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Sunday Slugfest: American McGee's Grimm #1

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2009
By: Thom Young

Dwight MacPherson
Grant Bond
IDW Publishing
Editor’s Note: American McGee’s Grimm #1 will be in stores on April 29, 2009. It is currently available for pre-order.

The pirate known as Grimm invades a superhero comic. He gives a team of loser super-villains a power upgrade so they can defeat and slaughter a team of overly upright superheroes.

Troy Stith:

J. A. Crestmere:

Troy Stith:

I wasn’t familiar with the American McGee’s Grimm computer game (developed by Spicy Horse), but I quickly found out all about it. I did a little research after I opted to take a look at this advanced issue from IDW. I found out that Grimm was a dwarf that wreaked havoc on fairy tales, and that his chaos was coming to the comic world. I was excited to see what Dwight MacPherson and Grant Bond had cooked up for the dwarf. Grimm’s first stop is the world of goody-goody superheroes and the lame-brained villains they go up against story after story.

I won’t be going into too many details since this is an advance review. I will say, though, that I like the devilish dwarf named Grimm. His pessimistic view on all things happy and mushy rings true. His rant on comic book heroes is a perfect depiction of today’s market of "huge" events and "epic" arcs. MacPherson seems to have a great grasp on Grimm’s character, propelling him through the story with the utmost disgusting grace. Even though I found some of the dialogue and events juvenile at times, I’m sure MacPherson was keeping true with Grimm’s character in the game.

The heroes and villains in the story are all hilarious parodies of the modern men in tights--from their names to their actions, these caricatures of the genre are dead on. This was my first time reading MacPherson’s writing and a couple of days later I found out that he’s on Den of Geek’s "Ten comic book creators to watch out for"--which only intrigued me further to find more of his work.

Bonds does a great job illustrating this tale. I really like how he goes from Grimm’s 3D-esque world, to the flat classic looking comic world. He uses a nice range of colors to depict the mood of each scene--choosing just the right color to make his characters pop in the panel. Bond also does a great job bringing MacPherson’s heroes and villains to life.

By the time I was done reading this issue, I had become a fan of the dirty bastard Grimm, and I am looking forward to see what genre he will be invading in issue #2.

J. A. Crestmere:

I hope that my first review of this kind gets people talking even if not all of them agree with me. My sensibilities are more tied into film than comics, and I think a veteran comic reader would have a completely different take on this book.

It isn’t appropriate to discuss American McGee's Grimm within the context of superhero comics. The sensibility, style, and approach of the book are so radically different that it should be seen more within relation to the stuff on Adult Swim than to the latest eight-title crossover from Marvel or DC.

This book is Fractured Fairy Tales for the Adult Swim set--with a heavy influence from Tales from the Crypt (the TV series not the comic). Grimm works perfectly as an attack on the clichéd superhero story.

For instance, the artwork in the superhero story within Grimm is intentionally amateurish. It is used to show the artifice of the superhero genre. The super-people are adequate, and often clever, analogs for any number of existing comic characters.

In contrast, the bookend scenes in the story are drawn with a blocky animated style that reminds me of Flapjack and Invader Zim, and yet the aesthetic works as well for a comic as it does for animation. Simply put, everything about this book works flawlessly.

American McGee's Grimm deserves a high rating not only for its quality but because it has a perfect place within the larger culture. The familiar style and sensibility are bolstered by the name of celebrity video game designer, American McGee, whose association with the comic creates a perfect opportunity for a crossover hit. We can only hope that the video game connection means that this book will end up in the hands of twice as many people as it otherwise would on its own (and it probably will).

It also has a perfect place within the artistic zeitgeist as metafiction, cultural adaptation, and fictional revisionism have made a huge impact both critically and commercially (as it looks now, the favorite to win the Best Picture Oscar tonight is an Indian take on Charles Dickens). The hunger for it is only going to grow as increasingly globalized and sophisticated readers become more comfortable with the idea that the old tropes and narratives are no longer sufficient and need to be revised because they work better when they are more attuned to issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, religion, and whatever other categories of identity will doubtlessly be added to this list.

Buy the bloody book.

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