DC Comics’ The New 52 rolls on in its second week! I’ll be reviewing all 52 #1 issues released this month, and you can find all of the reviews on the Comic Book Reviews index page. This week we get 13 more new series, including the first DC Universe book featuring a WildC.A.T.S. character: Grifter! Although I’ve never read a comic featuring him, I know who Grifter is as I religiously watched the short-lived 90’s Wild C.A.T.S. cartoon. In fact, I still start humming the theme song to that cartoon today. So even if I hadn’t committed to ordering all 52 of The New 52, I’d have bought this book anyway. As far as ordering another issue after reading this, well…
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible.
I’m in love with whoever at DC Comics decided to fold the Wildstorm characters into the proper DC Universe. Grifter is probably the best-loved members of the WildC.A.T.S., and I’m glad he and Voodoo are getting solo books until we can eventually get a DC Universe WildC.A.T.S.
The artwork is a bit gritty and a good fit for the darker feel and atmosphere of this book, and I have hope that the seeming alien infiltration of the DC Universe (presumably by a rebooted Daemonites race) could have far-reaching story consequences across The New 52. This book feels like it has the potential to be important in the DCnU, which is certainly an asset as it may keep readers buying so they don’t miss an integral story-beat.
The writer, Nathan Edmondson, chose to use the tried-and-true storytelling convention of throwing us straight into the action and then utilizing flashbacks to try to explain what’s happened, but the way this book was put together is sort of a mess and left me bewildered on my first read-through. The writing in general feels very amateurish to me, which makes sense as I looked up Nathan Edmondson and see he’s only been writing comics for two years and this is his first ongoing series ever. I fear that an untested, unseasoned writer like Edmondson was not the right choice to helm a book featuring one of the least-known characters getting a book in The New 52.
We spend very little time getting to know Cole Cash, as he’s having a bit of a breakdown the majority of the issue from the alien voices he’s hearing in his head. We’re told that he’s an accomplished conman (hence the name Grifter), but this is only demonstrated to us in terms of a groan-worthy, hackneyed “briefcase switch” scene that’s actually been written so opaquely that I was confused about what had happened and who had conned whom. I didn’t get any real feeling for Cole’s voi or motivations, if he’s a good or bad person, or really anything at all about him. He certainly didn’t feel cool like he did in the 90’s WildC.A.T.S. cartoon, though.
In addition, I don’t like the costume design we see for Grifter on the cover at all. We need to get him into something more Jim Lee-inspired as quickly as possible, because that costume design does not look good.
Overall: I really, really want to rate this book higher out of my fondness for the character, but I can’t. Grifter #1 is all over the place in terms of pacing and storytelling. I had a difficult time telling what was going on exactly in this issue, and little sense of what Grifter’s character and voice are. I’m intrigued for certain, and I absolutely love the idea of the Wildstorm characters being folded into the DC Universe, but this issue was just not a good start. I came into this comic with a preexisting love for the title character, and left with less interest in him than when I began–as I said over in my Legion Lost #1 review, that’s the mark of a failed book. I want this book to rebound and succeed, but I’m totally unconvinced that Edmondson was the correct choice to write this book.