No villain offers quite the air of menace that Hunter Rose does. Created by Matt Wagner, the original Grendel was little more than a man, albeit one at the peak of physical intelligence and agility. But his story fleshed out over the years is nothing short of amazing.
I actually came to Grendel from the last major run of its original series: Grendel: Warchild. By that point Hunter Rose was long dead and the series was set in the distant future. Grendel Prime was a vastly different character, though one awesome in his own right.
[caption id="attachment_449" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bisley rocked this cover, even if it didn't feature Hunter Rose. Click for larger view.[/caption]
It would be another year before a friend and I found the two issue Batman/Grendel series, I knew I was instantly hooked. Here was the true Anti-Batman, a character as equally driven to run his own criminal enterprise as Batman is to stop it. The dichotomy between the two created an intense rivalry over two 48 page issues. I knew I needed to see more of this character.
Grendel: Black, White & Red was next and with it I got some of the first major looks into the mind of Hunter Rose. Little did I know it was actually some of Wagner’s first development of the inner workings of his brain as well.
By the time I found a copy of Devil By the Deed and the follow-up Red, White & Black limited series, I was a lifelong Grendel fan. And Hunter Rose was at the center of it. I even picked up the awesome Grendel figure Graphitti Designs put out a few years back.
[caption id="attachment_450" align="aligncenter" width="399"] The unpictured skull also makes him the best Shakespearean toy I own.[/caption]
I think the character sits in my mind so well because he's the perfect example of the villain as the protagonist. We root for Grendel even though we know how awful a person Hunter Rose is. He works so well as the antithesis to anything heroic he almost becomes a heroic figure in his quest. And even though we know from his very first story, he dies in the end at the hands of Argent, that doesn't mean we don't always want to learn more about him.
Every couple years Matt Wagner returns to his seminal creation, most recently in a great crossover with The Shadow in 2014. Ultimately the character will always remain as strong as his creator’s consistent work, so I rest assured I will enjoy as many Hunter Rose stories as Wagner has left to tell.