"Greyman" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Arcana Studio
Written by Glenn Arseneau
Illustrated by Andy Gray
2011, 88 Pages
Graphic Novel released on July 5th, 2011
One of life's greatest mysteries is what happens when it's over. Some people spend their entire time on this mortal coil trying to figure that out. Author Glenn Arseneau has put his own spin on the topic with Greyman, an original graphic novel from Arcana Studio.
The comic centers on Adam Grey, a young man with his whole life ahead of him. This comes to a screeching halt when he's involved in a head-on collision while driving home from a date with his girlfriend Sarah. He's killed instantly but he hasn't gone into that bright light yet. It's in this space between worlds that souls can fall victim to fierce beasts called Seekers that feed on the thoughts and memories of the recently departed. Adam makes a deal with a being called Sahmyaza to return to the land of the living and to Sarah once more. Of course, any sort of contract like this has its stipulations.
Adam becomes the Greyman, hunting down escaped demons and feeding on them. Sahmyaza is along for the ride, guiding Adam along and taking as much from him as possible. It's clear from pretty early on that Sahmyaza has some ulterior motives. He's using Adam, but the boy doesn't care. He just wants to get back to Sarah at any cost. On the way, the Greyman is warned by an observer on the astral plane.
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Greyman reminds me a lot of Spawn from Todd McFarlane. You've got a guy who makes a deal with a creature in the afterlife to return to his still living love but ultimately rebels against the shackles that bind him. Whereas Spawn had chains that he'd whip out at his opponents, Greyman has these bones that spring out of his back like spider legs. Very creepy. I love the design for the character. Artist Andy Gray created a very painful looking costume. There's a dark green cape which is pretty basic, but Adam's body looks like it's made up of raw muscle with no skin outside of that on his face. Bone armors his arms and legs.
Speaking of Gray's artwork, the demons that our hero tackles are pretty horrific. Some of them have these hideous long tongues that look like something out of The Strain. Others have rows upon rows of sharp, jagged teeth. The scenes that are perhaps the most frightening are the ones that have a horde of insects and rats descending on a victim. The other aspects of the book are things that people can be scared about but won't actually happen. Moths and rats are real things and the idea of a ton of them crawling and clawing all over you is certainly cringe-worthy.
My only real qualm with Gray's work is the coloring. I don't know if this was just the digital copy that I was reading or what, but the scenes that are set in dark areas -- of which there are many -- are difficult to follow. It's tough to see what's going on or even if there's anyone in the panel. Again, this might be something that's lightened a bit in the physical print version, but I can't tell.
Greyman is an interesting character and one that I hope returns for more story. Adam's adventure as Greyman is very brief. By the time he learns the ropes with his new powers, he's already facing the creature that gave them to him in a battle to the death. I'd love to see this world fleshed out a bit more because my inner nerd has to know everything about the rules of the afterlife here. Are there more people like Adam out there? Are there other Greymen?