as well. His tragic catharsis first began at the very moment of Christine's death as Grendel. It was only later that Brian began to realise the full extent of her isolated madness and lonely certainty that she passed onto him in the form of Grendel's logs. These copious journals which included not only those volumes stolen by her mother, Stacy, from the original fiend, Hunter Rose, but also Christine's own account of her life as Grendel were secretly buried by their jealous owner in the unmarked wilds of Central Park. Nestled under the pillows of the same bed in which he and Chris had shared their last moments together, Brian discovered both a map and the key to this strongbox containing the festering memoirs of demons.
Unable to leave these infamous relics behind, Brian was also quite sure the encroaching eyes of the police would never allow him to smuggle the journals out of New York either. He soon found himself taking a low-paying job off-Broadway as well as making do with dreadful living conditions all to ensure that he might spend his evenings slowly drowning in the lives of two people possessed by violence.
Lost not only in the past, but also in the harsh, day-to-day existence of New York, Brian soon found himself victim to all the pent-up anger and frustration revealed in the pages of his newly sacred texts. A recovered alcoholic, Brian desperately began drinking again. He experienced memory losses as well as outbursts of temper and even started keeping secret journals himself. Eventually, he became convinced he had actually encountered Christine's ghost in the seedy confines of the theatre he managed. In an effort to once again call forth his lover's spirit, he finally donned a crude Grendel mask which he had fashioned to act as a talisman. Although the apparition never materialised, its presence was felt when Brian, still masked, viciously battered a security guard who had interrupted the ritual. Although outwardly sickened by this startling change in his demeanour, internally Brian continued to nurture his growing rage. The evolution of Brian's violence finally peaked with the killing of a would-be assailant in Central Park. In his obsessive zeal to know and understand Grendel he had in fact become the fiend. Continually hounded by the flamboyant Captain Wiggins of the New York Police, Brian then began to perceive his condition as an actual possession. The spirit of Grendel had somehow burrowed its way into his soul and there it gestated, a diabolic consciousness that cared naught for anyone most especially the hapless host body it so viciously toyed with.
The final stage in Brian's madness came when his delusions focused on the person of Captain Wiggins. Convinced that Wiggins was keen to the truth of his masked excursions, "Grendel" next decided to stalk and eliminate the troublesome cop. Here Brian's tragic downslide reached its conclusion but not without a final moment of redemption. Bound by the demon's desires to hunt down his persecutor, Brian nevertheless strove to break what he saw as Grendel's control over his body and mind. Unable to resist, he trailed the detective over the course of an evening until his path eventually led to Central Park and the site of Brian's one and only act of murder. In these last moments of confrontation, Brian fought an internal battle for the sake of his very soul. His defiance finally triumphed, as Brian barely managed to stay his own attack by a crucial fraction of a second all the time necessary for Captain Wiggins to turn and shot this latest Grendel dead.
With the death of Brian Li Sung, the force he had perceived as a conscious, aggressive entity went into an extended period of apparent remission. It was to be almost five hundred years before another singular incarnation of Grendel would walk the earth again. This is not to say that Grendel had no effect during this time. Far from it. In fact, human civilisation continued to feel the weight of Grendel's rage -- but in a far more subtle and, in the long run, insidious manner.
As the one surviving person to have been directly involved with the succession of criminals known as Grendel, Captain Albert Wiggins suddenly found himself having an unexpected celebrity status. Eventually, he left COP (Confederacy of Police) to retire in the tropics and spin out a series of best-selling tales about Hunter Rose, the only Grendel Wiggins had never actually met. With this success came all the trappings of luxury as well as all the pressures of wealth. It was later in life and in his new career that Albert Wiggins finally began to go mad. Spurred on by an apparent malfunction in his prosthetic eye, Wiggins began seeing the world around him as distorted and grotesque. Fans, publishers, agents, even his doctor took on a hideous demeanour behind the waves of Wiggins' dementia. Finally, his sense of reality lost, Wiggins succumbed to his own inner rage and stabbed his nagging young wife to death. Grendel, it seemed, had managed to strike again.
