In many unexpected ways, the final issue of Jeff McComsey and Tommy Lee Edwards’ Grendel, Kentucky returns to the relatively slower and more contemplative pace of the first issue. That’s not to say there isn’t still a daring showdown with the beast that’s been plaguing the town, but there’s something significantly more low-key and chilling about this issue. Compared to the bonkers chase sequence from last issue and the horrific attack in the second issue, this finale feels much more intimate in many ways.
Yet again, there are some wonderful moments when all of the dialogue disappears and the imagery does the talking. Marnie’s literally muted reaction upon finding the horrific scene from the end of the last issue tells readers everything they need to know about where her head is at. The fact that it’s punctuated by the sheriff losing his lunch is the perfect cap to an eerily silent sequence.
Tommy Lee Edwards gives characters the most interesting facial expressions, hiding everything from one another but telling the reader so much. Marnie’s conversation with her grandfather is a particularly interesting scene, because she seems so bemused by what she’s being told, but the reader knows there’s a fire in her that won’t be put out until the monster has been killed.
The final confrontation is visually impressive, showing us a bit of what the monster is like at home. The issue also brings back the interesting convention of Marnie looking at her flashbacks, allowing us to make the connection between her present day self and the lost kid she once was.
It does feel like a few moments toward the end are rushed a bit. The conversation surrounding Marnie’s backstory — which I won’t spoil here — is the perfect example of how to tell an interesting story without over-explaining everything. However, the spot where this doesn’t quite work for me is in how abruptly the issue ends. I feel like I understand what McComsey and Edwards are saying with that final panel, but it’s not exactly a satisfying conclusion after getting to know this character as well as we have — and again, this is not a spoiler, even if it sounds like one.
While the final page may not quite have landed for me, I do appreciate that Grendel, Kentucky concluded similarly to its quieter first chapter. The miniseries as a whole has told a unique tale about the cycle of violence and the incredible power of familial obligation, even in the face of countless lies. This series has been an interesting read, and I’m excited to revisit it in trade format.
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