Review: Grendel vs. The Shadow #3

This is by far the most satisfactory conclusion to a crossover of two characters that I have ever read. For all intents and purposes this is a company crossover pairing two beloved and well-known characters and with that comes the protection that both characters require. Sure Grendel is a villain, but he’s beloved. Matt Wagner makes sure that Grendel fills the role of “heel” very well, but just because he’s the bad guy he doesn’t play fall guy to The Shadow. Speaking of The Shadow, he has felt trimmed down in the series thus far, but he really takes the lead in this issue. It’s interesting because looking back at all three issues there is an interesting format to the story. The first issue was heavy with Grendel, the second issue was balanced between the two and the third issue is heavy with The Shadow. They have ample page time and both are treated with care and respect.

Grendel vs The Shadow #3 11.5.14In the issue it picks up with Grendel infiltrating The Shadows headquarters. It was an awesome scene in the last issue as he picked up his staff that had been taken from him and poised the blade at the back of The Shadow's head. In this issue we see the movements that the Shadow is making while pretending not to know that Grendel is there. He’s still too slow because they’re put in a standoff, one that even the Shadow acknowledges is impressive in his own way. Spoiler, the issue continues from there as Grendel has no intention of ending the game just yet.

Meanwhile the daughter of our mob boss has dressed up as her deceased friend in order to extract some revenge on her abusive and murderous boyfriend. She seduces him to bed, but when she pulls a knife on him he wises up and realizes that his dead girlfriend is in fact not back for one last romantic encounter.

The writing is just masterful and I’m not just talking about our two main characters, it’s all of the characters. The support characters, the one-off goons that say two words and die. Wagner creates a world that feels real and then populates it with characters, no people who are real as well.

The art continues in color this issue which I just love. I love that Wagner incorporated the look of both worlds throughout the series. The opening scene is an incredible page as it almost looks like a stain glass sequence. It also conveys The Shadows clairvoyance visually as we see possible outcomes to the Grendel’s actions. The character I really enjoyed though was the mob boss’ daughter. She was gorgeous in a classic way, but incredibly strong. She’s a fake damsel and looks good playing the role. She was striking both visually and with her personality.

This is a satisfying conclusion to a crossover for sure, but it’s also just a satisfying comic to read. I rushed to read it this week because it was so entertaining, but also because I never knew what Wagner really intended to do with the story and characters. I’m kind of wishing there was more or a second volume already in the works because I think these two worlds work incredibly well, but time will tell and really only The Shadow knows.

Score: 5/5

Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner Colorist: Brennan Wagner Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $5.99 Release Date: 11/5/14 Format: Mini-Series (3 of 3); Print/Digital