< Return to Religious Affiliation of Comics Book Characters Grendel (comic book anti-hero)

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Eddie, "Hunter Rose", Orion Assante, etc.

Grendel's religious affiliation might best be identified as "Satanist." Grendel's personal philosophy (at least that of the original "Hunter Rose" incarnation of the character) appears to be classically Nietzschean (also spelled "Nietzschian").

One should keep in mind, however, that Grendel is not known to have applied either term ("Satanist" or "Nietzschean") to himself. This identification is based on the character's origins, motivations, beliefs and philosophies - not on organizational membership or formal affiliation.

In 1971 author John Gardner published his novel Grendel. Like Matt Wagner's Grendel comics, Gardner's novel draw on the classic Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf for inspiration. (Grendel was a principle antagonist in that work.) The themes in Gardner's novel are explicitly Nietzschean. The writings of Nietzsche (including his influential book, The Antichrist) post-date Beowulf by about one thousand years. It is quite possible that Wagner's comic book character was inspired by Gardner's novel. The overt Nietzschean aspects of Wagner's character, including Grendel's paraphrasing of Nietzschean philosophy, could not have come from Beowulf. Much has been written about the Nietzschean philosophy in Gardner's Grendel (See, for example, "Thus Spake Grendel: The Nietzschean Antichrist of the Fens: A Comparative Essay Based on John Gardner's Grendel and Nietzsche's The Antichrist", by Aaron Hanson, 1997.)

A "Nietzschean Satanist" might seem like an unfamiliar juxtaposition to many readers, but in actuality the philosophies espoused by Nietzsche and the teachings of the religion formally known as "Satanism" are mostly quite compatible. (The teachings of both systems of thought are in many ways opposite the core ethics and values espoused by Christianity and other, more traditionally recognized and widely followed religions.)

Grendel is in one of America's longest-running and most widely-known independent comic book characters (i.e., character not published by one of the largest comic book publishers such as Marvel, DC, and Image). 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).

Various different characters have worn similar masks and costumes and operated under the name "Grendel." The original and one of the best known of these is a character known only as "Eddie" before he adopted the "civilian" identity of wealthy novelist/socialite "Hunter Rose" and the masked identity of "Grendel." Hunter's granddaughter Christine Spar operated as "Grendel" in the first ongoing Grendel series, which lasted for 40 issues. Another character who long wore the mantel of "Grendel" was Orion Assante, in a long-running series of stories set in the 26th Century.

Grendel sees only the Devil's face when he looks in the mirror
The comic book character Grendel was named after the monster in the classic Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. This name signals Wagner's intent that Grendel be a monstrous, violent character rather than a traditional hero.

Grendel is regularly referred to as "the Devil" by Matt Wagner's narration in Grendel comics. Some characters, including Argent, also refer to Grendel as a devil. For example, in "Devil Dreams" (page 70 in the Grendel: Red, White & Black trade paperback, Argent refers to Grendel as "the devil that plagues this city."

Grendel, in both his "Hunter Rose" and "Orion" manifestations, considers himself possessed by or a follower of the Devil (or a devil). Whether or not Grendel is actually possessed and controlled by a minor devil from Hell (or by Satan himself), or whether Grendel simply imagines this influence may be a matter of interpretation.

That Hunter Rose is possessed by a devil (or imagines himself to be thus possessed) is rendered explicitly clear in some accounts of the character's origins. But Grendel rarely or ever mentions this. When Hunter Rose was dying and explained the source of his "power" to Argent (his long-time nemesis), Hunter ("Grendel") made no mention of the devil. At this time, Grendel explained his philosophy in some detail, revealing a classically Nietzschean worldview. Grendel explained that his power comes from the fact that he has freed himself from "such pitiful notions as morality or faith."

Possibly this aspect of Grendel's character has shifted over the years through different interpretations of the character by Wagner and his collaborators.

Grendel murders a man on the steps of a Christian church.
Above: Grendel murders a fleeing man on the steps of a Christian church. If Grendel really is possessed by a devil, would he have entered into the church had the man been able to get inside?

