Retro Review: Grimjack #1

First Comics published the comic book; Grimjack # 1, with a cover date of August 1984.  The character was co-created by writter John Ostrander and artist Timothy Truman.  The character first appeared as a back up feature in the comic book; Starslayer.  This comic book was first published by Pacific Comics (issues # 1 – 6) and then by First Comics beginning with issue # 7.  The Grimjack back-up stories appeared in issues # 10 through # 17, beginning in the story, “Mortal Gods” in issue number 10.  Grimjack also appeared in issue # 18 of Starslayerin the main story, before moving to his own book the next month!

The premiere issue of Grimjack sported a very nice cover by artist Tim Truman, which I’ve posted.  The story is entitled; “A Shade of Truth” and opens with a suicide of a young woman.  The scene shifts to Munden’s Bar, which is owned by John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and ex-child gladiator, better known as the hero for hire, Grimjack!  Munden’s Bar sits in Cynosure, the pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect and both magic and technology, as well as, humans and aliens intermingle!

In walks a woman, who is very out of place for Munden’s, she turns out to be the girl’s mother, who is looking to hire someone to get to the truth in the matter of her daughter’s suicide.  Grimjack saves the refined mom from a couple of toughs and they enter into an agreement for Grimjack to investigate the suicide, but he has to agree to have her tag along.

They visit the ex-boyfriend, who points them to the Candyman, a notorious drug dealer in “the Pit”, the slum area of Cynosure, but first they visit the father, who is divorced from Grimjack’s client.  Grimjack has a run-in with the giant, bird-man Krupp who advised his client’s ex-husband.  He is given a warning by the ex-husband’s new wife and then they’re off to see the Candyman!

Things don’t go well, but Grimjack figures out a couple of things, like the fact that the girl that commited suicide was hooked on drugs and had written something down in a missing diary.  They search out the ex-boyfriend again and find him dead, and the diary in the hands of Krupp.  Krupp explains the reason the girl commited suicide, at his urging, to save the father, as the “bad guys” were using the druggie daughter to control the father!

The Candyman and his goons arrive and shoot Krupp and then turn to kill Grimjack and his client, but Krupp proves more difficult to kill that they think and he saves them, only to then turn on Grimjack.  Grimjack saves the day with a javelin and a high voltage electical box!

Another thing of note, was that Ostrander originally had planned to use Grimjack as a character to be featured in a series of prose stories/novels, set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago.  It never happened, but he did appear in the fourth chapter of the 1986 Amber nover, Blood of Amber, written by author Roger Zelazny.  Zelazny introduced a character named, “Old John”, who works as an emissary for the King of Amber, this character is described as having a “nasty-looking scar running both above and below his left eye” and a “nasty grin”, wearing a dark feathered hat!  Zelazny was an acknowledged fan of the comic from the beginning of its run!

And lastly, it has been reported that Grimjack actually made his very first comic book appearance in the back-up story in First Comics’ Warp # 5; “The Dogs of War“, featuring the character Sargon, Mistress of War.  The story opens in Munden’s bar and Gaunt appears in shadow in one panel.  He wasn’t identified in that story and it was years later that Ostrander revealed this little known first appearance!

The comic features very nice Tim Truman artwork, that he both pencilled and inked and a top-notch full issue story by John Ostrander.  It’s a definite hard-boiled detective triller with a SF background and a couple of creative twists to the story.  I give it four (4) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings.  Re-reading this first issue makes me want to go back and re-read the series, beginning with those back-up stories in Starslayer.

About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.

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