GRIT #1, available from Scout Comics on July 29th, is the inaugural story of a grizzled monster hunter cum backwoods pest exterminator that gets rid of your magical beasties for a modest fee. Brian Wickman’s writing and Kevin Castaniero’s art give birth to a new story that reads like a cross between The Witcher and A&E’s Billy The Exterminator visits Ash vs. The Evil Dead. In other words, Bonkers!
Castaniero’s cover gets right to the bloody bottom line with what you can expect in the issue. Old Man Barrow, the main character, looks gritty and determined to get the job done in a completely no-nonsense manner. Castaniero is also the internal artist, so the style is consistent from outside to in. Barrow’s design, costume, setting, and demeanor borrow heavily from the Southern loaner motif, and the closest comparison would be Clint Eastwood in any one of his better Westerns.
Writing [No Spoilers]
Wickman’s script is short on dialog and exposition, heavy on bloody action. The general premise centers on a grizzled monster hunter who’s periodically hired by the farm folk of his town to deal with pests. In this case, the pests are of the high fantasy variety: trolls, ogres, demons, and the like. When Barrow is summoned to help out with a “troll problem,” he quickly discovers the problem is a lot bigger (in more ways than one) than he was originally told. Mayhem ensues.
This issue is a standard 23 pages, and yet, it practically flies. There are several spots in the issue where the reader goes two or three pages without a single caption box or word bubble. Wickman’s script goes heavy on the action to tell the story and effectively tells you everything you need to know about how Barrow goes about his work and what a typical day-in-the-life is for him.
A final note about the tone: the setup and action are played straight. While the story is very amusing, it’s not silly or written for laughs. It’s horror with the occasional spot of black humor, and Wickman nails it.
Castaniero’s art style for this issue adroitly blends Southern farmer charm with maximum amounts of gore. No limb is spared, and absolutely every type of living creature was harmed in the making of this issue.
Fantasy lovers will appreciate the sheer range of elements drawn in such a compact story. Everything from trolls, to goblins to apocalyptic cults to faceless demons are represented here in gory detail. Horror lovers will appreciate the matter-of-fact way Barrow hacks and slashes his way through the hordes that descend upon him. Through it all, Castaniero has created a near-eyeless look of grit (hence, the title) in Barrow that convinces the reader not a single horror presented in the panel phases him in the least.
Simon Gough’s coloring here is practically a masterclass in contrast. Everything – from the woods to the local saloon to the farmlands and farmhands to Barrow himself — is richly colored in earth tones. However, there’s not a hint of drab or dullness in the setting. Then, when the action kicks in, The blood and gore stand out in stark contrast to the surroundings to make the violent outcomes all the more shocking, and therefore, effective.
Admittedly, Micah Myers is not given a lot to do in this issue, but the scant lettering here is top-notch. Due to the high gore content, Myers is tasked with creating sounds through lettering that need to portray impacts that are…moist. And that they are. Heavy punches, sweeping slashes, and wet thuds are all amplified perfectly with Myers’ lettering.
GRIT #1, available from Scout Comics on July 29th, is what would have happened if Clint Eastwood were cast in one of Peter Jackson’s earlier gore films. The art is both rustic and dripping with fantasy gore. And the character introductions leave you wanting more. I can’t wait for the next issue.