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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
also known as "Silverback" and "the Wolf",
who worked to stop the villainy of Grendel
Argent is a 300-year-old Native Amerian shaman best known as the arch-enemy of Matt Wagner's popular independent comic book anti-hero "Grendel." Argent was the chief nemesis of both "Hunter Rose" and Christine Spar, the first and second characters that operated as "Grendel." Although Grendel was the titular character of the various comic book series bearing his name, he (and later she) was actually a villain. Argent worked independently and with police in his efforts to bring Grendel's spree of murder and criminal meyhem to an end.
Argent clearly was a person with flaws and shortcomings, but he was the more "heroic" character in this matching, despite the fact that he was cast in the role of the antagonist of the title character. It has been said at times that Argent is clearly the protagonist of these stories, and that Grendel is the villain. This may be the case, but Grendel is certainly the principle character.
"Argent", by the way, means: "of lustrous grey; covered with or tinged with the color of silver; silvery hair." This is clearly a descriptive name that the character acquired after his lycanthropic transformation.
Because Argent had super-powers (he had been transformed into a man-wolf, or a werewolf), and because he fought on the side of law and justice, he might be classified as a "super-hero." But he is not a super-hero in the traditional, colorfully-costumed sense of the word. Also, Argent's methods for going after Grendel were often extreme. Argent would unhesitantly torture or kill criminals if doing so would help in his goal.
Argent was introduced as Grendel's arch-enemy in the very first Grendels story. Argent has remained an important part of the Grendel mythos in most incarnations, although his role is, of course, not nearly as prominent as that of Grendel himself. Grendel is in one of America's longest-running and most widely-known independent comic book characters. The character was created by writer/artist Matt Wagner and first appeared in 1982 in the anthology Comico Primer. Grendel's comics were published by Comico for many years before Wagner moved the character to another publisher, Dark Horse (one of the largest "independent" publishers in the industry).
Grendel was originally a Native American shaman and retains at least some traditional beliefs from the Native American religion of his upbringing. He believes in magic, which is not surprising, given the fact that his own wolf form is a result of magic. It is not clear whether or not Argent continued to practice any Native American religious rituals into the present day. Possibly he does not active practice any rituals. In "Devil Dreams", a self-described wizard invites Argent to participate in a magical ceremony designed to help Argent find Grendel. The ceremony culminates in the smoking of a hallucinogenic substance using what appears to be a bong. The ritual is similar to Native American rituals using a Peace Pipe, and the narration describing Argent's use of the pipe notes that this is a "ritual he hasn't performed for centuries."
From: "Devil Dreams", written by Matt Wagner with art by Kelley Jones; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); pages 75-78:
[Argent is with Arbogast Hockley, a self-described wizard of questionable ability. Hockley has been preparing a magical spell that he claims will help Argent find Grendel by allowing him to smell and home in on Grendel's scene whereever he his, regardless of the distance.]
Arbogast Hockley: Okay, man. It's done. But it needs a flame to finalize the process. So . . . Toke up, man!
Argent: You . . . You realize the cost of any mistakes, should this fail to produce the desired results . . . You will pay the price.
Arbogast Hockley: It's cool, man! It'll work. I made a virility draught once, and it worked like a [expletive] dream! Man . . . What a weekend that was!
[Arbogast Hockley lights the bong-like apparatus in which he has poured his magic potion. He lights some type of self-rolled cigarette and begins smoking it, while handing the potion, which also resembles a Native American "Peace Pipe", to Argent.]
Narration: The sour stench invades his nostrils. A ritual he hasn't performed for centuries.
Argent: Hack! Hack! Hack! Hack!
Arbogast Hockley: Did . . . Did it work, man? What do you smell?
Argent: Hack! Hack! II smell nothing! Only smoke - Hack! Hack! - Only vile vapor . . . but . . . I . . . I see . . .
Narration: A vidion of hope.
[Argent is hallucinating. He sees himself standing across a stream from a small Native American village. Canoes are in the water. Wigwams are on the land and Argent's fellow tribespeople walk around peacefully.]
Argent: It . . . It is the village! As it was so very many moons past . . . Is this a dream?! Have I, at last, come home?!
Narration: Denied. [The word "denied" is added to the narration sentence two panels previous, forming the thought, "A vision of hope denied."]
Maslun, the wolf god (or wolf demon): You have no home, wretched beast!
[The giant head of Maslun appears in the sky before Argent, blocking out everything else in the vision. Maslun appears to be a powerful wolf god from the Native American religious beliefs of Argent's people.]
Maslun / wolf god: You are an outcast, dream-picker! A pariah, shunned by all! Now and forevermore!
Argent: Maslun! Shadow-Wolf! Death-Spirit! Why . . . Why must you torment me so?!
Maslun / wolf god: I merely granted what you desired.
Argent: I-I never desired this fate! [i.e., to be transformed into a monstrous man-wolf.]
Maslun / wolf god: What other course did you expect?! You invited my presence, knave! Your own passions are what fueled this curse!
Argent: No . . . No, I--
Maslun: You have known all along . . . the source of your damnation . . . Your own blistering fear! Your rampaging aggression! Yes, you have always known me by my one name . . . or another!
[In Argent's vision, the demonic vissage of Maslun transforms into an even more demonic face: that of Grendel.]
Argent: NOOOOOOOOOOO! It--It cannot be! Cannot . . . be . . . real! Just a . . . dreammmmmm . . .
