Grifter: Season 1 Finale
Sigh. Look, it's better than the Green Lantern banner because I get the point of this one. It's not hyping a movie that didn't need extra hype, and its for a good cause. But it doesn't change the fact that the "We Can Be Heroes" banner is a huge detriment to the covers its on. Here especially it's quite a mess. The colors are far too similar to Midnighter's costume, so it REALLY obliterates the nice empty white sky. It makes it feel boxed in instead of in an empty open snowy wilderness. It's a real shame, without the banner this is a really nice cover.
Midnighter's cameo actually serves a huge purpose. This IS one of those 'One-shot' type cameos, but it isn't NEARLY as useless as most. It's part of this insane chain of events crossing through at least three series, and yet it doesn't feel too forced. It's one of the most natural flowing 'semi-crossover' type things I've ever seen. It really makes the New 52 feel like they're all part of one big world. Events aren't limited to one 'world' of a series, sometimes things are just part of the bigger scale. Normally this kind of thing can be awkward or hamhanded but it really isn't here. Grifter's just a middle man in this overarching subplot of several series, but it works. Because like his character, his series is just using this crossover story to advance its own story.
I don't have a lot of exposure to Midnighter, but he seems pretty well written here. He gets REALLY pissed off though, his expressions towards the latter half of the issue were almost 'Liefeld' angry, but it worked here. Grifter is just so alone in the DC Universe, nobody understands his side of the story, and people are rarely willing to listen because circumstances are always against him. Grifter is ALWAYS in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he's just so resourceful. This is what his strong suit is, knowing how to get out when the chips are down. He rarely seems to 'win' but he has a lot of street smarts. He knows when its smart to 'lose.' This issue really makes that point hit home. Because, Midnighter might be an exceptional strategist and analyst and everything, but he's in it to win it, and that's his fatal flaw, and creates the believable victory for Grifter. I assume Midnighter is essentially supposed to be able to 'Win any fight.' That's the indication I got from his wiki entry as well as general fan input. But that's just it, he 'won' the fight. But Grifter didn't lose. He was at a huge disadvantage the whole time, it was clear that Midnighter was his superior in pretty much every way. Even his analyses of Grifter's personality and style were fairly spot on. But he was in it to win, and Grifter really helped push that notion into him with his unpredictable tactics. Midnight still had the edge in the face of the unpredictability, but he didn't take into account that Grifter wasn't fighting to win.
Whew, that took a lot longer than I expected, and I think I may have gone in circles a little bit, but I wanted to make sure I had my bases covered in case any Midnighter fanboys jump on this like vultures because Midnighter wasn't as awesome as he should be. I'm not saying they WOULD, but I'm saying the possibility does exist. And maybe I don't know Midnighter well enough. If you disagree AND you can state it eloquently enough, I invite you to educate me. I'm serious, Midnighter seems like a fantastic character and I want to make sure I'm not being misled here.
Speaking of said fight... it's awesome. It's exactly like everything we've seen in Grifter, but all in one place. There was a lot of differen't kinds of things we've seen Grifter do. Inventive ways to win each fight, but this is the first time he's had to really utilize ALL the skills he's demonstrated in one single situation. It's like.... a season finale. With the 'Primetime action drama' 'episodic' feel of this series, this issue makes an incredible season finale. Grifter is up against an opponent he can't possibly defeat. The last two issues sent him on a very specific 'arc' of events indirectly leading him to this moment, he discovered a well of new energy that opens up a wider array of possibilities, potential, and tension for 'the next season,' and he even has such a climactic aftermath/cliffhanger/setting up a new goal for next season scene at the end.
Honestly, the only real complaint I have is the absence of Sophia. Now I know I said I don't like her. She's pretty flat and uninteresting and cliche. And her motives are completely unclear, with Grfter not once even QUESTIONING them, and Grifter's girlfriend Gretchen is FAR more interesting. But her absence here is so painfully forced. Grifter apparently just "Left her behind" because he "Needs to do this one on his own." BULL. CRAP. You 'left her behind' IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIMALAYAS? She was right there with you when you guys fell from the Daemonite ship last issue. Where the hell did you leave her behind that you could find her again, or that she would have any chance of survival, or.... just... how did you convince her not to follow you to help out? No justification of it whatsoever. I UNDERSTAND her absence from a literary perspective. NO WAY Grifter could contrive a way to save both himself AND her from Midnighter, not to mention it would completely screw up the tension and dynamic with a voice of reason to ease the assumptions away. But he 'just left her behind' is pathetic, Edmondson didn't even try to justify her absence.
In Conclusion: 4.5/5
BEST ISSUE YET. Like I said, SEASON FINALE. Awesome action, surprise twists, increasing the scale of tension and epicness, revelations, new status quo/next season hook; It's all there. It took all of the best elements of the previous issues and meshed them into one, straining out most of the stuff holding it back. And I feel a little better about the slightly less than stellar issues because they really helped make this one stand out more as the 'Season Finale.'