Calling “Grifter” a superhero comic is, I think, a slight misnomer. “Grifter” is the sort of comic that looks to be aiming itself at a very specific genre, and that genre is action/thriller. And as such, it should probably be judged on a slightly different scale.
While I knew better than to hope for another “Who is Jake Ellis?” from him, Nathan Edmondson is turning out a satisfying comic script for “Grifter.” By writing a story about a character who’s being pursued by monsters with human faces, he’s created a “nowhere and no one is safe” situation for Grifter, which is just the sort of thing you need for a thriller. Grifter can never rest, never sit on his laurels, because at any moment another creature could show up and attack.
That’s especially clear in “Grifter” #2, as he tries to get one of the few people he trusts onto his side, only to promptly get attacked. You can see the attack coming a mile away, but it’s still exciting in part because of the sudden nature of the strike; Edmondson has let his bad guys zoom right in on Grifter, and it keeps both him and us from getting complacent. The fight itself is good, too, with just the right level of inventiveness to keep it from becoming just another punch-in-the-face story.
It’s also nice to see, right on cue, the idea that Grifter is not the only person who knows about the Daemonites. The scene at the Pentagon went a long way toward reassuring me that we aren’t going to get dozens upon dozens of issues of, “No one but me knows the truth!” The idea of that alone is a little tiresome, and it’s good that Edmondson has made sure to reassure us that he’s not heading in that direction.
CAFU’s pencils are, as always, top notch. His work with inker Jason Gorder looks good here; there’s an attractiveness to all of his characters, but never crazy model gorgeousness. And he’s great when it comes to mapping out movement across the page, too; Gretchen’s encounter in the Amtrak station might be a slight mystery as to why she’s making the swap, but you can certainly tell what she’s doing from start to finish. And when we get a shoot-out on the highway, well, CAFU lays those pages out like it’s a high-octane scene in a film; you can practically hear the tires squeal and the glass shatter. CAFU is one of the great new talents to surface in comics recently, and getting a regular dose of his art is always a joy.
“Grifter” is a fun little thriller; it’s not high art or deep thinking, but it’s not trying to be. It is, however, entertaining and a good ride so far. If Edmondson and CAFU can keep up the adrenaline levels, that will do me just fine. I’m ready to hit the ground running for “Grifter” #3.