This page is for Hunter Rose, the first person to use the name Grendel. See here for the Grendel spirit that has possessed many other people.
Major Story Arcs
It should be noted that the history of Hunter Rose has been told and retold in various forms over the years, so there are some inherent variations and contradictions in the details of his life. Also, some of the stories are told without a clear reference to what time period they took place in, so the exact chronology of some events is impossible to nail down perfectly. Some of the following events arguably took place earlier or later in his life than the way they are recorded below.
Birth of the Devil
Grendel grows up, becomes a master fencer, meets his one true love, and starts his career as a hitman and criminal mastermind.
Grendel is not the only alias of the dashing author known as Hunter Rose. Rose's real name is unknown, but he admits that before becoming Hunter Rose he was known as Eddie. As a child Eddie grew up in an unnamed suburb in a middle-class American household. Eddie's curse was his brilliance. He was not only adept at, but excelled at virtually everything he tried his hand at. No one, not even his parents, truly understood him he felt bored and alone.
When Eddie took up fencing, he was able to make it to the world championship in England at only fourteen or fifteen (depending on the version of the story). He beat all his competitors easily, but when he got to the final round, he was so angry at how easy it was for him to beat everyone that he let his opponent win.
After the match, Jackie (Jocasta Rose), brazenly walked in on him in the locker room. Jackie was a stunningly beautiful trainer of the English team, and was taken in with Eddie's speed and style as a fencer. Despite being over twenty years his senior, Jackie and Eddie began a romantic relationship. Their illicit relationship was passionate. Eventually people stopped looking for Eddie. She taught him about life, the fight, and "the game." She considered life to be one big game, and it was the thrill that pushed her onward. The two continued their passion for fencing together.
Jackie's death came suddenly for Eddie. Jackie had been terminally ill, and had known that she was since before the two even met. She never disclosed to Eddie that she was sick, nor did she show any sign of its coming. Her end came swiftly, and her arrangements had been made a year prior. In this one event Eddie lost everything that he had, everything that he cared about. It was then that he would reject the idea of fate, choosing to forge his own destiny with purpose.
After Jackie's death Eddie moved back to America. His parents had died in his absence. Eddie intended to continue Jackie's game, doing whatever he found challenging. Within a month of arriving back in the states he had written his first novel, Creon. For this he had fabricated a new public identity in the form of Hunter Rose, demonstrating again the profound effect Jocasta had on his life. By this time the young boy that was Eddie was only a memory. He sent the book in to Strickland and Sons, where it was discovered by the editor Locutious Bradley. They published it immediately. Over the next few years, they also published Glee Club, Indigo, and My Little Chickadee. He always insisted on his books being published exactly as he wrote them, with no editing. The one time Bradley made a change, Rose threatened him to never do so again. His final book, Riptide Reflections, was published by another house after Rose became unhappy with Bradley. The books were all very successful, and he became a fixture within high society, hailed as a literary genius.
Right after he wrote the first book, however, Eddie was also secretly keeping his ear close to the criminal underworld. Two months after first returning from England, he listened to a contract being ordered, and before the hitman could make his move, he had slain the two marks. Masked and armed, Eddie showed up to the office of the man that had taken out the contracts, Theodore "Teddy Boy" Ciccone, and bombastically killed the other hitman in front of him while delivering lines from Alice in Wonderland. Theodore was impressed and hired the masked assassin.
He had taken up the name Grendel in his guise as a criminal. As Grendel he struck fear into the hearts of those he encountered, and took a forked staff as his weapon. When Jocasta was still alive, he and she had played around in bed, painting faces on their fencing helmets. After she died, he came up with the classic black-and-white Grendel face by painting it on a fencing mask, and then adapted that design for his costume. As Hunter Rose he became a best-selling author and a prominent, wealthy socialite within the city's elite crowd. At a party Rose encountered a friend from his childhood that remembered him as Eddie due to the white patch of his hair. Rose killed him in cold blood in order to protect his identity, and signed the crime scene with his normal calling card: a "G" made from the blood of his victim.
