A review by nigellicus
Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 1: Hunter Rose, by Zander Cannon, Woodrow Phoenix, Stan Shaw, Andy Kuhn, Duncan Fegredo, Chris Sprouse, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Mike Allred, Jill Thompson, Tim Bradstreet, Tim Sale, Paul Chadwick, Tom Fowler, D'Israeli, Michael Avon Oeming, Jason Pearson, John Paul Leon, John K. Snyder, David W. Mack, Kelley Jones, Arnold Pander, Cliff Chiang, Michael Zulli, Bernie Mirault, Mike Huddleston, Phil Hester, Ashley Wood, Dean Motter, Ho Che Anderson, Teddy Kristiansen, Darick Robertson, Jacob Pander, Mike Hawthorne, Andi Watson, Phil Noto, Farel Dalrymple, Matt Wagner, Dan Brereton, Guy Davis, Jay Geldhof, Stan Sakai


The original Hunter Rose story that kicked off Grendel always seemed more like an elegant, well-drafted curiosity than anything else, compared to some of the meatier later incarnations of the spirit of violence. An abbreviated biographical summation of an anti-batman - gifted, wealthy young man dons a costume and runs around the streets of a bustling city, except Hunter Rose is a sociopath who seeks to dominate all those around him. It really is a fantastically strange story, particularly the inevitable nemesis in the form of a brutal immortal werewolf/wedigo named Argent. But the whole tragedy is executed in a masterpiece of design and layout.

Wagner returned to Hunter Rose years later in a series of anthologies published by Dark Horse, scripting by hm and illustrated by him and a host of incredible artistic talent. I read them all, but out of order. technically impressive, often gorgeous, marrying writing and art in a wide variety of moods and styles, this is the first time I've read them all in one sitting, along with the original, and it really is an amazing achievement, building up into an epic of crime and violence with sinister supernatural elements that come into full flower in the final chapter. It's novelistic, albeit a novel of thematic progression rather than linear, layering stories and viewpoints to create a vision of an elegant brilliant monster brought low by his one concessions to the softer human emotions.

Anyway, a major achievement in the field of comics. Wagner's abilities and skills have grown impressively since that first impressive experimental exploration of evil.