Wednesday, May 16, 2007

GRIMJACK - KILLER INSTINCT by Ostrander/Truman

GRIMJACK - KILLER INSTINCT collects the 6-issue miniseries from 2005 featuring the return of the creators of the character, John Ostrander and Tim Truman, back with his first new adventure since the demise of First Comics in 1991.



I'm fairly familiar with the original series, having most of Truman's original run and scattered issues after that (I never did feel any of the later artists worked out quite as well as Truman, although I thought Tom Mandrake did okay). From what I could piece together, the story seemed to get pretty convoluted in the second half of the original series, with clones, time travel, re-incarnation and who knows what else. So it's probably for the best that for this return they've opted to go back in time and tell a story from some years before the original series, which explores some backstory that had been mentioned before, including the origin of Grimjack's ownership of Munden's Bar.

The book opens with the end of the Dancer Rebellion, at a time when John Gaunt / Grimjack is a member of the Trans-Dimensional Police in the multi-dimensional city of Cynosure, partnered up with Roscoe. Following the requisite bloodshed, we find out how Grimjack got from there to a member of the secret police Cadre, then jumps to his final mission for them, which forms the rest of this book.

Truman's art is excellent as always. Still very much in the style of the original work, but he's gotten much more polished and detailed in the two decades since. The whole "multi-dimensional" thing is obviously a convenient excuse for him to draw whatever interests him, so there's always a great mix of sci-fi, fantasy, historical and modern elements.

Ostrander gets back into the old rhythm as well. It's the old mix of pulp adventure in a fantastic setting. I'm not sure how it'll read to someone not familiar with the original series, but it seems that enough of the backstory is given early on to get people up to speed, and for the most part this story doesn't depend on the earlier stuff. He's also free to put in a lot more adult elements now, in terms of language, sex and violence, and he seems quite happy to use this new liberty. It's a nicely dense story compared to a lot of modern comics, with some interesting concepts open to explore, and a lot of surprises while still feeling comfortably familiar to those who read the original series.

Ostrander and Truman are apparently still at work on the next chapter in the Grimjack saga, whatever form that will take. I look forward to it.

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