He was a very capable and ruthless assassin. In one case, he killed another hitman, Virgil Smith. Smith was known for doing extensive research on his targets, then befriending them, giving them a week of pleasure before killing them. Grendel, in contrast, did the same amount of research on Smith himself, but dispatched him quickly, with none of Smith's humanity. He didn't fight to wound; when police would draw their guns on him, he cut them down, even if he didn't really have to. He also killed some very high-profile targets, including U.S. Congressman Sloan Etheridge.
There are two stories about how Grendel became the Ciccone mob's leader, instead of just its assassin. In the first version, Ciccone set an elaborate trap for Grendel when he became nervous about not knowing who was underneath Grendel's mask. Grendel was not tricked by the obvious set up, but decided to spring the trap out of curiosity. Grendel pretended to be knocked out, then killed all of Ciccone's hired goons, then set after Ciccone himself. He decided to allow Ciccone to live, and to continue running his business. Grendel, however, would take the top position within the organization and become Ciccone's boss.
In the second version of this story, Ciccone was marked for assassination by Mossad due to a gun deal that involved Israel. Grendel killed the Mossad hitman and kidnapped Ciccone's girlfriend. Then he blackmailed and intimidated Ciccone into making Grendel the new boss.
In either case, Ciccone grew to not mind the arrangement because under Grendel's ruthless leadership income tripled within the first year. Grendel cleaned up Ciccone's business by cutting out business dealings that he found distasteful, particularly child prostitution and PCP dealings.
The Devil's Foe and the Devil's Daughter
Grendel begins his relationship with his chief foe, Argent, and his adopted daughter, Stacy.
Later, Rose was contacted by Barry Palumbo, who himself had been contacted by Argent the wolf. Grendel and Argent had not yet met, but due to their reputations he considered their eventual meeting inevitable. Argent wanted Barry to help set a trap for Grendel. Barry contacted Grendel to explain his meeting with Argent, and how he had a business interest in working with Grendel. He told Grendel he would double-cross Argent and kill Argent instead. However, Barry's plan was actually to kill both of them using explosives at the warehouse where they were supposed to meet.
Barry held a party with many of the people in high society. In a back room, he met with Argent, and then again with Rose, to tell them everything was going according to plan. Rose, however, was not fooled, and poisoned Palumbo. He then joined the party in his secret identity. He chatted with Larry Stohler, a well-known gossip. They had a joking, friendly relationship and often made fun of the others in their circle for taking themselves too seriously. Rose had miscalculated, however, and Barry's adopted niece, Stacy Palumbo, found the body during the party. She was in a shocked state. Rose had grown very fond of the young girl (coincidentally Argent had too), and made the mistake of attempting to save her from what had happened. Quickly turning into his alter ego, Grenel kidnapped Stacy before he could be caught by the other party guests or the now-arriving police force.
Argent had been called in by the police, and by some luck came across the side of the house that Rose was attempting to escape through. Rose and Argent, in their first official meeting, fought each other ferociously. Grendel wielded his electrified, forked staff while Argent was quite deadly even unarmed. Grendel managed to injure Argent and escape while the gardens that they fought in burned. Grendel did not wish to kill Argent (and by doing so end the game that he so enjoyed), and let Argent live.
Grendel's problems grew when he discovered that Stacy's body was taken while she was unconscious. Grendel found a cabby that had witnessed a man taking Stacy, extracted the necessary description, and killed the cabby for not intervening. Grendel quickly tracked down the pedophile's apartment, scaled the fire escape, and killed him in one powerful blow of his staff.
Grendel knew that with Hunter Rose and Stacy having been absent from the party (and Argent having seen Grendel with Stacy) that the police would easily determine what had occurred. He put Stacy in the garden where he fought Argent away from the blaze so that no one would question her ever having left, and re-entered the party dressed as Rose. He ran into Stohler again. Larry had pieced together what had happened, and purposefully threw the police off Rose's tail. Larry planted cyanide pills in the purse of Barry's girlfriend so they would have an easy suspect. When Larry told Rose of what he had done, Rose decided to include Larry in his dealings. As a constant source of information, Larry would prove an invaluable resource to Rose and Grendel. After the dust had settled, and Barry's girlfriend was condemned for his murder, Rose applied for adoption of Stacy.
