Matt Wagner's Grendel Tales: Four Devils, One Hell

Grendel Tales Bk. 1: Four Devils, One Hell - James Robinson, Teddy Kristiansen I have to say that initially I had a bit of trouble getting into the story. Wagner's Grendel characters has evolved so much, and in so many ways, that if you come to it in the middle, you feel like you miss a lot. This volume collects a story by another author using Wagner's world and concept. If like me, you enter this world without prior knowledge (I picked up the volume because it seemed interesting), a quick look at the Wikipedia entry for Grendel (the one by Wagner, not the Beowulf one) has a great overview of the story as well as the chronology. I found it helpful. However, the nice thing is that this is a noir tale. Once you get that the Grendels are basically a somewhat loose society of assassins that vaguely follows the path of the original, you are set. In the end, it is a story of private investigator investigating a murder. An art collector seeking a treasure, and a cult leader trying to bring about an apocalypse. Those are basic elements any reader can get into. And this book works very well as a noir tale, which I enjoyed very much. Once you get past the first chapter, the pace picks up. I think I would have gotten it even without looking up additional information, but I am glad I did as I was better able to appreciate it. Wagner has basically created a very expansive storyline, and this is just one chapter. Yet you can enjoy it as a stand alone work. The art here is very good. I personally liked the panel with the gambler at the end of the first chapter. Oh, and for librarians, our P.I. hero even gives a little shout out. Mantovani, the P.I. says, "The rule is. . .when you're in a strange place and you need information--fast and straight, no bullshit-- don't go to the bars and clubs. Go to the library." So, this is a tale that takes a bit of work to get into, but once you do, it does not let go. It made me curious enough to want to read more.