theshame's Batman/Grendel #1 - Devil's Riddle review

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Not your run of the mill crossover

(Note: This review covers both books 1 and 2). 
Having strolled down to my local comic-shop in order to kill time, (i guess i really don't have much to do), i couldn't help but notice a peculiar black and green book skulking at the back shelf.  Drawn by the allure of its dark hued pulpish cover, i decided to purchase said comic as i believed that it would provide an intriguing and unusual read.  Suffice to say i was not disappointed, as Matt Wagner provides a stellar piece of work that can be enjoyed by both Batman and Grendel fans, with his dark noir style art complimenting the equally mature plotline that pits the World's greatest detective against the insidious crime lord Grendel.   However, the most compelling aspect of this crossover is arguably the manner in which Grendel gels so well with the bleak atmosphere of Gotham city. Whilst Grendel is able to match Batman blow for blow, Hunter Rose's status as an genius like adversary concealed by the veneer of opulence serves as the perfect yin to Batman's yang, though Wagner also takes the time to demonstrate that Rose is not purely a psychopathic madman.  
The level of care and attention devoted to the characterization of Grendel also serves to benefit the Dark Knight, with Batman being forced to rely upon his cunning, detective skills and experience in order to predict his enemy's next moves.  As fans of the caped crusader must know, Wayne really shines in the face of adversity and is at his best when tested by fearsome opponents such as Joker, Ra's al Ghul, Bane and Dr Hurt.  In this aspect, Grendel continues this tradition, though i must say that the Devil's failure to interact with members of Batman's rogues gallery (apart from references to the riddler) was disappointing to say the least. 
The Good: Attractive art style and great characterisation, whereas the interaction and similarities between Batman and Grendel provides a level of depth absent from similar crossovers.  The climatic battle between the two characters serves to tie loose ends together whilst the denouement is both satisfying and suitable.
The Bad: The time taken for the plot to fully develop may be unbearable for impatient readers.  Wagner's panel layout can be confusing at times, whereas fans may criticize the crossover for not containing enough action scenes.
Verdict: An enjoyable crossover that calls upon the backgrounds of its protagonists in order to form a psychological action thriller that is both tense and suitably dark.


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