It was a controversial adoption because Rose was only eighteen himself. However, he wrote My Little Chickadee, a novel that paralleled the situation. It brought public opinion over to his side. He was already a famous novelist by this time.
While under Rose's care, Stacy continued to be also nurtured by Argent. Argent would often visit before he believed Rose would come home. Rose used this fact to his advantage. He would occasionally come home early and "accidentally" catch Argent off guard, and would drop subtle hints about the pair's social engagements to ensure that Argent would be there.
Argent continued his pursuit of Grendel, with Grendel always one step ahead. His hatred of Grendel only grew. A sting operation was arranged for Argent to apprehend several of Grendel's men unloading an illegal shipment on the docks. The completely bloodless apprehension was highly publicized by the police department in order to improve Argent's public image. Rose saw this as a blatant publicity stunt. Grendel did appreciate and enjoy his competition with Argent; it provided him with one of his only true challenges. He respected Argent's pure capacity and cunning. Back before he killed Barry Palumbo, Grendel told him,"You are far too cavalier [in dealing with Argent]. Even I, who am fearless, tread carefully here." Neither of them spared anyone any mercy if they got the way of their rivalry; Argent might bloodily torture a Grendel lackey, only to have Grendel kill the lackey to keep him from squealing.
At one point an informant, Larry Nuncio, came forward to the police with information that for the first time in recent history, Grendel was taking a job for a hired hit again against a Hollywood mogul with several enemies in the city. Because of the nature of the informant, the police as well as Argent believed him. On the night the hit was supposed to take place, a party was being held. There was a plainclothes police detail outside the manor to search entering vehicles. If Grendel did arrive undetected, Argent would be hiding in the darkness of the grounds waiting. During the party Argent caught Grendel's scent on the roof of the house, and he spotted Grendel over a window. Rushing to catch his enemy, Argent found that there was no one there and crashed through a skylight. Argent's graceless fall was seen by all spectators of the party, including Rose and young Stacy. It would later be discovered that Grendel had fooled the Wolf by placing a sound-activated hologram generator as well as a device that would release his scent on the mansion. The devices were triggered by the applause of the crowd at the party.
Stacy was disheartened at the sight of Argent's plummet, and became withdrawn. Their relationship waned until finally they rarely saw each other or spoke. Rose had not planned for the effect that losing Argent would have on Stacy. Afterward, Stacy always seemed just a little bit sadder, and nothing Rose did would cure her.
It is clear, however, that while Hunter wrote very positively about their relationship, calling her an angel and a lamb, and while his writings formed the public's opinion of them, that he never really knew how to deal with the life of a normal child, even at the best of times, and their relationship was sometimes fraught by her frustration with his ideals. He would bring her to adult parties with no other children, and expect her to be interested in haute cuisine and society affairs. She would often sit around their apartment, alone and bored. When she wanted to watch cartoons, he indulged her for a moment, then ripped out the cable, angry at how mundane they were. He didn't invite any children to her birthday party, only himself and his consigliere Larry Stohler; then he left on Grendel business and left her with Larry. When she asked for pets, he only gave her stuffed animals over and over again. She eventually took out her frustrations on her stuffed animals, ripping them apart. She became obsessed with spiders, which Hunter had described to her as solitary and serene.
The incident's effect on Argent was also obvious. The loss of Stacy's companionship made Argent angrier than before, and he continued to grow more violent while carrying out his normal duties.
Various actions and mannerisms in his life of crime.
Grendel's criminal organization continued to grow, with more and more under his control all the time. Anyone that stood in his way was killed. Rivals and other individuals were often brought under his control. However, he did get rid of certain criminal businesses like child prostitution and PCP dealing. Not only would he not be involved in those crimes himself, he would root them out anywhere he found them. Children were his one true concern: in one situation, he killed a roomful of criminals; the last survivor held a child as his hostage. Grendel killed the criminal, saved the kid, and alerted the police as to his whereabouts so he would be OK. In another situation, he had a bank guard act as an inside man for him while he robbed an armored car. After the robbery, however, he tortured and killed the guard for being a child abuser.
