Grendel #20: The Devil Is …

… Paranoiac.

You didn’t really think Wiggins was going to get away from the Devil, did you? He made it a long time, which is more than can be said about most people who are caught in the web of Grendel. In fact, one could say Wiggins lived a full, rich life.

In this case, “Rich” because Wiggins shared Grendel with the world.

When issue 20 picks up, Wiggins is signing books. His stories about Grendel are so popular that he can afford a mansion and all the good things in life. Everyone loves his books so much that Grendel starts popping up everywhere: on pins, in newspapers, and even … a movie deal!

There’s just one problem: Wiggins doesn’t want to sell the movie rights. He’s overwhelmed by what he’s done. He knows his stories have breathed new life into Grendel, and the idea of making a movie about it … that’s just too much. What’s worse, his electronic eye seems to be malfunctioning. For the first time, the reader gets to see what he sees–both through his good eye and his electronic eye–and the results are terrifying. People become grotesque creatures, bathed in the red of his electronic eye. Even their dialogue changes, violent and greedy and deceiving.

His agent is a disgusting, greedy pig. The movie producers are vicious liars. His wife hates him and rains insults on him. Everyone he passes on the street is a monstrous charicature. He’s losing control, can’t tell what’s real and what’s a lie (ironic given his implant!), and the last straw is when his wife finds out he won’t sell the movie rights. She berates Wiggins, and in a rash of anger he stabs her in the eye with a knife.

When the police arrived, Wiggins is dead of a heart attack.

The Legacy: This is the first in a four-part arc that covers a span of hundreds of years as society breaks down and the Grendel mythos takes hold. In this first issue, we see how Grendel reappeared in the public sphere: Wiggins’ stories about the original Hunter Rose, which of course spurred the re-release of Christine Spar’s diaries. Wiggins understood what he’d done and it haunted him and corrupted him. He tried his best to prevent a Grendel movie from happening, but as we’ll see in the next issue … the Devil isn’t so easily destroyed.

The Narrator: Probably the Devil? If we read it like that, then the Devil has clearly been with Wiggins for a long time. If we read it as his conscience, then it’s obvious he knows exactly how much he fucked up.

The Dialogue … Is stilted. Incomplete. Fragmented. Intentionally so, too. The star of these stories is the narrator, and so the way to read it is to imagine the narrator’s voice overwhelming most of the dialogue happening in the comic, leaving your ears with only fragments of what’s happening. But it’s enough to get the gist of it, and your imagination fills in the rest. So when Wiggins’ agent says “Plans … excited … girls … girls … money money money money money!” You pretty much understand exactly what’s happening.

Hints of Poe: The thumping that’s either police at Wiggins’ door or his dying heart is a callback to The Telltale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe. You can read it for free here.

Next: The Devil gets a movie!

Previous: Grendel #18-19: Devil Eyes