Grendel Kentucky #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on September 01, 2020

Writer: Jeff McComsey
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Letters: John Workman

Grendel, Kentucky is the latest series from AWA, which have consistently impressed with the quality of the comics they put out. They may not have the same household recognition as Marvel or DC but they understand that quality is more important than quantity and they’re taking the comic world by storm. This latest series is set in, would you believe it, Grendel, Kentucky. A town run by the weed trade, a death in mysterious circumstances brings Marnie, head of female biker gang The Harlots, back to town. This first issue is primarily about setting the scene for the story, introducing us to our main characters, and letting us know there is some kind of monster haunting Grendel. As first issues go it’s filled with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, and brings to mind an all female version of Sons of Anarchy. Throw in a supernatural element and all the pieces are there for an intriguing comic, the only problem is it feels like we’re only just getting into the meat of the story when it comes to an abrupt end.

Debut issues are tough. They need to introduce the reader to the world and its characters, have enough incentives there to keep them coming back for another issue, but also not overwhelm the reader with needless exposition. With this first issue Jeff McComsey manages to get the balance right here, there’s enough intrigue to make the reader return next month without being overwhelming. It just feels a shame that the story doesn't get the opportunity to develope to much with this first issue. But we're in a good place for the series to hit the ground running with the next issue.

One of the first things which hit you in the face with this comic is what an audible comic this is. On the first page alone we have duck tape being peeled, knives sheaved, guns loaded, zippers zipped, and thanks to the oversized SFX lettering the reader can hear each sound in a way that contrasts with most comics silence. One of the area’s where comics don’t hold up as a medium is in the sound, think of the last time you watched a film or TV series, the background sound, ambient music, all of that is as important to the medium as anything else going on. But comics generally don’t have that. It feels like one of the things which McComsey set out to do with this comic was make it loud, and he succeeds admirably. It’s a relatively small detail but it sets it apart from other comics and gives it a bit more presence than it might otherwise have had.

Tommy Lee Edwards is an inspired choice for artist on this comic. His art style with its heavy use of lines manages to really evoke the town of Grendel and bring it to life. It successfully evokes the time period its set and gives it its own unique identity. The violence when it arrives feels raw and brutal, as well as loud. The reader can hear tables being knocked over, bottles being smashed, every punch and headbutt. It brings it to life in extra detail.

John Workman also deserves a mention here. Unfortunately letterers don’t often get mentioned in reviews. The reasons for this are many and a debate for another time, but Workman deserves to get a little recognition here for the incredible job he does, especially when it comes to the SFX. This reviewed mentioned what an audible journey this comic is, and so much of that comes down to the way he’s done the SFX. It adds an extra layer to the comic. Then there’s the speech bubbles themselves, square as opposed to round, it just adds to the unique feel of this comic.

An intriguing debut issue, while still early days for the mini-series there are enough hooks to keep readers coming back for the next issue. The comic has a unique, audible feel to it, and this extra layer is a nice touch and will leave the reader wondering why more comics don’t make use of the SFX. The writing is evocative of Sons of Anarchy, and the art style is perfectly suited to bringing Grendel to life. Another exciting debut issue from AWA.

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