He continued to make hits on rival businessmen, particularly those who dealt in such offensive businesses. For instance he once raided an underage brothel and slaughtered everyone inside. Finding that Everett Christie, a city official, ran the child prostitution ring within the city, Rose moved on him next. Rose contacted Argent, taunting that he was going to kill Christie. Rose attended a party with Christie, and when he was alone changed into his alter ego and murdered him. Afterward Argent and Grendel battled again, but still to no great conclusion.
Rose was ruthless in his dealings with everyone. He cruelly tried to blackmail a prominent, principled lawyer into becoming his syndicate's attorney, and when that didn't work, he threatened his family. The man finally succumbed to Grendel's will to protect his family, ruining his reputation and life in doing so--although Hunter did protect him against the violence of other mobs.
When fellow mobsters didn't do what he wanted, he would intimidate them through a reign of fear, for instance breaking into their home and killing everyone else inside except the boss, on whom he would write a note in his own blood. He was often bombastic and creative in his methods of intimidation. He hired a graffiti tagger to paint threats all over his opponents' cars and buildings. When the tagger was caught, Grendel massacred all the men who had grabbed him, and told the tagger he was no longer needed.
In another situation, he tortured a man to death just to confirm one small detail of information that he already knew.
His reputation often drove men to hide out to save their lives, but it never helped. One mobster, Mitchell Garrison, hid out in a hotel under an assumed name, but Grendel sent him a telegram there under his real name, telling him he had one hour to live. He then proceeded to effortlessly kill over a score of men guarding the increasingly paranoid mobster before finally killing Garrison himself.
One man he had targeted for death, Rusty Snells, went to the extreme of asking a voodoo master, Toro, to help him using magic. Toro summoned Rose, but Grendel was already there to kill Snells. Toro's zombies killed Snells and his friends. Toro said he wouldn't call on the devil (Rose) unless he had to, and that the debt was paid by Snells' sacrifice. Grendel left Toro without further violence, apparently feeling that Toro had acted within his rights.
He usually left no witnesses, and had no mercy, however: for instance, after killing a room of mobsters in the dark, he also killed the civilian doctor who had been blackmailed into coming and trying to heal one of the mobsters.
Grendel enjoyed toying with people; he didn't need his criminal activities for an excuse. Once when he was stopped by some muggers in a park, he led them on a chase and playfully killed them one by one for fun.
Many of his malicious acts were planned long in advance however. Once he visited a zoo on multiple occasions, surveilling the tigers, before throwing a victim inside their cage to be eaten.
There were a few surprising situations where he actually showed someone pity. He once caught the act of a strung-out, down-on-her-luck nightclub singer that he knew from some time ago. She was greatly in debt. He chastised her for her self-pity, but later called her debtor and had her debt canceled. His unusual kind act was unfortunately of no consequence, as she killed herself (due to his castigation) before she found out.
In another case, he tracked down a firebug who had been burning down his warehouses. It was just a teen who wanted to see the world burn, and Grendel let him go, empathizing with his motives. It reminded him of a time when he almost killed the kids at his school by getting them to dance in a sprinkler that sprayed gasoline; however, instead of burning them, he decided to simply intimidate them by showing them his lit lighter.
In a book written by Argent's associate Captain Wiggins, he told a story about how a family schemed to control the diamond market and cut Rose out of his share of the illegal profits. Rose heard about their scheme and showed up to kill the father, whom he assumed was in charge of the scheme. The father died of a heart attack before Rose could kill him. Argent arrived, and they battled. Rose caught him off guard by tossing a glass at him, and managed to get in a hit or two before setting the building on fire and escaping. This story may be true, or Wiggins may have made it up.
Behold the Devil
Grendel temporarily loses his edge, meets a real devil, and is confronted with his legacy.
At one point, Grendel began to feel uneasy, like he was being watched. The feeling continued to grow over many days, he started slipping up and making mistakes, something he would normally never do. For instance, he misspelled a word in his journal, and when he simultaneously threw three darts, one of them landed just outside the bullseye.
Unfortunately this came at a time when his mob underlings decided to cause some trouble. Rose had to kill a whole roomful of one of his subordinate gangs, and then killed two other lieutenants from other gangs. In the end, these murders made his other subordinates more fearful and loyal to him.
