Before launching into the review of Grifter #3 I think it would be a good idea for those unfamiliar with the character of Cole Cash, aka Grifter, that I talk a little bit about his history. Grifter made his comic debut in 1992 in the title Wildcats created by Jim Lee and published by Image comics under Lee's Wildstorm banner. Early in his career Grifter was part of a team known as Team 7. During a mission Team 7 were intentionally exposed to an experimental chemical known as Gen Factor which activated a variety of psi powers among the Team 7 members. In Grifter's case that was telepathy and telekinesis. It also gave Grifter accelerated healing and slowed his age considerably. In the wildstorm universe 20 years passes from the time of exposure through to Grifters later adventures, and he still has the appearance and agility of a 20 something. With his powers and skills in hand to hand combat, firearms training and marksmanship, Grifter has battled against corruption and aliens. Recently Grifter appeared in the Flashpoint crossover event playing a somewhat significant role, saving Lois Lane and leading the London Resistance against the Amazon forces. Thanks to the DC relaunch this character has been given his own title focusing on his fight against a strange alien force. I'd recommend finding a recap of issues one and two before preceding further.
Ok, on with the review of Grifter #3: "On Ramp". The issue starts in the Pentagon. A briefing is being held discussing the reappearance of the alien creatures that Cash fought in issues one and two. Turns out the government had known of their existence five years based on two pieces of evidence, a photo of a blue alien walking away the corpse of a congressman that when found looked like the aliens but in human form. The officer giving the presentation speculates that Cash's involvement is pure coincidence which is rebuked by her superior stating that nobody the caliber of Cash is involved in chances. The officer in charge then states that their field operative has been given a final chance to apprehend Cash before a full unit is sent after him.
Next we cut to the title page where Grifter is in a red sports car being held at gun point by his brother Max, the military operative sent to capture Cole. The two exchange words in which Max saying that Cole has always thought he was bigger than what he was and that he has always been wrong. He then demands Cole remove the mask. Cole declines stating the mask is there to protect not only him but those he cares about including Max. Max accuses Cole of killing innocent civilians which Cole denies. Max says he isn't sure what Cole is capable of anymore and that he will shoot him if he does not surrender. Cole then says Max betrayed him by staying in the service after all that happened to him. They talk about loyalty with Cole saying they were both forged of the same fire but he got burned. Max calls him a murderer again saying he left everyone behind. To which Cole says "not everyone" leaving Max to say, there's a girl isn't there?
Cut to a train station outside of Gotham City where Gretchen is getting off of a train. She is approached by a police officer but attacks him and takes his gun. She makes a run for it but as she exits the building is hit in the stomach by a guy with a nightstick type weapon and thrown into the back of a car.
Back with Cole and Max, Max implies that Cole didn't leave Gretchen behind but killed her which pisses off Cole. Max having think he has caught his brother calls for the helicopter to come back down when Cole hears the aliens again saying "he is here, we have him." Max believes Cole is out of tricks but Cole turns and says that Max isn't the only one chasing him and he had to prove to Max he isn't crazy and this was the only way to do it. A man lands in the middle of the his fist smashing the road. It is one of the aliens screaming "I've found you!" Max attempts to attack it but is swatted away sending his gunfire at the helicopter. Grifter shoots the alien in the eye and runs towards Max as he sees the helicopter headed towards him. While this is going on another alien in a human body is egging on his comrade prompting the alien to grab Grifter to stop him from getting to Max. The helicopter crashes killing Max.
The alien now falling out of his human shell resumes the attack on Grifter. Grifter in a rage over Max's death begins firing at the alien point blank gunning it down. Grifter tells the creature it went after the wrong Cash brother. It tells him that humans all look the same prompting Cole to pull back his Grifter mask back on and tell it "this is a face your kind will remember" before killing it. As the other alien is trying to get away Grifter stops it calling it by its name (Tsavo) which unsettles the creature who didn't realise Grifter could hear their conversations. Grifter gets in the car, gun pointed to the head of the creature and checks on the car GPS to see where it came from and tells it to drive back to where it came from, looking to get some answers and to find out who the creatures are working for.
We cut to elsewhere where Gretchen is tied to a chair. The people holding her ask about Cole and she tells them to go to hell. The female says to her, "that's where I'm from, Miss Reese. I'd be glad to show you around." and kicks her into an underground tunnel. And that's where we end it.
I'm really liking this series. I was a fan of Wildcats back in the day and always liked Grifter. When I found out that DC was picking this series up as part of the New 52 I wondered how much of the old wildstorm universe mythology of Grifter was going to be held in tact. The extent of the backstory is yet to be truly established but with other more high profile series getting complete history makeovers. I took this series as a brand new take on the character. I'm glad I did. I am truly enjoying this series of Grifter. It has a great mix of action, character development, mystery, sci-fi and a little horror element that mixes really well together. The story is very well paced and well written. The dialogue is spot on and I'm really liking the fact that there are a few unanswered questions, especially for new readers to the character. The art is really good but, I can't help but think the artist draws an unmasked Cole Cash reminds of Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy or Swayer from Lost. Anyhow I digress, the look of the alien creatures is really cool and the colors for them really make them stand out from other creatures in the DCU. I can't recommend this enough to anyone looking for something a little different.
Reviewed by David Cook