Major Story Arcs
At the young age of 14, Susan is the Grendel appointed to be the personal bodyguard of Crystal Kennedy, stepdaughter of Orion Assante. Two years, later, when Crystal's stepbrother Jupiter Assante is kidnapped by Grendel Prime, Crystal is homebound with Susan at the Dakota complex. There Susan is treated as an assistant, deflecting calls from her mother and training Crystal in hand to hand combat. Eventually Susan's relationship with Crystal begins to evolve into a more romantic relationship.
Jupiter is believed to be dead, so Crystal's mother announces the arranged marriage of her daughter. Crystal talks Susan into helping her escape. Susan is now 17 years old, and 6'5" tall. The two women kill the remaining guards and escape the Dakota complex. They travel north towards Canada. They move first by land, then steal a boat and head farther into the Canadian wilderness by sea. In the Canadian wilderness they meet Benjamin Martel, a hermit who was a political analyst during the reign of Orion Assante. Benjamin invites the two to his cabin for food and rest. Over time Crystal falls in love with Benjamin as well as Susan. Susan, unfortunately, falls into a more peripheral role within the three-way romantic relationship.
After ten years of living in the wilderness Crystal discovers her brother Jupiter after his rebel band crosses the Bering Straight back into the Americas. Susan and Crystal join the cause to assist Jupiter and Grendel Prime in taking back the power that belonged to Jupiter. They travel south once again. Susan splits up with Cystal to recapture her glory with Grendel, and helps Grendel take back the Sun House and gain access to Orion Assante's great weapon the Sun Disc. Jupiter takes on his father's role of Grendel Khan to rule most of the world.
Crystal forsakes Susan and marries Azif, the Khan's Minister of Clan Relations. Susan is relegated to an administrative position as head of security at the Dakota house until she becomes disenchanted, feeling that Crystal has become as manipulative as her mother, and leaves.
After years of seclusion and having lost her way, Susan travels to her hometown. Things aren't as she remembers them. A gang of thugs known as Orion's Bastards now inhabits the town running drugs, prostitutes, gambling, and other criminal matters. Graffiti and garbage abound, and dead bodies hang from the transmitter-tower as a warning to any who may dare cross the Bastards.
Susan sees the people with their drugs and petty conflicts and finds them pathetic. Upon entering town Susan heads to a bar for a drink. There she meets a face from her past, Avril. Once a little girl named Martha, Avril is now a beautiful prostitute. Avril barely recognized Susan, and Susan did not recognize Avril. When Avril leaves the bar a few of the Bastards, including Sime, are standing by her bike waiting to give her trouble. They don't know who they are dealing with. Susan easily takes down them and heads off with Avril.
Sime heads back to the castle that they inhabit and tells their leader, Buster the Large, what had happened. Back at Avril's home, Susan and Avril relax and Susan describes the identity crisis she had been going through in the Khan's administration. She has also had extensive tattooing all over her body, reflecting her new dangerous persona. Avril recollects a time when the two were young and Susan had hurt Avril by being embarrassed by their mutual affection. Reconciling the past, they make love. When Avril admits to Susan that she is a member of the Bastards, and is hooked on their drugs, Susan promises to take her away. After convincing Avril to leave with her, Susan leaves for supplies while Avril packs.
Susan does not know that the two were being watched by the Bastards. While she is gone, Buster and his thugs show up at Avril's home. Susan comes back to find that Avril has been severely beaten, and she dies in Susan's arms. After burying Avril's body, Susan finds herself consumed by revenge. She suits up and goes after Buster. She finds a couple of the Bastards and beats Buster's location out of them. Susan then fights her way through any of the Bastards that dared to come between her and her goal. She finds Buster pumped up and consumed by the drug Grendel. Buster takes a massive does of the pills and bites off his own finger. As Buster shouts at her she walks towards him. Before she can get to him he stumbles backward, bleeding out of every orifice. Buster falls down dead of an overdose due to his own decadence. Susan hangs his body from the transmission tower in place of one that was there when she arrived, and rides back out of town.
Susan is a very skilled warrior. She is trained as a Grendel and was head of Security for the Grendel-Khan's Dakota retreat. She is knowledgeable about wilderness survival skills. She is capable of defeating numerous men in hand-to-hand combat simultaneously. She is also skilled with firearms.
In Other Media
Grendel: Past Prime is an novel, written by Greg Rucka and heavily illustrated by Matt Wagner. It is considered canon within the overall Grendel mythos. It focuses on Susan's search for Grendel-Prime, as alluded to in Batman/Grendel II, and takes place after Homecoming, although it has several flashbacks to the period between Warchild and Homecoming.