Grendel is frequently called "the Devil" and at least some accounts of his origin posit devilish possession as the source of his abberent behavior. But in reality, there appears to be nothing supernatural about the source of Grendel's power. Grendel clearly has no moral compunctions about entering into a church (or murdering victims within a church), and there are probably no physical restrictions against him doing do, either.

[Source: "Devil Say, Devil Do", written by Matt Wagner, with art and lettering by Stan Sakai; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); page 110:]

Grendel's weapon of choice, which he is almost never seen without, is a staff tipped with two sword blades. This weapon resembles a spear with two long sword-like blades insted of one regular spear-head. Other characters have referred to this as Grendel's "fork." This two-pronged weapon is a deadly variation on the three-pronged pitchfork seen in traditional depictions of the Devil. Grendel's mask is a stylized depiction of the face of the devil that possessed him.

On one level, "Grendel" might be understood as a devil (i.e., a minor demon from hell) that inhabits or possesses various humans and controls their actions. The humans thus possessed by the "Grendel" devil demon are, in turn, known as "Grendel" as well. Is this possession real or imagined? As the Grendel series progressed, the villainous name of Grendel grew in fame, becoming something of a pop-culture villain in his near-future reality. Eventually "Grendel" became a synonym for Satan.

Grendel is in no way a traditionally religious character. The character has typically been portrayed as a gleefully evil criminal with little regard for traditional societal values and religious institutions. In fact, a large portion of the various series featuring Grendel have been regarded as openly anti-religious. Grendel's principle enemy (and target) in the series set int he 26th Century was a corrupt future version of the Catholic Church. Grendel does not appear to have any belief in God or any ties to a traditional religious upbringing. Grendel might be viewed as manifestly an atheist. But it is not clear that Grendel has ever identified himself in this way, or that such a label is even accurate. Grendel's belief that he is a devil or is influenced by a devil might a belief in a God (who he rejects and opposes). Or Grendel might not believe in God at all. In the broadest sense of the word, Grendel is like all humans in that he is not truly "non-religious," even if he rejects traditional organized religious denominations. In Grendel's case, his religious beliefs and practices simply include opposition to the religious, moral and ethical standards that most people subscribe to.

Possessing amazing athletic prowess and armed with a double-bladed spear, Grendel is an incredibly efficient killer. Yet he does not appear to be possess any actual super-powers that must be ascribed to super-natural or otherworldly sources such as the Devil.

A large proportion of the stories and vollected books featuring Grendel feature references to the devil in their titles. Published volumes of Grendol comics include: Devil by the Deed; Devil Child; The Devil Inside; Devil Quest; Devil Tales; Devil's Legacy; Devil's Reign; God and the Devil; The Devil Our Midst; The Devil's Apprentice; The Devil's Hammer; Devils and Deaths; Four Devils, One Hell and The Devil May Care. Individual Grendel stories from just one volume (Grendel: Red, White and Black) include: Devil's Week; The Nasty Li'l Devil; Evidence of the Devil; Devil's Assumption; Chase the Devil; Devil's Dash; Devil's Karma; Devil Colors; Devil Dreams; Devil Crossed; Devils Clash; Devil's Retribution; Devil Say, Devil Do; Devil, Devil, On the Roof; Scared of the Devil; The Devil's Tide; Rat on the Devil; Devil's Sentence; Devilish Escapades; Roulette du Diable; Devils Duel; Devil's Eulogy; Devil, Devil, Denouement.

Whether or not Grendel is actually possessed by a devil may be irrelevent when it comes to classifying the character's religious affiliation. Whatever consciousness is controlling Grendel's actions clearly embraces this devilish influence.

If Grendel's devilish possession is indeed imagined, is this "influence" essentially an excuse by Grendel to act out his inner aggression? Does Grendel use this "spiritual" (or "anti-spiritual") disposition as a source of power, releasing himself from societal controls and helping him further his acquisition of wealth and criminal influence? Or is Grendel simply mentally ill? The answers to these questions may be a matter of interpretation.