[Argent falls to the floor. The vision is over.]
Arbogast Hockley: St-stay back, man... I know that you can't enter this protection circle, so j-just go away! It obviously didn't work . . . n-no harm done, right?
[Arbogast Hockley sits cowering on the floor with a magical circle drawn in paint or chalk on the wooden floor. A couple of candles sit burning on the circle's perimeter. Argent, undeterred by the circle, lunges toward Arbogast Hockley, apparently intending to kill the man.]
Argent: But I am no demon from hell, charlatan! I am . . . of my own making!
Arbogast Hockley: - choke -
Above: Argent believes in magic. This is not surprising, as his long-lived wolf form is itself a product of magic. self-described "wizard" Arbogast Hockley here offers to perform a spell that will help Argent find Grendel. [Source: "Devil Dreams"; written by Matt Wagner, art by Kelley Jones; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); page 72.]
From: "Argent, the Wolf" page on "Independent Heroes from the U.S.A." website (http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/a/argntwlf.htm; viewed 19 May 2006):
Argent was once a Brave, before a chance encounter turned him into a werewolf. Permanently in lupine form, by the late twentieth century he had become an advisor to the police. As such he became involved in the Grendel case, pursuing the thief and murder who went by that name. In a climatic battle he and Hunter Rose, the man behind Grendel's mask, faced off against one another - Hunter died, and Argent was crippled and left in a wheelchair.
From: "Grendel" page on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grendel_(comics); viewed 19 May 2006):
Decades later Hunter's legacy returned, when the daughter of his adopted child took on the mantle of Grendel - the Devil lived once more. Argent returned to the hunt, and harried Christine Spar, the new Grendel, until finally she came for him. Using all his strength, Argent walked again, although only briefly. Both he and Christine died in the resulting fight. Fuller profile to follow.
Comico Primer #2 (1982) contained the first Grendel story, introducing debonair master-criminal Hunter Rose and his nemesis, Argent the wolf. Grendel soon got his own black and white title, which lasted 3 issues. Wagner considers these stories a "rough draft".
From: "Let's Help Bill Loebs" message board, created in January 2005 on "Millar World" website (http://www.millarworld.net/index.php?s=a7a7144fa91a141e5f0814bec3343a92&showtopic=45040&st=80; viewed 19 May 2006):
Devil by the Deed
As a backup story in his other series, Mage (1984-1986), Wagner reworked and retold Hunter Rose's story in its entirety. It was collected by Comico in 1986...
Eddie left behind his former life and took on a new persona - or rather two. He became Hunter Rose, successful novelist and socialite, and Grendel, elegant costumed assassin and crime boss. He was hunted relentlessly by Argent, a man-wolf cursed with a thirst for violence, working for the police in an effort to turn his curse to good.
Hunter adopted a child, Stacy Palumbo, the daughter of a slain mobster, who was also befriended by Argent. But when Stacy discovered Hunter was Grendel she sold him out to the wolf. The two antagonists met on the roof of a Masonic temple; the battle left Argent paralysed, and Grendel unmasked and dead...
The ongoing Grendel series was published by Comico from 1986 to 1990, with Wagner as writer collaborating with a variety of artists. This series was nominated by for the Eisner Awards for Best Continuing Series, Best Single Issue (#12), earned Matt Wagner a nomination for Best Writer, and the Pander Brothers and Jay Geldof a nomination for Best Art Team.
The first twelve issues... were set in the near future and told the story of Stacy Palumbo's daughter, Christine Spar. When her son, Anson, was kidnapped by a Kabuki dancer (and vampire) called Tujiro XIV, Christine took on the identity of Grendel in her quest to rescue and/or avenge him. As she became more and more consumed by the Grendel identity her actions became more and more violent, and attracted the attention of the police, in particular Captain Wiggins, a chic, flamboyant New York detective... Wiggins enlisted the aid of Grendel's old arch-enemy Argent. Eventually Christine and Argent fought, to both their deaths...
In 1989 Silverback, a three issue miniseries written by Wagner and William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Messner-Loebs and John Peck, told the story of Argent's origin in a tale based on Native American mythology.
Jan 30 2005, 05:44 PM
Just out of curiosity... how many people are aware of the work of WM Loebs?
...Here's one of my favourites...
Silverback was a three issue mini published by Comico back in 1989. It has never been reprinted as far as I know and it had a pretty small print run during the days of Comico's financial difficulties.
This book details the backstory of Grendel's nemesis Argent, the main protagonist to the Hunter Rose and Christine Spar incarnations. It was co-plotted by Grendel creator Matt Wagner and written and drawn by William Messner Loebs.
This book was well suited to Loeb's strengths. It's a sad, scary, grisly affair concerning a Native-American werewolf and the past that haunts him. Argent is a 300 year old Indian shaman who was cursed by his tribe for a forbidden love affair. The Silverback series portrays argent as an ordinary man possessed by the spirit of Masun, the spirit of death.
You don't necessarily need to have read any of the Grendel comics to enjoy this stand-alone work.
I don't know how successful Dark Horse has been with their Grendel trades (or if they still have the rights to Grendel), but I think this three issue series would make a good trade paperback if it were packaged with Bernie Mireault and Matt Wagner's three issue Devil Inside arc that followed immediately after the Christine Spar/Pander Bros book.
Webpage created 19 May 2006. Last modified 20 May 2006.
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