In any comic book reboot, there are bound to be things that don't work. Sometimes reimagining characters for a modern audience inadvertently gets rid of the things that made them appealing in the first place. Of course, there are also plenty of reboots that have successfully reintroduced a superhero title to a new generation of readers.
But Grifter is not one of those books. In fact, it's not even a book where some things don't work. In Grifter, nothing works. Nothing at all.
I have a great deal of affection for the Wildstorm characters and initially I thought that it was a good idea to bring them into the new DCU rather than let them languish in limbo. But much like Stormwatch, Grifter simply resembles his earlier incarnation. This is not remotely the Cole Cash we read about in WildC.A.T.S., Point Blank or Sleeper.
That would be perfectly fine if the new Grifter was compelling on his own terms. However, the writer Nathan Edmondson doesn't even seem to have a handle on who he is. Is Cash a civilian inexperienced in combat or a highly trained "delta operator" as the script implies at the end? It's hard to believe either of those scenarios when Grifter clearly seems unaccustomed to fighting for his life and his best idea for getting off of a commercial airliner is by jumping into the water "before it gets too high."
Prior to his airplane ordeal, we see Cole supposedly swindle another con man who intended to leave Cole with a stash of worthless counterfeit bills. It's probably meant to establish that Cole is one of the best there is in his profession, but because we never have any clear idea of what the deal was about or what the stakes were it's impossible to care about it. It simply wasn't convincing.
While running away from the men that he betrayed, Cole is randomly grabbed by what appears to be an alien race. And during a period of missing time, it seems like the aliens attempted to use him as a host body. If they're keeping any Wildstorm history, I'm guessing that these are going to be the Daemonites. For an alien threat, they aren't very impressive here and Cole seems to be able to kill their human hosts fairly easily.
The book's greatest failing is that there is no point at which Cole seems like a viable character. He's simply a device to get the story rolling with barely a hint of personality beyond his terror for the creatures invading his life. Even the briefly glimpsed romance with his girlfriend doesn't ring true nor does her eventual rejection of him. It's almost as if the book itself was written by aliens without any understanding of how people act and what makes for an interesting story.
The artist CAFU doesn't fare much better. I'm not familiar with his previous work, but I didn't care for his particular style or the way that the human characters' eyes seemed like they were all about to leap out of their eye sockets. His action scenes are serviceable, but the storytelling from panel to panel is a little clunky. It's just not enjoyable to look at.
Ironically, this was a book that I asked to review because I really liked the old Grifter and I figured that it would be hard to get him wrong.
Turns out it's not that hard after all.
Crave Online Rating: 1/10