He started to look for solace in his relationships with Larry Stohler and Stacy, but Larry was beginning to wonder what was up with Grendel's lack of focus, and even Stacy was unable to make him feel completely at ease. At the same time, the reporter Lucas Ottoman and the detective Liz Sparks were hounding him closely, trying to catch him.
Rose decided to take a personal hand in his business and watched over a drug deal with a Korean gang, but Argent showed up. They fought and Grendel taunted him with poetry. Argent eventually got knocked down and took out his anger on Grendel's underlings, killing them all. Rose lost the drugs and ordered the Koreans to pay for them. However, when it came time to make the drop, they tried to blow him up. However, at the scene of the explosion, he found his first clue about his mysterious follower: a bloody clawprint that was clearly inhuman.
He went looking for Toro, the voodoo master he had met previously. After killing a horde of his zombie guards, he found him and paid him for his help. Toro told him the footprint belonged to a Dire-Imp that was obsessed with his violent acts. He gave him some relics and told him how to catch the demon.
Hunter found the Korean mob boss and his martial-arts-master guards, and killed them swiftly. Then he used their blood to summon the demon. The demon was angry to be brought to the corporeal plane and obscenely screamed at Hunter. The Dire-Imp called him the "Sparkly One," and "the lordly one who rules on Earth and would refuse to serve in Hell," a possible reference to the actual Grendel spirit. He said that he had been following Hunter all his life and helped him become who he is, even killing Jocasta Rose. He also said that Hunter was not the first Grendel. (Much of this is also backed up in a story narrated by the adult, insane Stacy. However, Matt Wagner has said in an interview that the Dire-Imp was probably lying about all of this.) Rose is furious to hear both that the demon was involved in Jocasta's death and that his achievements were not completely self-created, and broke the magic circle. The demon escaped, and stung him with its poisonous tail.
Hunter had a prophetic dream in which he saw all the future Grendels from Christine Spar to Orion Assante. He saw his legacy being one of worldwide violence and insanity. He could not accept it. He wrote about all this in his journal, but unable to deal with it, he threw the pages into the fire. Unknown to him, Larry pulled them out and kept them. Much later, Larry read them and destroyed them, leaving the world without any evidence or warning about what was to come.
The demon, however, left him alone after that. Hunter, finally confident once again, caught up on old business. He found the reporter Lucas Ottoman, who actually managed to discover his secret identity, and killed him. Detective Sparks showed up right at that moment and shot at him. He deflected the bullet back at her eye, and she was badly burned in the fire he set to destroy the apartment. He went back to his normal routine of crime.
The beginning of the end for Hunter, but his legacy passes on.
With things going well for Rose, he decided to expand his territory. His goal was to control all organized crime from Montreal to Cleveland to Canada. He would remain in New York City, where he would run everything. Larry returned from a fourteen month information gathering trip with much to talk about. They decided to unleash their plan. Rose and Larry did much of their planning and working at Rose's own home. After Stacy was put into bed they would have the opportunity to work alone, without anything to bother them. Larry arrived one evening with recording equipment which would be used to record a message as Grendel to be delivered to various police precincts.
What neither Rose nor Larry realized was that Stacy had stayed up late that night to see what Larry had brought. She overheard the voice of her Uncle Hunter, in a cold tone that she barely recognized calling himself Grendel. On the night of the "Seaboard Massacre" Grendel ordered the deaths of 23 major criminal heads all along the eastern coast. They were killed in a variety of ways to show Grendel's easy access to the most dangerous men in the country: they were shot, poisoned, pushed off of heights, drowned, hanged, stabbed, beaten, electrocuted, and killed in car crashes and car bombs. Grendel had the recordings of himself flown to all of the major cities where the massacre took place, and each copy was phoned in to the police quickly after the murders took place. His message made it clear that he was in total control: "...When Grendel calls, all must listen. It was I who summoned the Seaboard Caesars, and as all can see, they had no choice but to answer....Where before there were Caesars, there is now only Pharaoh....All roads now lead to Grendel." In this one move Grendel was able to spread his dominion even farther.
