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Matt Wagner Returns To Grendel In Crossover With The Shadow [NYCC 2013]

Matt Wagner

Matt Wagner’s next journey into the violent and beautiful world of his signature creation, Grendel, will be in the form of a crossover issue with a character almost as close to the cartoonist’s heart: The Shadow. The three-issue prestige format series (48 pages each) will be published by Dynamite Entertainment and finds Wagner’s iconic anti-hero Hunter Rose — a creature of the late 20th century — traveling back in a time to the 1930s, where he will encounter the Shadow in what if nothing else will be an uncommonly well drawn and designed comic book.

To put it extremely simply, the prodigy known as Hunter Rose was a bestselling author by day and the unstoppable Manhattan crime lord Grendel by night. He finally perished at the hands of his nemesis, the werewolf Argent, but his legacy of violence and corruption would live on into the far, far future, shaping world events, politics and religion in the form of new carriers of his fearsome mantle.

Although Wagner created and killed off Hunter Rose in the 1980s alt comics classic Devil by the Deed, he has returned to the Hunter Rose character many times, setting his black, white and red stories between the character’s birth and demise. Some of these include what are doubtlessly among the prettiest anthology comics the American market has seen, not to mention two very popular and highly acclaimed crossovers with Batman.

In a press release announcing the Grendel/Shadow news, Wagner said numerous crossover offers followed the Batman projects, but that none were as “exciting” as Walter Gibson’s supernatural vigilante who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. When it comes to Hunter Rose, that’s a lot of evil.

“I’ve been a huge fan of The Shadow for many, many years and my love of the character finally saw fruition when I got the chance to literally re-define his origins by writing The Shadow: Year One for Dynamite,” said Wagner, referring to his currently in-progress miniseries. “To have the chance to both write and draw The Shadow facing my own creation is something of a dream come true!”

With the very notable exception of Howard Chaykin’s innovative and influential take, which places the character in a distinctly modern context, the Shadow lives in the 1930s world of film noir and pulp fiction. As such, Wagner’s devised a way to send Grendel into the era that obviously influenced his creator. Says the press release, “When an arcane artifact comes into his possession, Grendel finds himself thrust into a world for which he seems destined, where style and violence intersect to form a dazzling golden age.” This wouldn’t be the first time a Grendel has time-travelled. The cyborg Grendel-Prime arrived in Gotham from the far, far future in 1996′s Batman/Grendel II.

The Shadow/Grendel #1 goes on sale in 2014. Hopefully it’s colored in black, white and red.

Matt Wagner’s last Hunter Rose story was a short piece for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s 2011 Liberty Annual. The last long form Grendel story was 2007′s Behold the Devil, which is collected along with Devil by the Deed and the Grendel anthologies (all written by Wagner) in the 600-page Grendel Omnibus: Hunter Rose (available in print or digitally). New readers are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of this volume; it’s some of the coolest and prettiest American comics you will ever read.

The in-progrss Shadow: Year One by Wagner is also available digitally.

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