A century passed before the presence of Grendel would be so directly felt again. In that time, the power of civil government had dwindled. Mega-corporations now controlled most everything, and the biggest of these was Omni Broadcasting and Entertainment Systems (OBES). At the head of the board of directors sat Charles Dore', a rather complacent executive who nonetheless saw Omni's bevy of Grendel entertainment products as an effective tool for spreading into an even wider world market. At the opposing end of Omni's management sat Harold White. While Charles Dore' strove for constant expansion, Harold's schemes were entirely directed towards eliminating competition. Harold deemed the world's civil governments to be both obsolete and deserving of nothing less than absolute destruction. In the end, this doubled-edged greed led from mistrust to misconception to tragic global mishap. The result was the world's first extended nuclear conflict, the near eradication of the mid-eastern OPEC nations, and the total contamination of a major portion of the world's crude oil supply. From within the very core of the system itself, Grendel had struck again.
The resulting social upheaval caused by this environmental tragedy affected life on earth as had no other event in over a millennium. the world's major power supply had been severely crippled, and, finally, the people of earth were forced to adopt alternative sources of energy. Many methods were developed but none more successfully than solar power. In a world now even more dependent on the sun, life in the uppermost northern hemisphere soon became undesirable. In a mass exodus unlike anything seen before or since, the world populace began slowly to situate itself closer to the equator. In America, the United States now became the United Californian Systems of America, and the already crumbling east-coast megapolis soon became an immense ghost town of concrete and steel. A few savage tribes/gangs continued to linger in the ruins, constantly fighting amongst themselves for control of the few oil storage tanks that still retained some usable sludge in their depths. One of these clans, the Forx, adopted the figure of Grendel as their totem. They believed that the oil should be torched rather than be put to any use whatsoever -- a nihilistic penance for what they saw as man's never-ending aggression. Grendel, at last, had gained a welcome foothold in the psyche of a race -- as opposed to that of an individual.
Several hundred years passed before the world again took on some semblance of a civilised structure. The rising new world order was mishmash of opportunistic religion, obsessive personal indulgence, and the slogging advances of a technology not yet sure of itself. The battle for control of the fading American Empire was fought in the church pew as well as in the boardrooms, and, perhaps most importantly, in the chemical-swilling minds of the public at large. Drugs were big business in this world of the future, and corporations strove incessantly for that elusive stimulant mixture that would provide the greatest euphoria with the fewest side effects. It was these zealous experiments that culminated in a heinous accident, which unleashed a new and dangerous drug on an already imbalanced populace. This drug, whose laboratory designation was Arcana-Prime, ultimately became known by the infamous term that the Church itself had even adopted to replace the more antiquated name of "Satan". The kingdom of Grendel was at hand.
Another period of darkness had settled over the globe. Following WWIII there came the great migrations, as the world of men slowly divided itself into continents by race. In the face of all this social upheaval, the Christian church once again re-emerged as a powerful force in people's lives. Dominant but fractured, the Church eventually also split into racial factions across the earth.
This period came to a peak under the American papacy of Innocent XLII. The latest in a long line of despotic popes, Innocent was a media darling, a talented manipulator of overwhelming charisma. Invoking antiquated laws of civic funding, Pope Innocent had for years been financially pursuing the continued growth of an immense tower in Denver, at the pinnacle of which sat Vatican Ouest.Ouest. This outright purging of the public welfare soon aroused the enmity of a civic-minded aristocrat, Orion Assante, the son of a excommunicated family. Taking the matter before America's central Board of Directors, Orion succeeded in being appointed head of a regulatory panel known as the Tower Commission. Knowing full well the immense uphill struggle he had accepted, even Orion had no way of guessing how twisted this adventure would soon prove to be. As he settled down with his sisters/lovers to view the televised ceremonies for the beginning of Lent, Orion was truly shocked to see the devil himself walk the earth once again.
As Innocent XLII began accepting the congregational tithes, the ceiling of St. Elvis Cathedral exploded, and a ragged, spindly Grendel figure dropped onto the altar of the church. There, in front of millions of viewers, this unknown devil callously killed several worshippers before stealing the flying collection platter and dumping the offerings into the throngs of the faithful, swarming through the streets surrounding the Tower. What followed were a series of terrorist attacks, each more random and bizarre than the last. This mysterious Grendel was effectively wearing away at the public faith, and the man at the head of that trust was furious. Innocent turned to the mercenary police squads of COP for assistance by striking an unholy deal with their jaded leader, Pellon Cross. Thus, while Orion continued to attack the Church in a legal sense, Grendel proved to be the greater thorn in Innocent's side. Still, the grand Easter mass was approaching, and for this, Innocent turned to his lackey Pellon Cross with an even greater request.
