Following the bloody massacre of the previous issue, it’s time for Denny and Marnie to get some answers in Grendel, Kentucky #3. Pap has a lot of explaining to do.
Right off the bat, this issue has a different feel from the first two, in a good way. The first issue was full of quiet moments and uncomfortable reunions, with the supernatural elements hiding along the fringes. The second issue dove further into what’s going on in the town of Grendel, culminating in a thrilling encounter with a monster. This issue goes full-tilt paranormal, serving up a flashback to Pap’s Faustian bargain and a showdown with the creature that’s been killing the people of Grendel.
Jeff McComsey’s script for this issue is more focused on action in its second half, but it also builds upon the character development seen in the first couple of issues. There are some really nice moments here, showing how much these people really care about each other, even when they’re faced with the reality that there are too many deadly secrets between them.
Tommy Lee Edwards furthers this excellent characterization with some memorable posing and body language for different characters. One of the most notable sequences featuring this is when Pap addresses everyone at the beginning of the issue. Some people seem clearly agitated, while others are unsure, standing with their arms folded or their ankles tweaked out. Everyone is anxious to hear what he has to say, and clearly express that in different ways.
When it comes to the massive battle that dominates a good chunk of the issue, McComsey and Edwards do not disappoint. The ensuing conflict is chaotic and messy, but still easy enough to follow. There are a few moments that feel kind of muddy, but that also feels by design. This is a scrambling struggle for survival on both sides. The seriousness is sold even further by more interesting posing for the characters. The creature, usually seen towering over everything, almost looks like it’s trying to make itself smaller as it lopes away. Meanwhile, it seems important to note that while everyone has various levels of excitement and rage during the fight, Marnie remains stone-faced and focused. She finds no joy in this fight.
The relatively slow pace of the first few issues really paid off, because readers have a strong grasp of these characters by now. Jeff McComsey’s script puts some rustic dialogue in the mouths of the characters, but it never feels inauthentic. There’s a sense of familiarity and unease in every line of dialogue, just as Edwards injects the same feelings into each little glance.
The ending of this issue genuinely surprised me, but the plot of the miniseries seems to be skewing ever closer to the classic poem of Beowulf. With one more issue to go, I’m anxious to see just how many cues McComsey and Edwards borrow from the original epic tale.
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