Although Grendel has been the title character and protagonist of the original Grendel series and multiple subsequent ongoing and limited series, he is not really a "hero," but is best classified as an "anti-hero." The original Grendel was an evil, murderous crimelord. He was opposed by "Argent," a man-wolf who worked with the police. This set up an inversion of the traditional super-hero comic book series, in which the protagonist is traditionally on the side of the law and/or morality.

Grendel does not always exhibit unethical values. The character appears to share some values commonly associated with religious and ethical people. For example, he appears to be strongly opposed to the sexual abuse of children. In "Devil's Retribution" and "Devil's Sentence", Grendel exhibited disgust toward men he strongly suspected of being child molesters. He killed and dismembered both men. Grendel also tortured one of these men before killing him (a Native American who had done work for Grendel by assisting in the murder of armored car drivers and the subsequent theft of the vehicle).

While Grendel's rejection of child abuse might seem like an example of his believing in a traditional religious value, it should be noted that he was far from innocent in these stories. Grendel's murder of the people he thought were abusers was not simply an exercise in vigilante justice. One of the men Grendel killed (in "Devil's Retribution") had kidnapped a girl (Stacy Palumbo) and was about to videotape her while she was sleeping. Grendel "rescued" the girl from him, but this was a girl that Grendel himself had kidnapped just minutes earlier. The girl had been enjoying a happy childhood in a wealthy family when Grendel killed her uncle and kinapped her. The fact that the girl's uncle was involved in organized crime was unknown to the girl. Grendel's own actions probably traumatized the girl, as she was the one who found her murdered uncle's dead body. Grendel does not target children with his crimes and violence, but he is not really a "champion of children." ["Devil's Retribution" was written by Matt Wagner, with art by Farel Dalrymple; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); pages 95-102. "Devil's Sentence" was written by Matt Wagner, with art by John K. Snyder III; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); see page 147.]

In another story, Grendel hunted and murdered Sloan Etheridge, a crooked U.S. Congressman who was an ally of organized crime figures. [See: "Devil's Dash", written by Matt Wagner, art by Michael Avon Oeming; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); see pages 87-94.] Once again, this might seem at first glance to be a sort of vigilante action, but it was not. While we might admire an attempt to root out corruption in politics, Grendel only targeted the Congressman because his "associations within Mafia circles had unwittingly brought him into opposition with the rival Ciccone Family." Grendel was the enforcer for the Ciccone Family, while working on expanding his own criminal influence. Does Grendel hate political corruption? It is unlikely, or irrelevent. Grendel involved himself in crooked politics and was not above bribing or otherwise manipulating government officials. Grendel killed Sloan Etheridge purely for his own criminal purposes. Grendel's murder of Congressman Etheridge illustrates the fact that Grendel does not care about "collateral damage" caused by his criminal escapades. The obese Congressman weighed 472 pounds and Grendel could have killed him without trouble. Instead, Grendel let the Congressman run, as a way of toying with the man. As a direct result of Grendel's actions, the Congressman's attempt at escape left one of his young Asian prostitutes with a broken hand, another with fractured ribs, trampled poodles, snapped the neck of an elderly custodian, and caused the death of an elderly couple in a car accident.

Grendel routinely killed honest police officers as well as rival organized crime figures, sometimes to pursue his criminal goals, and sometimes, it appears, just because he enjoyed killing people. He killed cab drivers, pedestrians, doctors, etc.

In subsequent incarnations of his character, Grendel has sometimes opposed oppressive societal forces, but he has nevertheless remained self-serving, violent, and anti-establishmentarian. The 26th Century Orion Assante version of Grendel probably had more of a social consciousness than Hunter Rose, but he, too, was fairly "free" from traditional societal and religious values. For example, he had an ongoing incestuous sexual relationship with his twin sisters. He also routinely used murder and manipulation to further his goals. In none of his incarnations can Grendel be regarded as "heroic" in the traditional sense, although his actions have sometimes served to bring down other evil people.

