By: Adam Basciano

The issue introduces us to Cole Cash, a con artist who makes his living by conning business men all over the country.  After his latest successful con he contacts Gretchen, his accomplice and love interest.  They make plans to meet up in San Juan to celebrate their success but Cole is abducted by mysterious assailants.  He wakes up in an abandoned warehouse to find an alien like creature, in some sort of life-support containment chamber.  If that didn’t freak him out enough as it is, the creature was rambling on (via telepathy, I think) using words like, disturbed, transfer, and devour.  Mr. Cash isn’t stupid and makes a break for the door, but is intercepted before he can escape.  The man at the door, is either possessed by one of these aliens, or an alien disguised in human form.  Either way, he is none to happy about the escape attempt.  Cole goes into self-preservation mode, and beats him to death.  Cole escapes, but can’t outrun the voices in his head.  So he boards a plane with the intention of meeting up with Gretchen.  Unfortunately for him, the voices in his head are getting louder and his captives are using passengers on the plane to try to kill him.  So he makes matters worse by taking the plane hostage, forcing them to open the emergency exit while in mid-flight.  Cole and his would be assassin struggle and fall out of the plane, eventually landing in the ocean.  When Cole reaches land, his first thought is to call Gretchen.  She informs him that he has been missing for seventeen weeks.  Cole ends up in a cemetery, dons a make shift mask and vows to take on his unknown pursuers.  Grifter is born, but his actions on the plane have branded him a terrorist.  This has caught the attention of the Feds, who are hot on his trail, including Special Operations Office Max Cash…his brother!

Grifter is a character that has made his way to the DCU via Wildstorm.  I have no idea if this new book carries over any traits from previous versions of the character, as this is my first exposure to him.  This book is another prime example of why I’m in favour of this relaunch by DC Comics.  In addition to reinvigorating its pantheon of great superheroes, the relaunch allows readers to experience a whole new set of stories and characters that they may ordinarily ignore.  This issue doesn’t read like a superhero story.  It’s very much rooted in the suspense and mystery genre.  Nathan Edmondson is the credited writer, but if you didn’t know that you’d probably swear that this story was penned by J.J. Abrams.  The issue has the “Who done it” vibe of “Alias”, and the “What the hell is going on here” motif that define “Lost” and “Fringe.”  Two things that are especially intriguing as the series continues are the main character and the alien entity.  I believe there is more to Cole Cash then just being a con man.  I don’t think that he’s a character whose life is defined in black and white.  I think he is a guy who lives in shades of grey.  In terms of the aliens, who are they, and what’s their end game?

The art is just as good as the writing.  Cafu’s art has a combination of being sleek and detailed.  It almost looks like Ivan Reis and Renato Guedes art styles combined into one book.  So many images caught my attention in this book.  The closeup shots of the envelope of money and the briefcase full of playing cards, felt as though it was transitioning from the comic book world to real life .  There was also that grand scale fight scene on the plane and in mid-air.  That couldn’t have looked more epic if it was on an IMAX screen.  The look of the alien was also quite intriguing.  It had a liquid/electrical based look to it, which is different to the standard alien look that has become typical to audiences today. Cafu furthers that J.J. Abrams influence, as our main character looks quite like Josh Holloway who played Sawyer on “Lost.”

Three weeks into the relaunch and the quality of the books seems to be rising.  “Grifter” continues that trend of upward momentum.  In fact, I think this book could be used as a blueprint to attract new readers to a new book and concept.  This issue checks off all the right boxes.  It has strong art, a compelling character, and tells a captivating story.  For that reason, “Grifter #1”  is my pick for surprise hit of the week.

Overall Grade: 9/10

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