Innocent, it was soon revealed, was actually building a very special gun high in the upper recesses of the Tower's central spire -- a weapon for which the final component was the forbidden element plutonium. Personally challenged by this ultimate act of thievery, Pellon Cross succeeded in securing the necessary material -- but at the cost of his very life. After delivering the nuclear core to his master, Pellon discovered the fateful truth behind the papal robes: that Innocent XLII was, in fact, centuries-old vampire Tujiro XIV -- and his gun, a device meant to eradicate the sun!
Meanwhile, Orion's own activities had in turn driven him into self-imposed exile and had cost the lives of his treasured sisters as well. His path eventually led him to the discovery of this latest Grendel's true identity: an idiot/savant and societal victim name Eppy Thatcher. It was while trying to confront this maniacal rebel that Orion encountered the confused and newly vampire Pellon Cross. Finally realising the immensity of the situation, Orion led a mercenary armada in a desperate attack against the Tower, as the Easter sun broke over the Rocky Mountains. As the day's ceremony progressed, several forces converged on the Tower: Orion and his troops; Pellon and steadily swelling army of vampires; and Grendel himself, seeking personal battle with a persistent and ancient foe. The resultant battle was a catastrophic, with Orion's forces just barely managing to dynamite the Tower as the deadly Sun-Gun was being ignited. The monster/pope was incinerated by the full force of the blast, which then carved a path of destruction across the face of the city. Grendel, also caught by the powerful beam, blazed out of sight in a trail of twisted glory. As Orion surveyed the carnage from his air-cruiser, a grim realisation came to this man who had tried for so long to fight by the rules: there are no rules but the ones we make for ourselves. Orion could not see the many vampire survivors far below, crawling from the wreckage to follow their leader Pellon off into the twilight.
Following the collapse of Vatical Tower there came a period of grand upheaval in America. Not only was Christianity being abandoned by the masses, but now there was an ancient and largely unknown plague to contend with. In the confusion following the Sun-Gun catastrophe, Orion Assante emerged as a tireless leader in the crusade to stem the tides of vampirism. As a result of this relentless pogrom, the vampires went underground in the resort system of VEGAS. Eventually they were contained in one of the massive casinos, which soon became a high-security prison known as Grendel's Palace.
Shortly after his political rise to the top, Orion finally consummated his long-standing relationship with Sherri Caniff. It was on one of her many missions of foreign diplomacy that Sherri met the Australian psychic, Manny McDoon. Manny soon joined Orion's core group of advisors, his secret abilities often giving his master the edge necessary to ensure victory in most political arenas. Orion's ultimate goal was a solitary global government, and through the use of his "Orion's Sword" military fraternity, he soon managed to unite the entire western hemisphere under his increasingly imperial rule. Fearing both competition from Great Japan as well as rumours concerning redeveloped nuclear technology, Orion sought to extend his influence into the eastern half of the world as well.
A turning point was reached when a seemingly independent group of terrorists kidnapped Sherri Caniff. With ruthless efficiency, Orion managed to rescue his mate as well as utterly destroy her captors. The message to the world was clear: Orion Assante would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Only later did he learn that the espionage was really masterminded by Great Japan. It as during this time that Orion's growing legions of troops began to refer to themselves as Grendels (this stemmed from an older nickname for Orion due to his role in the collapse of the Church: "Grendel - the scourge of God").
Worldwide unity was neither an easy nor inevitable goal. With various forces opposing his efforts, Orion battled fiercely over the next decade to secure the beginnings of his world empire. As war between the east and west became imminent, Orion found himself besieged on all sides. He zealously struggled to maintain control of the ground already gained. It was during this period of incalculable stress that Sherri Caniff lost her life to cancer. Bereft at his loss and disgusted with public life, Orion seemingly abandoned his goals and went into seclusion along with the semiretired Manny. Finally, Orion found the source of his meditative cure. He convinced Manny to use the last of his mental powers to help the troubled leader locate the person who had once embodied the madness Orion felt consuming him now - Eppy Thatcher.