It is not accurate to compare Grendel to other "anti-hero" comic book characters such as Marvel's Punisher and "The Vigilante" of DC Comics. While such characters may have left similarly high body counts in their wake, the actions of those characters was motivated by a desire to make society safter by fighting crime and killing criminals. Hunter Rose (the first "Grendel") had no such desires. Other characters who wore the "Grendel" costume (such as Christine Spar) may have had motives more noble than Hunter Rose had, but they, too, were corrupted by the Grendel persona and, on balance, were forces of evil.

An Illustrated Poem Recounting the Origin of Grendel

"Devil, Deed, Denouement" is an illustrated poem, written by Matt Wagner, that hints at the devilish aspects of Grendel's origin. This poem encapsulizes the entire story of the "Hunter Rose" Grendel, from his origin to his death. The poem does not explicitly state that Hunter Rose was possessed by the devil, but states that "something took hold of his fertile, ripe, young mind" and that after the woman he idolized was murdered, "his soul was not his own." The poem refers to Hunter Rose as the "King of Hell" and an "angel of death." The poem also refers to the devil in a chorus accompanying each verse.

From: "Devil, Deed, Denouement", written by Matt Wagner, with art by Ashley Wood; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); pages 181-188:

Not so very long ago,
Back when it all began,
There stood a most exceptional
Yet borderline young man.
Alone and undirected,
He longed to strike and shine,
'Til something took hold of his
Fertile, ripe, young mind.

'Cuz the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

His world was soon surrendered
To a woman, sharp and dark,
Her appetites consumed him,
While her passions fired his spark.
And when she died, he never knew
The bitter seed she'd sown.
His grief was overwhelming,
But his soul was not his own.

See, the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

Then soon emerged a different life,
One of wealth and fame.
The hunter rose and set his sights
On vain and vapid game.
They fawned on him and ate his words,
Such sport was much too plain.
None of them quite realized
What lay hidden in his cane.

Now, the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

Another self, so dark and true,
Another game to win.
Angel of death slith'ring through
The avenues of sin.
"Mercy," they cry, every one,
But he's got none of that.
Left a trail of blood and tears
'Til King of Hell, he sat.

If the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

Let's not forget the Howlin' Wolf,
His plaything and his bane.
The only ugly challenge
To his vast and brutal reign.
The beast could tear and tatter,
Growl and grapple, rip and rend.
But its fearsome reputation
Was just fodder in the end.

Well, the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

Cycle came full circle.
A lass captured his heart.
Blackened, hard, and brittle.
It still trembled from the start.
To him she seemed a li'l angel,
So fetching, fair, and coy.
Made the man inside the fiend
Recall his days as just a boy.

Still, the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

Ahead loomed only tragedy,
Bloodshed, treason, and pain.
The child devised a cunning trap
To end his horrid game.
He never once suspected
Such a ruse could douse his flame.
By fear and force he'd always ruled
And died so, just the same.

When the devil don't care
What you need or want.
It's only Devil, Deed,
And Denouement.

But the trail's not at an ending.
'Fact, it's only just begun.
So many tales of rage and death
Lie waiting, yet to come.
His dark and twisted legacy,
His urge to strike and shine,
Would lay claim to many after him,
Time after bloody time.

Oh, the devil don't care
What you need or want.
'Y'hear me?
And Denouement!

And Denouement!

The Origin of Grendel, as interpreted by Stacy Palumbo

Stacy Palumbo is the young girl that was kidnapped and raised by Hunter Rose after he murdered her family. Grendel was ostensibly a caring adoptive parent for the girl, but he was unable to hide the evil "Grendel" side of himself from her. Stacy eventually allied herself with Grendel's nemesis Argent (who was a friend of hers even before she was forcibly adopted by Grendel). Stacy betrayed Grendel by arranging a final, fatal confrontation between him and Argent. As an adult, Stacy's upbringing at Grendel's hands led to her having severe psychological problems. Stacy is the mother of Christine Spar, who became the second "Grendel."

The account of Grendel's origin shown below may be accurate, but may also be distorted because it is told by Stacy.

