Grendel #12: Devil’s Ends

Argent and Grendel face off one final time, in a violent back-and forth that leaves them both bloodied. Christine strikes the first blow, and Argent retaliates by destroying her weapon. Still, she’s hardly defenseless; she hits him again using a candlestick as a bludgeon–but in her attack, Argent claws at her throat.

Meanwhile, Brian and Gin are racing to Argent’s home.

Christine leaps over Argent’s hover-chair, flipping it and igniting the thruster, burning the Wolf. While he’s recovering, she reaches for her broken blades. She is committed. She is driven. She is Grendel. Argent, blinded, is at a disadvantage. Christine knows this and yet she still clearly wants him to see her killing him. She stabs him with Grendel’s blades, close enough that both of them can squeeze into a narrow comic panel. He lashes out one last time, raking her along the torso.

They both fall.

It’s over, finally. I remember when I first read this, I had nothing but hatred for the Wolf. I wanted Grendel to win. Maybe that speaks volumes about male adolescence–it’s not hard to find examples of young boys who don’t know what to do with the emotions boiling up inside of them. But reading it now, I pity Argent, blinded and desperate to land one final killing blow. For him, Grendel has always represented evil. But in fighting that evil, he let his own aggression get the best of him.

It’s worth considering the possibility that Grendel is, in and of itself, a spirit of the Devil incarnate. While that becomes a figurative interpretation later on, it’s important to remember that this is still a comic book with supernatural tendencies. And if you come in viewing it through that lens, it’s easy to see how the spirit of Grendel could jump from Hunter Rose to his granddaughter, Christine Spar.

What’s even scarier is that it’s also possible that there isn’t a supernatural element at all. Instead, all it took to embody Grendel was an unchecked, unrelenting aggressiveness. The mask and fork made Christine anonymous and dangerous, but it didn’t make her do it. The potential to be a murderer existed within her all along. Even the love of Brian Li Sung wasn’t enough to alter her path.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the actions of Argent and Wiggins were always pulling on Christine, threatening the life she wanted and giving her an outlet for her unchecked rage. How often do we see terrorists and angry mass shooters venting their aggression, blaming others for their radicalization? Replace “Grendel” with any real-world archetype and it’s hard to see Christine as anything other than a tragic anti-hero at best.

She complicated, though.

754883After all, she did stop a terrifying vampire who ran a slaving ring and ate the eyeballs of little children. You gotta give her credit where it’s due, right? But playing hero has consequences, especially when the people who are paid to be the hero–cops, in this case–feel threatened by the figure of Grendel. For good reason–Hunter Rose was notorious for killing anyone who got in his way. He terrorized the city to the point that it took a mythical werewolf to bring him down.

Argent could never escape the specter of Grendel. That was his real curse in the end. He, too, couldn’t control his aggressive obsession, and he was more than willing to do whatever it took to get at Grendel.

In the end, an innocent bystander’s life was changed forever. Violence has long-reaching consequences, and Brian Li Sung will never be the same. Love dragged him into this mess, and he fought for Christine’s soul every step of the way.

But as we’ll soon see, you can’t escape Grendel.

Next: Grendel–The Devil Inside!

Previous: Grendel #11: Devil’s Rampage