Susan is made head of security at the Grendel-Khan's retreat in the Dakotas. During this time she gets a swirling purple tribal tattoo all over her body. This, along with her green hair and white skin (created by genetic manipulation, and first used by her great-great-grandmother), marks her as a full member of the 200-member Veraghen Grendel clan, which has been tasked with protecting the Grendel-Khan. She works there for five years, but neither Crystal nor Jupiter ever visits the retreat. Susan eventually quits after realizing that she has been put out to pasture by Crystal so that she can marry her new beau, Azif. Unfortunately, just weeks after Susan quits, Jupiter finally visits and is assassinated. All of the other Veraghen Grendels ritually commit suicide in honor of the Khan except for Susan.
With the Khan's assassination, the Khanate splits into many warring territories, and the once-honorable Grendel clans become self-interested, greedy, and violent. Susan decides to go in search of Grendel-Prime, whom she believes is the one remaining example of what a true Grendel is supposed to be. This is the period in which Homecoming takes place. After three years (she is now 35 years old), her search leads her to the Himalayas. There she searches blindly from town to town until she is waylaid by some wandering Grendel-pretenders. One of them carries a laser sword, which she recognizes as belonging to Grendel-Prime. She takes it and the brigand tells her it came from a nearby village.
She goes to the village and finds the sword's seller: a woman named Mace. Mace got it from a boy in the mountains. Mace is against any Grendel because of how they pillage the everyday people, but after Susan stands up to the local Grendel clan, Mace agrees to help. She leads Susan into the mountains. They find the boy's village but it has been destroyed by a group of anti-Khan, anti-Grendel rebels. They track the remaining populace to a hiding spot in the mountains, and find the boy's father. He explains that the boy is now dead, but found the sword far in the mountains, and gives them a map.
The rebels, who are heavily armed, show up near the villagers' hideout, but then leave as suddenly as they came. Mace and Susan follow the map. During this time, Mace and Susan start a physical relationship, and become passionately involved. However, once Susan admits that she is looking for Grendel-Prime (up until then she never mentioned who owned the sword), Mace lashes out at her angrily. To Mace, Grendel-Prime represents all that is bad about Grendels and the Khan. He stands for the empire that forced the people into an autocratic, violent, unfeeling society. To Susan, however, he is a bringer of peace, hope, and honor. Mace leaves Susan.
Susan finally finds the temple where Grendel-Prime has been hiding out. However, she finds that he is utterly still--he intentionally let his power run out, essentially committing suicide after the death of Jupiter. Desperate, Susan pulls his armor off. It is clear that all the cyborg's flesh has rotted. Over days, she cuts off the dead flesh and tries to fix and recharge him.
The rebel force arrives outside the temple, and now Mace, who had always sympathized with their aims, is with them. Mace tries to get Susan to join them, but Susan won't do it. They attack, and Susan fends them off for a while, but there are too many. Then suddenly, Grendel-Prime wakes up and slaughters the whole group, including Mace. Once the battle is over, she asks Grendel-Prime to join her and show the rest of the world what a Grendel is supposed to be. He refuses. Her last hope gone, she cuts off her hair and prepares to kill herself. Inspired by her sense of duty, Grendel-Prime stops her and agrees to help.
However, he needs more repairs. They go on a quest to find Doctor One, who was one of the scientists who originally built him. They search many locations over four months, during which time Susan has Grendel-Prime slowly remove her Veraghen clan tattoos. She no longer feels like she has allegiance to anyone but Grendel-Prime. They find Doctor One and Susan helps him rebuild and improve Grendel-Prime. Doctor One is impressed with her technical abilities.
She is contacted by the rebel group again, and their leader, Barabbas, tries to recruit her, but she refuses once more. The next day she and Grendel-Prime return to Doctor One for more repairs, but he is gone. The rebel group shows up instead and attacks. Susan is badly wounded and Grendel-Prime runs off. Susan feels abandoned.
She wakes up in prison. Weeks later, she is brought into Barabbas's presence, and once again he tries to get her to join them. She says no, so he schedules her for execution. Susan kills the guards and escapes in a daring maneuver, despite having almost no food or exxercise for weeks. She finds Grendel-Prime, who has been tracking her via a bug he implanted in her. He never abandoned her.
He names her as his squire, finally fulfilling her true role in life. They attack the rebel stronghold. Grendel-Prime slaughters most of the army, including a giant mech unit, and Susan kills Barabbas. After the battle, they go off together as a pair, paladin and squire, united in their sense of honor and duty. As related in Batman/Grendel II, she stays with him until she dies of old age, after which he never again has a human companion.