Returning to public life, Orion again took up the helm of leadership as war with Japan was just beginning. With the development of improved solar superconductors, he was able to ensure victory at last with the creation of the incredible Sun Disc. This flying device soon proved the the ultimate weapon as it levelled a path of solar destruction across the Japanese archipelago. As his last enemies sank into the sea, Orion declared himself ruler of the globe and assumed the mantle of the first Grendel-Khan.
Unfortunately, with all his battles now won, the fight seemed suddenly to go out of Orion. He lay down a code of ethics for his worldwide legions of troops, but otherwise left the daily tasks of ruling to a battery of aides. In a vain effort to produce an heir to his lonely throne, he eventually married on of his young assistants, Laurel Kennedy. The union proved to be fruitless and, finally, Orion made only two further contributions to world politics in his waning years. The first was to reinstate the long dormant pogroms against all vampires. soon driving them and their sacred-cow leader, Pellon Cross, into exile. The other was to miraculously fulfil the purpose of his unhappy marriage by both carrying and the bearing an heir, himself, from a surgically-constructed male womb. Leaving the government in the hands of his wife, Orion went into seclusion to raise his son and died quietly in his sleep on October 17, 2588.
The rightful heir, Orion's only son Jupiter, was cloistered away in an underground military complex deep in the Dakota Black Hills. His political captivity was engineered by his stepmother, then presiding regent Laurel Assente, whose power-driven schemes make a prisoner of her own daughter Crystal, as well.
In a flurry of mysterious circumstances, Jupiter is abducted by a solitary Grendel. Easily bypassing the most sophisticated security the assailant left a long and bloody trail as he sped across the continent with his precious hostage. Laurel frantically attempts to recover the boy before news of the kidnapping became public. With the help of her intelligence minister, Heath, she made futile attempts to reaquire the heir from the Grendel known as Grendel Prime. To prevent further damage to her tenuous position, her daughter Crystal is placed under a higher level of security under personal guard of a Grendel named Susan. Laurel becomes more and more obsessed with outwitting this Grendel, only to find her every effort thwarted. In her frustration she slowly drives herself mad with power, and the treacherous Heath is able to seize power through deception.
Grendel Prime and Jupiter Assante go through a long series of treacherous journeys to avoid capture. They encounter Grendel troops, Mutants, Witches, Pirates, Gorillas and (of course) Vampires, who are all dispatched quite handily by Grendel Prime. Eventually they are captured by a group of Rebels who recognise Laurel and Heath's perversion of Orion's dream and are fighting to restore honour to the throne. Grendel Prime reveals he is a cyborg hand picked by Orion to safeguard his son away from those who would seek him harm. After a brutal assault by the Kahn's troops, this group of rebels fade away with Grendel Prime and Jupiter into the mountains where they are not seen again for ten years.
Meanwhile Crystal has formed a close relationship with her guard Sarah. As the two become closer Sarah's loyalties shift away from the Kahn and the Crystal herself. Eventually the two become lovers, and at Crystal's request Sarah spirits her out of the military compound and away from her mother's influence. The two escape and go into hiding, not to be seen again for the next ten years.
TO BE CONCLUDED
Grendel has appeared in various titles, in various formats. Primarily the book was published by Comico until 1989 when bad blood and bankruptcy forced the title's hiatus. Grendel has now been revived with Dark Horse, and has enjoyed a healthy relationship since. (See Section 9 for details).
Matt Wagner's work has appeared in many different books, published by many different companies. What follows is a very incomplete list of his work, divided into three categories (STORY AND ART, JUST ART, and JUST STORY). Any corrections and/or additions would be very appreciated.
This list is much outdated as of 2012 and Matt Wagner's own bibliography is much more up-to-date.
Argent is Grendel's nemesis. Wagner stated at the beginning of the series that he wanted to examine the shaes of gray of what is good and what is evil, so he made his first Grendel (Hunter Rose) very suave and appealing, which the hero was utterly despicable. Argent thus is a very gruff, half/human half wolf hybrid. He claims to be a 300 year old Indian shaman who was cursed by his tribe for a forbidden love affair. The Silverback series portrays Argent as an ordinary man possessed by the spirit of Masun, the spirit of death.
