Grendel vs. The Shadow Crossover

Posted: September 27, 2015 in Crossover Reviews, Crossovers
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Grendel vs the Shadow pits the 1980‘s independent comics character against the double pistol wielding pulp hero of the 1930’s. The two characters meet via mystical time travel. In the Shadow’s time, the last descendant of Genghis Khan (The Shadow’s traditional arch enemy) smuggled a sacred burial urn into New York. The Shadow shut down the operation and the urn sank to the bottom of New York Harbor.

Decades later some treasure hunters find it and sell it to Hunter Rose/Grendel. For those unfamiliar with the character, Grendel is like an evil version of the Green Hornet. Grendel wears a black mask and fights the mafia, while actually running a crime syndicate himself.

The scene where the treasure hunters meet Hunter Rose has some Easter eggs, but they’re Easter eggs relating to history. Hunter Rose has collected various items from history such as a Hemingway typewriter, Jesse James’s gun belt, Al Capone’s cigar, and the armor worn by Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

Once Hunter obtains the urn he finds a Chinese scroll inside of it identified as the Eternity Codex. Hunter reads the incantation and finds himself sent back in time to 1932 New York. One of the first things he notices is that the Twin Towers aren’t visible, so Rose’s “present” in this story is presumably before 2001. A movie theater marquee advertises the 1932 film Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.

Realizing his situation, he decides to make the best of it. Knowing that prohibition is about to end the next year, he starts his own criminal organization that focuses on gambling, prostitution, and narcotics. While on his crime spree he attracts the attention of the Shadow, who upon hearing the name Grendel notes the connection to the famous Beowulf poem.

Meanwhile Grendel’s civilian identity establishes himself as a literary figure. At fancy parties he drops several names from literature and jokes that Hemingway might kill himself.

Issue one of the series ends with the two costumed characters about to meet. Issue two opens with their battle as Grendel manages to overcome the Shadow’s hypnotic powers. The Shadow gets bloodied during the fight but wins the encounter as Grendel runs away.

Later they both meet in their civilian identities and recognize each other instantly. As the conflict carries out Hunter Rose gets a new love interest, the daughter of a mafia don who provides her own plot twist (Grendel’s lost love Jocasta is mentioned). Meanwhile there’s a subplot between the Shadow and his assistant, Margo Lane. Margo comes across a means to do something else with her life, which raises the question of whether or not Margo and the Shadow need each other.

One issue with any Shadow story is that he never seems to be in any real danger. He laughs, comes out of the darkness, and shoots everyone with the greatest of ease. Grendel is not superhuman, but is at least able to give the Shadow a bloody nose, which is more than most gangsters had been able to do. He also is able to disarm the Shadow, forcing him into an interesting backup plan.

With Grendel the Shadow faces the idea that crime will never be wiped out. The story ends with things returning to normal for both characters. The future existence of Grendel does not discourage the Shadow, rather it strengthens his resolve to stamp out the bitter disease that is crime.

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