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Grifter #4 – Review

By: Nathan Edmondson (writer), Scott Clark (penciller), Dave Beaty (inker), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist)

The Story: Who knew that arrows-versus-guns isn’t a completely one-sided draw?

The Review: Action can be a tricky thing in comics.  While you can cobble together an entire movie composed of mostly gunshots, car chases, explosions, and kung-fu, with just enough of a plot to hold it all together, this strategy doesn’t quite work in a comic book, probably because even the most dynamic two-page splash in the world can’t quite compare to even the most budgeted stunt and special-effects sequence on the big screen.

So while I’ve made comparisons between this series and The Bourne Identity, that’s not to say you’ll enjoy following Grifter’s chaos nearly as much as you do Jason Bourne.  True, the action on this title sure makes for a wild ride—literally.  At one point, Grifter breaks into a car, ties his belt to the steering wheel, shatters the front window, turns on cruise control, and climbs onto the hood, firing his pistol as he yanks on his belt to maneuver the vehicle through traffic.  It doesn’t get much more intense than that, frankly.

And yet it does, when you add Green Arrow to the mix.  G.A. has always been a bit of a goofy character, with the whole Robin Hood shtick, but in the new DCU, he has a modern edginess to him that, quite honestly, makes him feel more like DC’s Hawkeye than ever.  Setting that aside, you can’t deny his extreme competence in this new iteration.  I don’t know how he gets on in his solo title, but here he can dole out the special moves with the best of ‘em: slapping aside Cole’s gun from point blank and sticking an electric arrow in the muzzle in two panels.

Just like Kyle Rayner’s guest appearance in Voodoo, Green Arrow makes a sensible choice for Grifter’s first encounter with a blue-blooded DC hero.  As the owner of Q-Core, a company devoted to advanced technology geared toward military applications, Oliver is a sensible target for the infiltrating Daemonites.  Technically, you don’t know exactly what they’re infiltrating for, but a weapons research corporation can come in handy in all kinds of situations.

The point is in spite of all the crazy shenanigans Cole has gotten up to, we still only have the barest understanding of what’s going on, and that’s mostly due to Edmondson’s maneuvering.  After all, the imposing colonel in the background of all this clearly holds a wealth of information about both Cole and the Daemonites that would be useful to us, but Edmondson ensures only the vaguest bits get to us: “…I sent a man to the guillotine…because you withheld information!”

Hopefully, the introduction of unexpected ally Sofia Cordón, Q-Core employee and seemingly in the know about Cole’s troubles, will clear some mysteries up as we reach the point where the Daemonites, U.S. military, Green Arrow, and Grifter intersect.

When I saw that inhuman turning of Adien’s head on the opening page, I had a bad feeling about Clark’s artistry.  But as the story went on, that feeling slowly faded.  Clark applies a thin line-work and realistic detail that transitions well from Cafu’s style of art.  Clark goes for a less angular look, which helps the women seem more feminine, but his art is sharp enough to keep the men looking rugged and the action dynamic.  Aside from a weird misty effect when Cole drives out of a car wash, Dalhouse’s coloring is as competent on Clark’s figures as Cafu’s.

Conclusion: It’s a thrill to read, but only a passing one.  Edmondson needs to shore up this title with more substance before it can break out from the middling rut it’s in now.

Grade: B-

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - Hmm…  Wonder if Green Arrow’s mishearing of Daemonite as “Demon-Knight” will have any connection to the motley crew of medieval heroes Paul Cornell is writing now.

- I don’t know about you, but I rather like that women on motorcycles is becoming a thing.

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