Review: Grendel, Kentucky by Jeff McComsey and Tommy Lee Edwards

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cover of Grendel, Kentucky by Jeff McComsey

Grendel, Kentucky by Jeff McComsey and Tommy Lee Edwards
Upshot (March 2021)
96 pages; $9.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Grendel, Kentucky by Jeff McComsey is an incredible graphic novel that takes the Beowulf saga and modernizes it. The story focuses on Marnie, who leads the all-women biker gang The Harlots. She’s called back to her hometown of Grendel for the funeral of her adoptive father, Clyde, who was supposedly killed by a bear. When she finds out the truth, which is much worse, she seeks vengeance for her father and learns about what it means to be a family and what it means to hold on to family secrets.

McComsey’s tale is brilliantly told. While he rushes slightly at the beginning to get all the characters introduced, he soon finds his pacing and lets the narrative take control. It’s a really solid storyline that spans generations, and McComsey is able to weave those threads into a tight tale that echoes the Beowulf saga.

On top of that, the art of Tommy Lee Edwards really serves to promote the underlying mood and themes of this collection. There’s a rawness to his lines and an edginess to his shadows that lets readers know that something is off kilter in this narrative. This is highlighted by Giovanna Niro’s colorwork, which is set in tones of green and brown that emphasizes the rural nature of the tale as well as the isolation felt by the town. 

Grendel, Kentucky is a fast read that fans of mythic horror will truly enjoy. It’s a clever retelling of the Beowulf myth coupled with biker gangs, drug smuggling, and a town that’s followed questionable leadership in the name of survival and is now caught in a bargain they can ill afford to keep. Horror fans are very much encouraged to pursue this book. 

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