Grendel and the Li'l Devil
From: "The Nasty Li'l Devil", written by Matt Wagner, with art and lettering by Jill Thompson; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); pages 13-20:
Narration: There once was a Li'l Devil who came up out of Hell, whereupon he found a suitable host: One who had a bright and beautiful capacity but a soul that was quite empty and vast.

The Li'l Devil soon sparked the tinder of this vacant essence, and a significant and lasting corruption was birthed.

Inside his new home, the Li'l Devil bided, warm and wily, until a time of bloody blossoming should arise.

He guided his charge through both woe and ennui, stoking the embers of discontent into the malevolence the boy would one day become.

Until, finally, the flame found its gasoline: an impetuous siren captivated the diabolic boy while his Li'l Devil just laughed and laughed. For, like all beautiful things, the boy's enchantress had a fluttering-moth life, fragile and finite. Held to his flame, she expired with an ecstatic gasp.

Yet the Hellish surge of his mettle, once loosed, was unquenchable. The boy became a man, deadly and undaunted. The grief of his loss had freed him of all care and concern. Soon he bagn to see the Li'l Devil's face in the mirror, in place of his own.

Conquest became his desire -- and like a comet he blazed a trail of terror and triumph, dichotomy and deceit, whilst his Li'l Devil reveled in all the bodies and blood.

Onerous and ominous, the Devil-Man's scent soon attracted an ancient predator, a wolf. A cursed and decrepit beast. It pursued him with a single-minded loathing. A condition that never failed to delight the Li'l Devil.

And so they thrashed and flailed, thrashed and flailed. Neither seeming ever to gain ground. Neither seeming ever to weaken.

Between them stood a Li'l Angel, naive and pure. Destiny's Lamb, the Li'l Angel, was beloved of both Devil-Man and Wolf. Unfortunately, the affections of evil are of the most infectious, insidious kind. Exposed to such escapades, the Li'l Angel found herself absorbing some of these wicked spirits. In time, she found that she could see only a li'l devil's face in the mirror. In the end, her innocence fell in shattered sacrifice, to the defeat by evil and rage . . .

[This account of Grendel's history has been depicted in highly stylized, very cartoonish art. These images now end and we see the final splash page that ends this story. We see Stacy Palumbo, the "Li'l Angel" described int the story, sitting in a chair drawing. She has been drawing the story we just read. She is sitting in her room in a psychiatric hospital. A nurse opens the door to her room and observes that she has been drawing.]

Nurse: Time for your medication, Ms. Palumbo. Oh. Isn't that nice? Have you been drawing again?

Grendel as Nietzschean: The philosophy of Hunter Rose (the first "Grendel") in his own words

From: "Devil's Eulogy", written by Matt Wagner, with art Michael Zulli; reprinted in Grendel: Red, White & Black; Dark Horse Books: Milwaukie, Oregon (2005); pages 173-180:
Grendel explains his Nietzschean philosophy, including abandonment of morality and faith
[Hunter Rose ("Grendel") lies dying on a rooftop after his epic final battle with Argent. Argent is severely injured as well. Neither of them can move very much, but they can talk.]

Grendel (Hunter Rose): And thus... In the twilight of our own making. If I share some of my secrets with you now, Argent -- and by this I mean my real secrets: The mysteries of power, of daring domination, and the easily ruptured will of the common man . . . If I share these with you now, will you promise not to use them against me?

Heh-heh-heh . . . KOFF-KOFF Don't bother to answer. I know, of course, that you would . . . if you could. And, of course, now . . . you can't. Heh. KOFF

Those days are gone . . .

Argent: As are you, demon.

Grendel: "Demon"? Hardly so chatoic as that, my furious fuzzball. No, let me tell you about the true power. And, in using that term, I don't mean simple capacity. Since the whirlwind years that have carried me from a Midwestern Hell, I have come to realize that there are vessels for capacity and talent. Many.

Life is so frivolous in it srandom deposits of potency. Like some indigent lover, life leaves its messy loads in the dark, and only you can clean up the mess.

It's the will that matters, not the muscle.

Take yourself for example. A frightful capacity. You are a marevl of unfettered might.