The Devil Inside seems to indicate so. The story is told through two narratives: Brian Li Sung's, and what seems to be Brian's sub-consciousness. At the end of the second chapter (issue 14 of the colour series), the sub-conscious narrative starts to refer to Brian as a "host". This would explain how the Grendel persona has survived over 400 years. It would also indicate that there might have been Grendels BEFORE Hunter Rose, and this has been underscored by the Grendel Tales series "War Hammer", wherein a character possessed by the spirit of Grendel rattles out a long procession of names presumed to be past Grendels.
Wagner has a history of delayed projects, but it is not always his fault. Many of his projects have been delayed or cancelled due to the bankruptcy of Comico in the summer of '90.
The following is an inside view of the Comico collapse from Timothy Mennel, the Managing Editor of PHILOSOPHY & PUBLIC AFFAIRS, and former submissions and new projects editor for Comico from 1989-1990.
"The principle cause of Comico's financial woes was the news stand distribution idea. Expanding to news stand meant adding returnable sales, which necessitated *much* higher print runs than on direct-only titles. The losses mounted much more quickly than anyone realised, and this is what forced the first Comico Implosion in 1989. (Diana Schutz told me that the expansion to news stand required more titles and more revenue, which is why the company picked up so many new titles in 1988--such as TROLLORDS, TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, etc.-in an effort to find a cash cow.)
"Matt had always planned to end GRENDEL with issue #40, planning to replace it with GRENDEL TALES and GRENDEL LOGS, which would be created by other writers and artists under his supervision. The first GRENDEL TALES arc would have been written by Matt, with Eddie Campbell drawing. This project has been abandoned and Campbell has sold the art he did for it. The second arc would have been written by James Robinson. GRENDEL LOGS was to be a miniseries of entirely black-white-and-red stories. Dark Horse periodically announces plans to do both TALES and LOGS.
"Part-way through the production of the final GRENDEL arc (the Wagner/Sale issues, #34-40), Matt changed his mind and began writing the story that became WAR CHILD. Because he had waited so long, the book had to go on hiatus. The important point here is that the hiatus was planned before the bankruptcy and had nothing to do with the increasing bad blood between Matt (and Diana Schutz) and Comico's then-publishers, Phil and Dennis LaSorda. Grendel was to break for five months, and then return with #41. The planned issues #41-50 were identical to what was put out as WAR CHILD, except that the covers were to be by John Estes (DC's STREETS), who painted three or four of them before the bankruptcy.
"Comico's financial problems became critical in February 1990, the month GRENDEL #40 came out. At this point, much of the work on #41-43 had already been started. Comico filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but continued to meet all of its freelancer's bills, though not always in full or on time. Nevertheless, production on both GRENDEL and GRENDEL TALES, which was to begin simultaneously with GRENDEL #41-, continued.
"Comico at this point was still distributed by DC, and so had their books promoted in the monthly DC flier. Although relations steadily worsened between the GRENDEL staff (Wagner, Schutz, et al.) and the Comico office, Comico continued to promote the return of GRENDEL, both in the DC flier (see solicitations for August 1990, e.g.), and through ads in the other Comico books (ELEMENTALS, etc.). Comico was planning a major re-launch over the summer, adding several new titles (including BATMAN/GRENDEL), and GRENDEL would have been advertised in many of those titles as well. Then in May Comico ran out of money completely.
"BATMAN/GRENDEL got tied up here, as Comico was supposed to pay all the creative costs and DC all the promotional costs. Comico was unable to pay the thousands of dollars owed Wagner, Ken Bruzenak, Joe Matt, etc.
"The LaSordas ceded control of the company to Andrew Rev, who over the next few weeks fired the remaining Comico staff, leaving no contact but him for the GRENDEL group. He claimed GRENDEL as an asset of the company, meaning that Matt could not take it elsewhere. Matt took this as an infringement on his creative rights (although he had signed a contract to produce GRENDEL scripts and inks for Comico) and refused to produce work for Rev-which is understandable because Rev is an [explicative deleted] of gargantuan proportions and took to harassing Matt at home at all hours. Much of the AERIALIST appears to be based on Matt's experiences with the LaSordas and Rev."
