Grimjack: The Manx Cat #1 (IDW)

gjmanxcat_header.jpgJohn Ostrander and Tim Truman’s swashbuckling hero ("the guy you hire when you need an asshole on your side") returns in an all-new miniseries.

 

28 pgs., color; $3.99
(W : John Ostrander; A: Timothy Truman)
The theme for this week seems to be “revival”: first Starstruck, and now Grimjack is back in action. In case you’re not up on your comics history, Grimjack is a character in the First Comics series of the same name created by John Ostrander and Timothy Truman which ran for 81 issues from 1984 to 1991. They’ve been re-issued by IDW (First Comics went bankrupt) as a trade paperback series with the title The Legend of Grimjack, but there’s also The Manx Cat,a new Grimjack series by Ostrander and Truman which was first created online and is now being reissued by IDW in the paper and ink.
Got that? I’ve seen only issue #1 in hard copy (and I’m coming to it as a Grimjack virgin) but the series looks like a lot of fun. Grimjack is the nickname of John Gaunt, who introduces himself as “the guy you hire when you need an asshole on your side.” He’s in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure (cynosure: something which attracts attention or serves as a guide, for those of you prepping for your SATs), a corrupt dystopia where humans and aliens coexist and magic works in some places, technology in others, but swords work everywhere. He’s been hired to recover (or perhaps steal) the Manx Cat. The parallels with The Maltese Falcon are many: Grimjack even refers to the Cat as a “dingus” and delivers said object to a dealer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Sidney Greenstreet.
The fun comes from the wisecracks and cultural allusions and absolute lack of inhibition about mixing genres. There’s karate, spacecraft, animal rescue (aaawwww), crosses and double-crosses, scantily-clad babes, pirate-inflected costumes and a variety of life forms, all of which can communicate with each other. Sometimes I find this kind of eclecticism annoying, but in Grimjack the mash up is so assured I never questioned it. It also helps that this is a somewhat self-aware series (basically, an action movie in comics form) which, like its hero, doesn’t take itself too seriously. The story moves fast, with lots of action: Grimjack spent his childhood as an arena fighter, so you can be sure he’s equal to any physical conflict.
Timothy Truman’s art is always a treat: in Grimjack he creates a dark, steam-punk universe with the magical and sci-fi additions noted above, and he sure knows how to make an action story come alive on the page. I also enjoy the amount of detail he puts into the frames, and the flow from frame to frame is great. You can check out more of his art at http://www.ttruman.com/ and read Grimjack online at http://grimjack.com/. And before I get pelted with emails, IDW web site has the name as both “Grimjack” and “GrimJack” while comicmix.com has it as “GrimJack” and the lettering on the comic’s cover looks more like “grim JACK” so I just went with the first option. | Sarah Boslaugh

 

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