Argent: Damn me with your tained praise, murderer.

Grendel: In the . . . several hundred year of your existence, I can readily assume that you have killed far more than I, stubborn brute! Or perhaps the numbers are exactly the same.

Hmmm . . . That's always been the problem . . . you bewail your astonishiing faculties and form as a curse. A yoke placed on your shoulders by that same ethereal unknown that outfits us all. And that is what distinguishes us, Wolf. You growl with remorse, whilst I laught with disdain.

Argent: We are nothing alike!

Grendel: Hmmm . . . When I came to accept the reality of myself, I became forever free of the trappings of outcome. I have everything the world can offer, and fear nothing for losing it. You have nothing but your own pain, and fear the loss of even that.

Life rewards only those who want it to, and that, my braying beast, is the true secret of power. Found only in the marriage of capacity and desire. The thus-empowered find themselves divorced of such pitiful notions as morality or faith. My power was absolute because I wanted it so.

What the world couldn't -- or wouldn't -- give me, I took. What challenges it failed to provide, I devised. What thrills it denied me, I conceived. I have wanted this world far more than it ever wanted me. Everything is my own fault -- and I love it so. All . . . Because I wanted it.

Argent: You are an abomination.

Grendel: ...Et tu, Brute? Don't you understand? True power is hammered into perfection. Its mighty clash: cold, crisp, and clear, like the ringing report of steel against steel. I am that swinging blade, and you, foul wolf, were my anvil.

Argent: N-no.

Grendel: Because of desire, there was Grendel. Because of myself, he was majestic. Because of you, he was transcendent. Because of you, trying ever to stop me, I was unstoppable!

Argent: NOOO!

Grendel: Alas, now I see . . . It was all due to Stacy that I lost my fooding on the ladder of dominion . . . and fell. I should never have done it. I should never have taken her away from you.

Argent: You--?

Grendel: I knew the Reynolds sham would have a disastrous effect. Stacy is a headstrong child and not easily swayed once she has formed an opinion. I knew your public humiliation woul soon sow the seeds of revulsion in her tender mind. What I failed to realize was that soon everything began to repulse her. I confess I was driven by our endless deadly dance. At that piont, I hadn't realized its necessity. I was simply frustrated by your incessant challenge. I needed to strike-- sharp and true. And I suppose . . . I suppose I was also jealous of her affection for you. It was so selfless and yet so unsolicited. I knew that. But I also felt sure that you were never much concerned for her welfare, only her endearments.

Argent: I-- I cared for her. D-deeply. Don't you dare suggest--

Grendel: Of course. I know that now, Argent. Isn't it obvious?

I-I wonder how long she has known [that Hunter Rose, her adoptive father, is really Grendel]? And how she found out? Does it matter now? She is special -- that's enough.

Argent: It must've been her tonight. The calls. The tip-offs. Prodding us--

Grendel: Positioning us. She has learned her lessons better than I dared think. And here, it was only just you again.

I should have known that I couldn't conceal things from her . . . She . . . she was my . . . was my legacy and my love . . . and myyyyy . . . So, you see, Wolf! Stars do, indeed, fall from the heavens, don't they? The hammer falls and the spark is struck. The mightier the blow . . . the more ferocious the flashing gleam! And thereafter, alas, they are only . . . destined to fall! There . . . I have said the hated word.

Argent: All is destined . . . fiend.

Grendel: They . . . They tumble to Earth . . . with . . . the . . . rest of the mud, or sometimes, I suppose . . . Sometimes they are shot down. But . . . But at least . . . They swam the eternal firmament. At least . . . At leat they were up there at all. At least they had . . . all that way . . . to fall . . .

[Grendel slumps over, dead. Argent looks on silently.]

From "Grendel (comics)" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grendel_(comics); viewed 19 May 2006):

Grendel is a long-running series of comic books originally created by author Matt Wagner... Originally a noir comic concerning a criminal mastermind, it has evolved into, in Wagner's words, a study of the nature of aggression.

