Grendel #2: Devil Head Raises

So Christine Spar decides to go after Tujiro the Kabuki dancer/child abductor. To do it, she follows the Kabuki show to San Francisco. The timing feels a little weird, given that the police in New York are still ostensibly looking for her missing son … but Christine has come to terms with the truth: her son is dead. And she blames Tujiro.

To get closer to her prey, Christine first infiltrates the Kabuki show, befriending a stagehand named Brian Li Sung. Then, after attending a show–and finding herself again entranced by Tujiro’s performance–Christine follows him to his hotel. In her journal notes, she’s overly confident. All this feels “easy” much in the same way Hunter Rose found many of his exploits easy, but in Christine’s case she doesn’t have the experience to back it up.

At the end of the issue, she breaks into Tujiro’s hotel and discovers a horrible secret: a briefcase full of eyeballs, preserved in vials. And then, before she has time to even process this new horror: Tujiro appears in the doorway.

Christine’s right to feel confident: she puts together a pretty good cover story, knowing full-well that the police will suspect her of stealing the Grendel costume. But she’s overlooked the same thing that Hunter Rose overlooked: Argent. The crippled Wolf, listening in on a phone conversation between Christine and a friend, doesn’t fall for the ruse. He knows she’s Grendel. It’s already beginning to gnaw at him. Every drawing of him oozes a hidden weakness. He’s hunched over. His face looked old and worn. He wears a blue bathrobe in the presence of company and lets his pet cat rest on his shoulder. He needs to hunt Grendel because it’s the only thing he has left.

Brian Li Sung is going to play a huge role in future comics. For now, he stands out as a simple, pretty innocent backstage manager who loves his floating cell phone. Christine uses him, but it’s obvious even early on that she’s attracted to him, too. Or is she just fooling herself? Deceit fits her pretty well: she lies to her friend while the police listen in, lies to Brian Li Sung when she infiltrates the theatre, and in the process maybe even lies to herself about how easy it is to hunt down Tujiro’s people.

The Dark Horse reprint

In a way, Tujiro deceives, too. In his Kabuki performance, he forces the audience to see something else … something far different from the man hiding behind the costume.

Following the design of the Hunter Rose stories, Christine’s comics are filled with journal notes–clearly typed, not handwritten, given the lettering style of the boxes. Christine writes in a crisp, sometimes reflective prose. Short, clipped sentences. Occasionally, she’ll make notes and remark on something that just happened or is just about to happen, indicating that she can occasionally write entries on the go. This comes in handy because a significant section of this story is a mystery.

The coloring in this series stands out. Tom Vincent does an outstanding job making everything pop, especially Tujiro during his Kabuki performances. Little stuff, too, adds depth to the story: the view from behind Christine’s binoculars, the Grendel costume, the color of Argent’s skin/fur, and especially the posh hotel room of Tujiro.

Want to know more about coloring? Tom Vincent offered his thoughts on a newgroup many moons ago. It’s a pretty unfiltered opinion!

Kabuki: Start here to get some general understanding. If you’re interested in learning more, try this link to a much more detailed site. Try “The Dark Side of Kabuki” or “Kabuki on Youtube” and definitely the “Sogamono” links.

Next: Grendel #3: Devil’s Lash!

Previous: Grendel #1: Devil in Response