In the latest of our comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' 52 relaunched titles, we take a look at Grifter #1.
Who's it by? Grifter #1 is written by Nathan Edmondson (Who is Jake Ellis?) and drawn by CAFU (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents).
What's the history? Grifter was created by DC co-publisher Jim Lee as part of the WildStorm Universe in WildC.A.T.S #1 in 1992. The team of superhumans was formed to aid the alien race called the Kherubim in the war against their enemies the Daemonites.
Cole Cash was the loner and hardman of the group, a hand-to-hand combat and weapons expert and the only man ever to be trained in the ways of the all-female warriors called the Coda. Formerly a government operative in the group Team 7, Grifter possessed rarely-used psychic powers due to his exposure to the substance known as Gen-Factor.
What's new? Grifter has now been integrated into the DC Universe (alongside Voodoo and some of the members of Stormwatch), marking one of the more obvious changes to come out in the reboot.
This is a complete reboot of the character. Cash is reimagined as a literal grifter, a former military man turned con-artist. Escaping an attempted possession by the alien Daemonites, Grifter is now able to hear their voices in his head and promises revenge.
What happens? Grifter jumps into the middle of the action. Cash is on a plane, plagued by the voices of the Daemonite-possessed people who intend to kill him.
Stepping back in time, we are introduced to Grifter as he pulls off another con and is kidnapped by the Daemonites. Escaping them, he learns that he has lost an uncertain amount of time while in the clutches of the aliens.
Surviving a hurried exit from the plane, Grifter swears vengeance for what has been done to him, while the US government decide he is too much of a liability to live.
What's the verdict? Grifter is a mess of an introduction, which fails to adequately establish any of the characters or plot that might draw back readers to this newly re-imagined character.
Cole Cash is never quite fleshed out as a character. We know that he is a con-man, and there is one brief mention of his military career. His internal monologue focuses on his confusion and fear, but fails to offer any insight into his personality, which makes it more difficult to care about the title character.
The threat is equally under-established. The Daemonites (a name we only know from the WildStorm Universe) are represented merely as blue things that have possessed people. Nothing more is revealed about them and too little is known to make them intriguing.
The voices Grifter hears in his head speak largely in repetitious and unimaginative threats, rather than anything that makes the reader interested in their intentions. The fact that the enemy is more often heard than seen also detracts any potential feeling of danger.
There is a pleasing crispness to CAFU's artwork in Grifter #1, but this is sometimes ruined by sloppy and lazy work, particularly with people drawn and at a distance, where fingers, features and whole hands have a tendency to disappear.
The first issue is conspicuously missing Cash in his Grifter persona, and the final panel, which features his signature (and always a bit silly looking) mask feels shoehorned in out of nowhere.
For a debut issue of a rebooted property, Grifter #1 needed to be more punchy. Older readers will be unsure what of the original concept remains in the DC Universe and new readers will be left confused and disinterested. This is sloppy storytelling and a missed opportunity for an over-the-top, exciting comic.