"Griff Gristle: The Siren's Song" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Madius Comics
Written by Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook
Illustrated by Rory Donald
2017, 48 Pages
Wherever monsters roam the seven seas, Griff Gristle is there to put them down. The gnarled adventurer is back for more with The Siren's Song. This time around, he's aboard a cruise ship that's under siege from a horrifying tentacled monster. That is just part of the troubles Griff and his young acquaintance, Justine, are up against. There are larger and darker forces at work, pulling strings as the waves crash.
I mentioned this in the review for the previous Griff Gristle comic, Here Be Monsters, but it bears repeatin:. The book has a definite Mike Mignola look and feel to it. It comes through in Griff's demeanor and especially in Rory Donald's artwork. The style instantly sets the tone for the comic and gives you an idea of what to expect.
Donald uses shadow very effectively, often casting all or part of a character's face in darkness. This separates Griff from your average hero who might be shown entirely in the light. He's gruff and full of regret and sorrow, but pushes on. Someone has to stop these monsters and it might as well be him.
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The one oddity with The Siren's Song is Griff's changing demeanor. In the opening pages, he's more of a hero, rushing into battle with a giant amorphous beast with some snappy dialogue. This contrasts to the depressed, crotchety man from the latter half of the book, where he seems to want to curl up with a bottle on his boat and be left alone.
Justine serves as a small ray of sunshine in Griff's otherwise cloud-covered life. She's not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Instead, she's driven and determined after she suffered a loss at the hands of the supernatural. Griff has too, but he's handling it differently. In a way, the pair is like Batman and Robin, both dealing with tragedies and coming out the other end in unique ways. Griff is in the dark while Justine is in the light. This is fitting given a panel early on showing Griff in a very familiar pose from the classic, The Dark Knight Returns.
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Although Griff is the star of the book, it's the monsters that steal the show. They are pure nightmare fuel, particularly the big one on the cruise ship. Its birth is disturbing enough on its own, bursting forth from a man by tearing his flesh apart. Then you see it in all its glory and it's pure Lovecraftian madness. It's tough to describe, as it looks like nothing I've ever seen. Its bulbous body is large and round with the people its eaten poking from its belly, trying with futility to escape. Tentacles edged with what appear to be teeth swirl about as a handful of eyes stare out from various spots on its skin. It's creepy as Hell.
Griff Gristle is a welcome addition to the supernatural adventurer landscape. He joins folks like Hellboy and Lord Baltimore, although he sticks to the seas. This is a man tortured by his past who finds the strength and courage to carry on and make the world a better place for everyone else. Perhaps if he's successful in his endeavors, no one else will have to go through what he did.
Griff Gristle: The Siren's Song is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. You can back the campaign here.