Meanwhile, Stacy sought to find out more about Grendel, and attempted to do research on Grendel at her school. When this failed to turn up any information, she was able to find out everything she needed at the local library. What she found was the darkness that Rose hid as Grendel, and she again fell into depression. At the time Rose just ignored it and expected it to go away. These days he was extremely busy ruling the entire east coast, and didn't see as much of Stacy. Instead, Rose hired a nanny that would spend time with Stacy. Stacy did not want this for herself, as an outsider would only get in the way of her plans. During a walk Stacy pushed her nanny off a pier. She could not swim and quickly drowned. Ironically, Rose began to notice a positive change in Stacy.
Stacy continued to spy on Rose and eventually learned where his safe was located. After gaining access to the safe she located a device which would allow her to break into it. Within the safe she found detailed accounts of the true dealings of Hunter Rose, and the secrets that he had kept from her. She learned from his journals that Rose had poisoned Barry Palumbo, and that Barry's girlfriend was framed for a crime that she did not commit. Still unknown to Rose, Stacy began to plot out his demise. In order to do this she would use Argent as a weapon against Grendel.
With access to all of Grendel's notes, ledgers, and journals, Stacy had access to all of his personal and business dealings. She began to phone in anonymous tips to Argent's private line. Argent made good on the information, and left a bloody trail through Grendel's criminal empire. Rose began to become angry and paranoid, not understanding how Argent could seemingly predict his moves before they were even planned.
One evening Stacy set the final wheels of her plan in motion. She made a call as herself to Argent's private line, screaming and crying. She told Argent that Grendel had kidnapped her. Despite a lack of contact, Argent still cared greatly for Stacy, and was enraged. Minutes later she phoned him again as the anonymous contact with information. Argent found one of Grendel's counterfeiting operations, slaughtering everyone inside except for one man, who delivered a message to Grendel. When Grendel received this message he called Argent and the two angrily arranged a meeting on the roof of the masonic temple.
Grendel met Argent alone for this final battle. After it was over, they were both seriously wounded. Hunter unmasked himself, and they spent some time talking about their respective origins and relationships. They had both been shaped by the love of a dead woman, and both loved Stacy. Rose compared their personal philosophies, saying that they were very much alike, and that they had probably racked up comparable bodycounts, but Argent hotly disputed any similarity. Rose saw himself as the epitome of skill and grace, and Argent as the paragon of brutality and might. Ultimately, Rose said, "you growl with remorse, whilst I laugh with disdain."
When the police came to the scene later they discovered Argent, badly wounded and paralyzed from a spinal injury. Nearby they also discovered the slain body of Grendel. Hunter Rose's death was made public and his identity as Grendel became known. This would not, however, be the end of Grendel.
Stacy would go on to be institutionalized, and was later raped by her husband, who then killed himself. The child of this union, Christine Spar, eventually contacted her mother. She found the location where Stacy hid the journals and logs of Grendel, and she went on to take up the identity of Grendel herself. While Rose died in his fateful battle against Argent, the spirit of Grendel would continue to live on in various incarnations for centuries to come. His skull became a holy relic during the era of the Grendel-Khan, centuries later, with multiple story arcs centered on it.
Powers, Abilities, and Accomplishments
Hunter Rose possesses above genius level intelligence, due to a genetic mutation which allowed him to use a greater than normal percentage of his brain. He possesses what he describes as almost total recall. When he was four, he had memorized the phone book for several counties; at six, he could quote every line of Shakespeare; at eight, he had written numerous plays, short stories, and novels. He was described as having no trouble learning anything he tried, whether it was fencing, crime, or writing: whatever he decided to undertake, he could almost immediately do at a world-class level. He beat the world's best fencers at fourteen; he became a top-level hitman and criminal at seventeen; he became master of all crime on the east coat of the U.S. only a few years later.
Brilliant, charismatic, and frightening, as Grendel he is also a skilled leader. His level of perfection at everything he does is so high that he is completely stunned when he makes a misspelling, or misses with one of three simultaneously-thrown darts.
Physically, Rose possesses peak human agility, speed, reflexes, and stamina. He is fast and agile enough to dodge bullets with ease, and to regularly outpace and outperform the superhumanly-enhanced Argent; on multiple occasions Grendel was able to leap to locations that Argent couldn't follow. He was also strong enough to hold a fat man in the air with only one arm.
