cover image Grendel, KY

Grendel, KY

Jeff McComsey and Tommy Lee Edwards. Upshot, $9.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-953165-03-9

This splatter-flick approach to the ancient Viking Beowulf hits all the bloodiest high points, though it skimps on the original’s lyrical beauty. What McComsey (Smedley) calls a “Southern-fried retelling” has been moved to 1971 in the remote town of Grendel, Ky.—which was once coal country and has since turned to marijuana cultivation and smuggling (“ain’t no black lung,” says one character who prefers being a “simple dope farmer”). After a local patriarch is found torn limb from limb, a savage arachnoid creature is discovered haunting the area. An alliance made up of good ol’ boys; the Harlots, an all-female biker gang lead by the anachronistically punk-looking Amazonian Marnie; and the town’s laid-back “pot king,” Denny, decides to take revenge. As in the classic tale, vengeance is initially on the side of the humans, but things go sideways once the monster’s mother gets involved. McComsey moves things along at an almost too-brisk pace, while the hushed palette and layered artwork of Lee Edwards (the Mother Panic series) emphasizes the characters’ brooding, violent natures. In the end, these overly ambitious characters discover just how little safety their modern weaponry provides when facing true monsters. With its bravura set pieces, clenched-jaw dialogue, frequent showdowns, and plentitude of mangled corpses, this drive-in movie version of the English-lit staple will satisfy comics fans across multiple genres. [em](Feb.) [/em]