So this isn’t a “keep, sell, donate, or trash” type of comic because a couple of issues into John Ostrander’s run on Starslayer, First was publishing backup stories featuring his and Tim Truman’s creation Grimjack. This isn’t anything new to the comic–as I noted, issue #2 of the Pacific Comics series is going to prove to be hard to find because it includes the first Rocketeer comic by Dave Stevens–and is an adventure used as a launching pad for Grimjack’s own title. But up until this point, I really haven’t cared much about backup stories in the comics I’ve been reading, mainly because they were disposable pieces in various Badger comics.
I was, however, a little familiar with Grimjack, or at least I had seen the character before. He’s a war veteran turned mercenary who operates in outer space, and it seems that Cynosure, the planet where we’ve spent the past few issues of Starslayer, is his home base. That, by the way, is why there’s a logic to the crossover in issue #18, which directly precedes his own ongoing title.
I’m not going to do much in the way of coverage when it comes to issue #17’s backup. It’s this weird story that involves cartoon/stuffed animals and a bounty and ends with money that literally talks … I wonder if it was a filler because the key backup had finished and maybe they needed something to put in that issue. But issue #10-16’s story is one called “Buried Past” and while I don’t have the first chapter, the others make me want to go buy it so I can read it (although I wonder if #10 is a pain in the ass to find because it’s a firs tappearance).
So in this one, Grimjack is tracking down these vampires whom have killed and resurrected his friend, and he seems to be working against the clock here so that maybe he can do it before his friend completely turns, even though we know that’s not going to happen and he’ll have to sacrifice his friend as well. Each chapter, he’s tracking down a different vampire until he gets them all, and Ostrander and Truman do a great job at giving us a complete chapter in each issue as opposed to one comic book just sliced up across several different backups in other books.
This has the potential to be a comics cliche. Grimjack is John Gaunt, he’s haunted by his past–in this case, quite literally–and he has just as much the interstellar swashbuckler look as our Starslayer hero. Plus, we have a Frank Castle-like inner monologue through narration boxes that suggest he’s grizzled and jaded. And under lesser creative hands, he totally would be a cliche, but here I found myself having a lot of fun. Truman does gritty-looking horror art in a way that few can really match (Tom Mandrake, Ostrander’s other long-time collaborator is another who could) and I can see where he pulled from for Count Viper and the Netherworld denizens in the final days of the Hawkworld book.
So as we head into issue #18 of Starslayer, we have Grimjack in Cynosure coming upon Chris, Tamara, and Crayne. Oh, and Crayne owes him money? This is going to be good.