The first Grendel was Hunter Rose, a youthful genius who wrote novels by day and ran a criminal empire by night. He first appeared in 1982 in the anthology Comico Primer, followed by a three-issue black and white miniseries in 1983, and his complete story was reworked and told in Grendel: Devil by the Deed... Wagner returns to Hunter Rose from time to time, such as in the two Batman-Grendel crossovers, and occasional miniseries of short stories...

The [original Grendel] story begins with an extraordinarily gifted boy, his name only given as Eddie. Because victory in his endeavors came so easily to him, it all seemed meaningless. In despair, he threw a world-championship fencing match, and began a torrid affair with Jocasta Rose, a fellow fencer. When Jocasta died, 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 second Grendel's stories] 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 with a cybernetic eye that also functioned as a lie detector. Wiggins enlisted the aid of Grendel's old arch-enemy Argent. Eventually Christine and Argent fought, to both their deaths...

When Bernie Mireault asked Wagner if Grendel could ever inhabit a crowd, Wagner was inspired to re-imagine the whole series. Starting with #16, he broke from the "next person puts on the mask" pattern he was establishing...

The actions of Christine Spar and Wiggins' books [eventually make] Grendel a household name. The following three issues became more experimental, depicting the growth of the concept of Grendel from pop-culture villain to synonym for Satan, against a background of political upheaval, social breakdown, nuclear war and environmental catastrophe. These four stories ran in Grendel #20-23...

The storyline resumed in the 26th century, when much of the world was contaminated. America had fragmented into a number of corporate "systems" dominated by a corrupt Catholic Church, now based in "Vatican Ouest" in Colorado and led by Pope Innocent XLII. Innocent was bleeding the systems dry to build a huge, ostentatious tower.

Orion Assante, a corporate auditor and wealthy aristocrat, tried to work within the system to stem the Church's financial corruption, but his efforts were upstaged by the acts of a lone anti-Church terrorist, blasphemously dressed as Grendel. This was Eppy Thatcher, an insane factory worker fuelled by a designer drug called "Grendel" and convinced God hated him. To combat him, the Church established a second Inquisition, and hired Pellon Cross, head of the mercenary Confederacy Of Police (COP) to provide security. Innocent, in reality the vampire Tujiro, used Cross to retrieve the materials needed to complete the weapon he was building at the top of his tower - a weapon designed to block out the sun. As an afterthought, he turned Cross into a vampire.

Assante, driven to desperate measures by the death of his sisters/lovers, led a small private army to destroy the "sun-gun". At the same time Pellon Cross, who had escaped Tujiro's clutches and turned a number of his fellow COPs, led an army of vampires against the Vatican, and Grendel also staged an attack. The Vatican was destroyed before the sun-gun could be activated. Tujiro and Grendel apparently perished in the conflagration.

God and the Devil... ran in Grendel #24-33...

Orion had long been nicknamed "Grendel" for his role in bringing down the church, but he had now come to believe he was actually possessed by the devil... Embracing his originally derogatory nickname, he declared himself Orion I, the first Grendel-Khan. His troops became known as "Grendels", and to be a Grendel became an honourable, high-status position in society. Grendel had, in effect, conquered the world.

Devil's Reign... ran in Grendel #34-40, bringing the series to a close...

In 1989 Silverback, a three issue miniseries written by Wagner and William Messner-Loebs... told the story of Argent's origin in a tale based on Native American mythology.


From: "Religion and Superheroes, Not Just for Thor Anymore", forum discussion started by "Christian" on 4 May 2007 on "Voices from Beyond" website which provides forum service for "Straight to Hell: A Hellblazer Site" website (http://hellblazer.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=5540&st=0; viewed 10 May 2007):

May 4 2007, 12:55 AM

...This web-site has a listing of most superheroes and supervillains and their religious affiliation. I've been having lots of fun with this site!


post May 6 2007, 12:25 AM

I was oddly surprised at the idea that Hunter Rose is a Satanist, but it makes sense. Still, I think he is an Atheist.

post May 6 2007, 12:42 AM

Rose would be a Satanist of the non-theist variety and you can have it both ways!

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