“Born on a Monday” kicks off a seven-issue “Solomon Grundy” romp through the swamp courtesy of Scott Kolins. I previously reviewed the “Faces of Evil” one-shot and labeled it as a zero issue for the impending limited (or are they “mini”s this week?) series. This issue takes the next logical steps from the “Faces of Evil” issue and throws in a five-page “origin” tale related by every DC fan’s fourth-wall violator – the Phantom Stranger.
The story sees the Stranger task Alan Scott with protecting Cyrus Gold — Grundy’s original name and one of various incarnations. Stranger also warns of the “approaching Blackest Night.” Hmm. Seven-issue series featuring an undead man-monster, warning of “Blackest Night” and a Green Lantern? Some snazzy tie-in work by Kolins and editor Adam Schlagman to be sure, but only time (and the rest of this series) will tell if those were simply red herrings or truly portents of doom.
Kolins puts Grundy/Gold on a path of self-reclamation. He must find his killer, the weapon, and issue forgiveness before the Blackest Night. Problem is, Grundy needs to be less monster and more man to actually accomplish this. Kolins quickly finds a way to get past the “problem” of having Alan Scott guard Grundy, kill Grundy, and bring out the monster feared by all, at the expense of two Slaughter Swamp alligators. Alligators in a swamp outside Gotham, which is somewhere in the Jersey/New York area? Really? I guess they can be dismissed as New York City sewer gators, but it stuck in my craw longer than it should I suppose.
Kolins finds a way to weave in disparate parts from across the DC Universe, as this issue sees Grundy encounter the Phantom Stranger, Etrigan, and Alan Scott. Next issue promises a dust-up with Bizarro. Yes. Etrigan should still be in Hell, Bizarro is in space, but this is comics and maybe some suspension of disbelief needs to happen. I let go of the alligator thing, you can let go of continuity for a minute or two.
Truly a minute or two is not long enough. It is evident that Kolins cares a great deal for the character of Grundy, as this series is not only giving Grundy some stomping room, but also padding his origin and back story substantially.
Kolins art is as solid as ever, gritty and murky, but smartly paced and using good camera angles. The colors, in this issue furnished by Michael Atiyeh, are a step up from the predecessor one-shot, but the lettering gets in its own way as Kolins uses a substantial amount of off-screen narration. Each of the characters lending narration has a distinct “voice,” but all of the voices chiming in and switching in and out create a visual cacophony that sometimes takes a little while to filter through in some spots.
If the issue titling follows the nursery rhyme, Grundy will be going to school in the next issue. I’ll be interested to see how Kolins translates that into a scrum with Bizarro. In all, this issue is a journey on a path that hasn’t been trod much, I presume the rest of the series will follow suit, with Kolins adding in his favorite pieces.