This explains the long publication delay for Grendel, and may also affect Mage II (although I suspect the delay on Mage is more Wagner's fault than Rev's.) Mage II has been promised since the summer of 1989, BEFORE the Comico collapse, and was delayed. Wagner has not, to my knowledge, completed any work on the series to this date. He has promised to FINALLY begin work upon this project upon completion of Batman/Grendel II.
The Aerialist has been delayed due to Wagner's busy schedule. It was begun during a lull in Wagner's career (shortly after the Comico collapse) which since passed, leaving him little time to pursue low-paying jobs. Dark Horse has even gone so far as to schedule the Aerialist's return three times now, with no success. Wagner has stated that he will not work on the Aerialist again until he completes his next big Batman crossover. Currently he is scripting DC's Sandman Mystery Theater, and is working hard on Batman/Grendel II.
The oft mentioned Grendel Novel has been shelved. In a Comics Journal interview, Wagner states that one day he realised that he just wasn't much of a prose author. Selections of this manuscript saw print in the back of the Silverback mini-series.
To subscribe to Ancient Brain Parts -The Matt Wagner Newsletter 'N' Stuff, send a postcard to:
Ancient Brain Parts
P.O. Box 14891
Portland, OR 97214
(Albeit I have no if this address still works - JKT 2012)
Also visit the unofficial on-line version on the web here.
This page is maintained by Dan Homer, who gave me his permission to steal sections from his excellent bibliography of Matt Wagner projects. His list has been revised and expanded for this FAQ, and can be seen as Section 6.
Here's Diana Schultz's answer to that question, from Grendel War Child #6:
"A lot of readers have been bombarding me with similar requests for information, so I'll attempt to five you the foods. First, for those of you who have never written or drawn comics professionally, please read what Randy Stradley wrote regarding submissions in the back of Grendel War Child #s 2 and 3. Then, send a self addressed stamped envelope to the Dark Horse Submissions Editor with a request for writer's and/or artists' guidelines. Those will tell you what you need to know generally about hoe to submit. Keep in mind that your submission should be brief (4-5 pages is a good ballpark.)
Regarding submissions to Grendel Tales in particular, you'll need to be thoroughly conversant with the entire Grendel story line, but all stories are to be set in the post-Orion era. A plot synopsis in essential; an issue-by-issue break down is preferable. Character sketches and sample storytelling pages (photocopies only, please) are also necessary. If you do not draw then you must find an artist who is willing to work with you. Comics is a medium involving both words and pictures; no Grendel Tales submissions will be considered unless they incorporate both writing and art.
Send your proposals to Matt Wagner in care of Dark Horse. Make sure to include your name, address and phone number. If Matt is interested, you'll hear from him."
HOWEVER! BE WARNED!
From Grendel Classics #1:
"Matt and I have decided not to release Grendel Tales as a successively numbered series. However, as of 1996, we will no longer publish the series on a monthly basis. Rather, we plan to release one maybe two Grendel series per year, with Matt writing at least some of the stories. (so, with the current backlog of Tales submissions, we really don't want any more for quite some time)."
So the best we can say right now is if you submit to Grendel Tales you're asking for disappointment.
(This is current as of September, 1995)
Matt Wagner is currently hard at work on the sequel to Batman/Grendel II, to be release hopefully in the first quarter of next year.
He is also writing a Mr. Midnight series for DC with John K. Snyder doing the art. Initial released sketches look great.
Matt has also hinted at an erotic project which may see print at some time in the future. Possibly as a card set!
Matt has stated that upon completion of Batman/Grendel II, he will begin work upon Mage II.
Matt has also stated that he DOES intend to get back to the Aerialist at some point in the future, but certainly not until after Batman/Grendel II.
Matt is also intending to write some new Grendel Tales books in the coming year.
The following list are the comics I'm currently missing. If any kind soul wants to thank me for compiling this FAQ, this would be a wonderful way. I'm always reachable through E-mail, and we could set up some sort of exchange. I believe many of these turn up in the 25 cent bin from time to time...
Not really much legal stuff, as FAQ's are always questionable anyway. All I ask is that you keep this document intact if you distribute it. If sections must be used (IE a bibliography), just give me some credit, ok? Thanks!
- Jer (ME!) & James