He is an adept fighter, skilled in the use of a variety of weapons. He is particularly skilled with his weapon of choice, a staff with a forked blade on one end. He was capable of killing an entire room of mobsters before they could even react. He could deflect bullets fired at him from point blank range back at their shooter. On one occasion he threw the fork and speared the cigarette out of someone's mouth, and on another he used it to catch a cigarette that had fallen from several stories above. As an example of his skill, he was capable of tapping a small red ball on a string with the tip of a fencing foil for hours on end without ever missing--using either hand--as a young teen. He was able to cut off the fingers of a man pointing a gun at him from point blank range. His attacks were so fast and precise, and his blades so sharp, that he regularly cut off people's heads only to have the head remain sitting on the neck until something disturbed the body.
Grendel is an ingenious inventor and uses his skills to make his weaponry and himself as deadly as possible. After adopting the identity Grendel, Rose chose to arm himself with a staff with a forked blade at the end in order to continue the demonic imagery surrounding Grendel. The forked blade retracts into the hilt, so that he can use the staff as a normal walking stick as Hunter Rose. Along with being razor sharp, the blades can be electrified with the push of a button located on the hilt (the charge of which does not last very long). The staff also contains a radio transmitter. Despite the long, razor-sharp steel blade as well as the complex circuitry built into the staff it is completely undetectable by metal detectors or x-rays so that it can remain completely hidden until Grendel chooses to strike. The staff can also shoot out the blade, which is attached to a grappling line. It can shoot a line out of the blunt end as well.
His outfit also has several additional devices built in which aid him as Grendel. Special infrared lenses are carefully disguised in the eyes of his mask which give him the ability to see in the dark. His mask also projects tubes which insert into the nose and allow for a greatly heightened sense of smell, as well as protection against gas attacks. There is most likely a similar apparatus for hearing within the mask.
Hunter Rose wore a mask that will become the standard Grendel symbol over the ensuing centuries. It is black with large white angled eyes, with long white lines that start above the eyes and slash down below them. His mask also has a small white circular nose.
He wears make-up under his mask that replicates this black and white eye pattern.
He had a white streak in his otherwise black hair on the right side of his head. This streak would also pop up in some future Grendels, including Christine Spar and Orion Assante.
The identity of Grendel would begin as a creation of the the need for excitement and life within the tortured genius of Hunter Rose. As Rose had once seen in a demonic vision, however, the legacy of Grendel would not end with Rose's own death. Rose's legacy would lie dormant until the coming of age of Rose's granddaughter, Stacy Palumbo's daughter Christine Spar. Christine Spar would take up the mask and weapon of Grendel for different reasons than her "grandfather," but when she became Grendel, part of what made Rose what he was would grow to infect her as well.
By becoming Grendel, Rose would become more than he could have ever imagined. Starting with a crime-lord with a lust for violence and action, the mask and identity of Grendel would be worn by the abused, the hated and downtrodden. It would rise to the status of a social icon and grow to become the embodiment of the devil. It would be worn by madmen, kings, and warriors. Through all of its iterations and mutations, the Grendel legacy would grow and mutate through each who embraced it.
Hunter Rose decides to confront Batman in the crossover Batman/Grendel: Devil's Riddle/Devil's Masque two-issue series. Although it is a crossover, it fits into established Grendel continuity at the point where Argent has gone into hiding after being embarrassed by his public fall. Since characters from this series are also in the second Batman/Grendel crossover featuring Grendel Prime, and that second crossover is part of Grendel Prime's official continuity, it is possible that this series is also actually part of Hunter's (but not Batman's) continuity as well.
Hunter is bored, with no Argent to strive against, so he decides to take on Batman. He travels to Gotham, ostensibly to publicize his newest novel. There he meets Bruce Wayne and other members of the city's high-society. He decides to deface an ancient sphinx that is coming to Gotham, and poses as the Riddler in order to pull Batman into the case.
The one difficulty is finding out when the sphinx will arrive, which is highly secret. He blackmails and manipulates multiple innocent Gothamites, both as Hunter Rose and as Grendel, until he finds out. He forces one of them to pour acid down the sphinx's face, making it look like his own mask.
Grendel proves himself once again to be an almost merciless manipulator. He kills without hesitation, except for a child at the end. He also slaughters eleven members of the Gotham police department, who have him at point blank range, within seconds.
