For their second Four-Color Flashback installment discussing Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Paul and Arlo jump into the first half of the first proper story arc, “Devil’s Legacy” chapters 1-7, collected in Grendel Omnibus: Vol. 2 – The Legacy, pp. 66-246. (This thing’s had a convoluted publishing history.) Anyways, as the boys discover, there’s been a radical shift from the series’ introductory story. Gone is Wagner’s Art Deco-cum-manga art style, replaced by the vibrant, angular artwork of Jacob and Arnold Pander; the storyline has also moved into the “near future” circa 1986, which thanks to some clever math, Paul figures out is probably somewhere around 2005. Most importantly, Grendel’s mask is now worn by Hunter Rose’s step-granddaughter, journalist Christine Spar, who is spurred into action by personal tragedy. Do these stylistic shifts work? Is Wagner’s overblown dialogue a noir-ish affectation or merely self-indulgent? Remember when Donahue was a thing? All this and more, plus Paul and Arlo are shocked by the passing of Prince.
Next: so shocked, in fact, that our next episode is devoted to him. The boys will discuss Prince’s music, as well as three of his films: 1984’s Purple Rain, 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon, and 1987’s concert film Sign ‘o’ the Times.