Grim Jack #24, July 1986, First Comics, Inc.
writers: John Ostrander, Steven Grant
artists: Timothy Truman, Paul Smith, Steven Haynie
Another find from the antiquing expedition. Not an impressive one, I'm afraid.
Having already eliminated Captain America and a Superman title from the ACAD roster, I'm making an effort to find comics I've never heard of before. Unfortunately, I haven't sought true indie or small press material yet; the only alternatives to "the big two" I've reviewed thus far are still superhero/adventure books, and as I assumed, these issues are crap with a cover. I mean, who the hell is Grim Jack? And why didn't this issue, touted as a "special anniversary issue" complete with a reprint of Grim Jack's first published story, answer that question? Near as I figure, Grim Jack (whose real name is John Gaunt, which sounds a bit cooler than his "street name" if you ask me) is a failed wizard/bounty hunter with a heart of gold. He's tough and corny, considering the book is sprinkled with dialogue like this:
DOORMAN: You goin' in here, Gaunt?
GRIM JACK: Yeah.
DOORMAN: There gonna be a fight?
GRIM JACK: Maybe.
DOORMAN: Guess I better move, then.
The comic almost makes fun of itself, which would be a good enough read, if it weren't laced with lofty, over-explained mythology. In fact, the most interesting part of the story is its setting, which, though the characters explain the concept a few times too many, is boiled down in this intriguing intro: "The city's real name is Cynosure . . . built where the multiverse meets . . . The laws of physics change from block to block. Magic works here, science over there." If Grim Jack was a series about this city, rather than its hero, I'd look into it. But as these excerpts are from the reprinted tale, and the too brief new yarn settles on Gaunt's birthday, I presume I'm supposed to care about him. I don't.
I'm a superhero fan. Even a B-list superhero fan. (I have nearly every appearance of Cloak & Dagger, for example.) But if this comic is an example of what other publishers have offered the genre, Teenagers From Mars, here I come. The outlook for these Judge Dread-era knock-offs are just like John Gaunt: in a word, grim.