Batman pursues him the whole time, finding him to be a challenging foe, both mentally and physically. He never believes it is really the Riddler, because his riddles are a different style. However, Grendel tricks and traps Batman multiple times. The first time they meet, Grendel is able to sneak up Batman without detection and kicks him off a roof. The second time, they clash briefly but Grendel leads him on a chase and runs away, since his plan had not yet reached fruition. Batman remarks on his lightning speed. The third time, Batman manages to beat him in hand-to-hand combat after a lengthy fight, breaking his arm and pulling off his mask--only to find that he has replicated his mask on his face using make-up. Grendel then escapes.
In the end, Batman has managed to defeat Grendel physically, but Grendel has managed to pull off his public vandalism of the sphinx.
In the later Batman/Grendel crossover featuring Grendel Prime, Hunter Rose's skeleton is on display for a Gotham City exhibit about serial killers. Grendel Prime steals the skull for a mysterious ritual, desiring to contact Rose's spirit. However, Robin shoots the skull out of Grendel Prime's hands with an arrow, making a large hole in the forehead. The ritual is interrupted and Grendel Prime is sent back into the future. Batman puts Hunter's skull on display in the Batcave. This hole is also seen in some in-continuity Grendel stories set in the era of Grendel Prime, when Hunter's skull has been recovered. Hunter Rose also sees his skull with the hole in it when Rose is poisoned by a demon in Grendel: Behold the Devil.
Grendel vs the Shadow
Hunter Rose obtains an ancient Chinese scroll as part of his collection of historical artifacts, such as Aldous Huxley's glasses and Ernest Hemingway's typewriter. Reciting the spell on the scroll, he is transported back in time to the 1930s in a parallel universe: the universe of the Shadow.
Rose decides to stay there and take over that era's criminal world as a new kind of challenge. The New York underworld is controlled by five families, and the head of the main family is dying. When he is gone, there will be a power vacuum that might allow another gang to take over everything.
Grendel focuses his attention on the Valenti family first, killing some of their men to get their attention. He simultaneously joins New York high society and begins writing a new novel, Gomorrah Highway.
He confronts the Valenti leadership and cows them into submission. The leader’s alluring daughter, Sofia, is also part of the high society scene that he has met as Hunter, and he becomes intrigued with her.
He starts attacking the other gangs to get their loyalty as well, but the Shadow, who has heard about their activities, confronts him. They battle, and Grendel is treated to a stunning loss; the Shadow even takes his fork before Grendel is forced to run off.
Undeterred, and in fact excited by the chance of a new worthy opponent, Grendel continues his attacks on the other gangs. He eventually forces a meet and gets them to all join him. He creates a new golden era of gangsterdom, increasing their criminal reach far beyond what it was before, and many of the gangs enjoy his leadership. The exception is his original group, the Valentis, who are stubborn and independent.
Hunter continues appearing in high society and publishes his novel to great acclaim. He starts a romantic relationship with Sofia, the first since he swore never to do so again after Jocasta died. He even lets her learn his dual identity.
He also learns the identity of the Shadow, and follows him back to his lair, where they skirmish once more. Grendel regains his fork and leaves so that he can prolong their game.
Sofia convinces him to help her kill her father, leader of the Valentis. He does so, but it turns out she was just using him. She wants to blame him for killing her father so she can take over with her real boyfriend, Johnny Palumbo. Grendel is stunned that he let himself be manipulated like this. Before he can kill her, the Shadow interrupts and they fight once more. This time Grendel puts him down with his electric fork. Wounded, he escapes in the Shadow’s autogyro, and recites the spell to return back to his own time.
He notes that there is no record of him being in the past; the novel he wrote does not exist. He compares Sofia’s treachery with the innocence of Stacy, whom he believes would never betray him, showing off his arrogance and his blind spot for women.
Presumably, in this alternate Shadow universe, Johnny Palumbo marries Sofia, and their progeny would either include Barry Palumbo or Stacy Palumbo’s parents, and thereby Stacy herself, and thereafter her own daughter, Christine Spar. Since Hunter slept with Sofia, it is possible that in fact he would be the father of this bloodline.