This ended up being a cautionary tale about picking up a book solely because hey! I have a cat named Grendel! Being somewhat ignorant of comics, I wasn't aware that Grendel is a series that has been running since the early 80s. So bad on me. Though I could follow what was going on in the broad strokes, my lack of familiarity with the characters meant I missed a lot of nuance, and I could feel it. This is a regular problem with me and comics. Because I have no idea what a good entrance point into a mythology that has been building and doubling back for decades, I just think bah and ignore them. Ain't nobody got time for that.
That said, the story itself is a nasty little piece of work, charting the brutal sexual psychology of a very messed up woman. Ruminating over years and laying traps that then snap at the reveal, Grendel manages to tell a solid tale, even despite my ignorance. The art is really good, with lots of greyscale set against splashes of red - very Noir. The artist also did a fine job of using the panels - rotating perspectives, jumping from large to small at the right moments to alarm or underscore. The style worked well with the subject matter. Even though I'm sure I'm missing something, there was certainly enough here to amuse me, this nice little blood soaked Oedipal puzzle box.
When I kenned on the fact this was certainly part of a series, I did a quick wiki of the series, and it honestly looks interesting (which is something given the origin date.) Grendel is apparently the name of a super villain of sorts, and is the protagonist of the story, which seems odd indeed. The creator claimed Grendel was a study of the nature of aggression. This is cool to me, because so often comics (especially superhero comics) ruminate on such bullshit as honor and responsibility. There is nothing wrong with honor and responsibility, certainly, but this seems disingenuous given the fascist hijinks of many superhero comics. It also shows the age of the intended audience, young people for whom responsibility is largely circumscribed. Come talk to me about responsibility when you have a mortgage payment or dependents of any kind before you start jumping around in spandex acting like that has any bearing on reality.
Say, for example, you can see your family members slipping into a cult which will undoubtedly defraud them. Is it your responsibility to step in now before they lose everything? Your responsibility to step in after the fact and pull them from the abyss? What about the fact that they will view any well-meaning help as interference, which, of course, it ultimately is. These questions, you might have guessed, are not that theoretical to me. Mostly I'm resigned to an ugly phone call when their house goes up on auction, at which point I will do everything to help them save it. I will not be thanked for this, and will probably be resented. But I don't think gratitude has any bearing on what needs done, whatever that is. I honestly have no idea.
It's an ugly lesson in the nuances of responsibility, and one that no amount of superpowers and the wingeing about how to use them right can help. It cheers me to see a comic devoted to things like aggression - and some seriously kinky psychosexual stuff - because it feels more grown up to me than the usual. (And not adult in the boobies! ultraviolence! ways that comics sometimes pull to seem "edgy". In those, the adolescent sensibility is still solidly at play, despite the rating.) So, you know, maybe I'll check some other Grendel comics out. I have a cat named Grendel too, as you might have heard.