GRIT #2, available on August 26th from Scout Comics, introduces witches and herbomancers to Barrow’s current assignment, as he learns his last battle isn’t over just yet. Written by Brian Wickman and drawn by Kevin Castaniero, this issue picks up right where issue #1 left off (read our review here) and replaces the gore-soaked action with stellar character development without losing a lick of style or tone.
Castaniero’s cover style from the first issue to this one emphasizes an expert grasp on single-point perspective that packs a punch. Barrow is standing unflinchingly before the towering specter of the issue’s cliffhanger antagonist. That’s right, you don’t get to the big bad until the end, but it’s quite an entrance.
Wickman’s story, as noted, swaps out all-out gore action with backstory and character introductions. Through the clever use of a Bog Mother, you get an brief but effective setup for Barrow’s origins. Ari the Herbomancer comes in to save the day, but not before giving you plenty of foul-mouthed language and impressively organic dialog that tells you exactly where the story is going.
I liked Barrow and the world Wickman & Castaniero built in the first issue. This entry takes that development even further, and it’s thorough entertainment on every single panel. There’s a scene involving a “little birdie” that caught me off guard in a highly amusing way.
Castaniero’s art is stylistic, and it suits Wickman’s world to a T. The swamps are sufficiently slimy and muddy. The Bog Mother’s design is familiar and unique at the same time, reminiscent of Meg Mucklebones from Legend (1985) but still wholly unique for this setting.
There’s a Mike Mignola quality to Castaniero’s art that gives each character an exaggerated anatomy during certain sequences, particularly with the use of long face, long limbs and sloping shoulders. It’s this style choice that infuse the characters with a plasticity that makes their movements and gestures more dynamic.
Simon Gough’s coloring builds on his ability to infuse the issue with so much brown and yet keep the surroundings and characters distinctive. Everything is covered with the muck and mire of Southern woods after a heavy rain. Barrow and Ari are clothed in simple farmers clothes, and the overcast skies are absent any hint of bright color. In any other hands, the issue would be largely drab and dull, but Gough finds the right combination of hues to keep the woods alive.
Micah Myers lettering makes excellent use of color to delineate dialog between the humans and otherwordly beings. Specifically, the Bog Mother’s dialog uses a dark ash fill but the effective use of bright yellow for the letters and bubble borders makes her dialog pop. Overall, the lettering placement is very unobtrusive so as to let the character art breathe, and it’s very well done.
GRIT #2 adds in character development and story to breathe new layers of life into this Southern High Fantasy world. Wickman’s story shifts multiple gears from last issue without losing any of the spark, and Castaniero’s art blends with the story perfectly. I’m eagerly anticipating the next issue.