Pullbox Reviews: Grim #1- A Scythe, a River, & a dead guy in denial…

Jessica Harrow is dead. But her journey has only just begun! Discover the world of the afterlife, where Jessica has been recruited as a Reaper, tasked with ferrying countless souls to their final destination. But unlike the rest of the Reapers, she has no memory of what killed her and put her into this predicament. In order to unravel the mystery of her own demise, she’ll have to solve an even bigger one – where is the actual GRIM REAPER?

Bryan Michael Andrews has had better days, to say the least. He hasn’t gotten over his ex and jumped at the chance to meet up with her at a local bar. Things didn’t go as he’d hoped, so Bryan drank too much and wrecked his car on the way home. Adding fatality to injury, he died in the crash. All in all, things are looking decidedly… um… Grim. But it’s not all bad as Bryan is greeted by Jessica Harrow, the Reaper assigned to guide his soul across the river, to… whatever comes next.

Jessica Harrow has a job to do, and she seems pretty decent at it. She’s pleasant enough about the whole ordeal, doing what she can to ease folks through the realization that they’ve just finished the last days of their lives. In Bryan’s case, it isn’t an easy transition and he’s resistant to the idea of being dead. Still, Jessica is as patient as she can be while still delivering the reluctant soul to his appointed place.

Did you ever watch that show, Dead Like Me? It was a great concept, where there wasn’t any single figure cloaked in darkness, traveling the world and claiming souls. It was more like a civil service job, worked by the recently deceased who hadn’t quite earned their Eternal Rest yet. So far, Grim is looking a bit like that, with a crazy diverse cast of characters filling out the workforce of the afterlife.

Stephanie Phillips has delivered a great opening chapter to what could be an entertaining look into the world of Death. The idea of Death being more than a lurking specter humorlessly collecting souls (and playing the occasional game of chess) has been done before, most notably in the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett, and Sandman by Neil Gaiman. What I like about the concept of Grim is the idea that the Reapers are just people doing a job, performing a service that’s much needed but rarely understood or appreciated. Phillips lays the groundwork by introducing the likes of Jessica, Marcel, and Eddie… none of whom are particularly “grim”. Aside from Jessica herself, readers meet the group as they’re in between jobs, cracking wise and trading quips like co-workers do. It’s a great intro, showing us that the Reapers of Phillips’s story are coming from all walks of life and periods in history (Marcel was born in 1876 while Eddie looks like an 80’s glam-rock star).

The look of Grim is ably handled by artist Flaviano. Partnered here with colorist Rico Renzi, they are putting up some of the most gorgeous comic book pages I’ve seen in a while. Flaviano’s illustrations are smooth and polished, almost to within an inch of their lives, with all of the eye-catching detail you could want or hope to process. The character designs are great, from Bryan’s average Joe, to Jessica’s stylish goth, and finally to the individual Reapers representing their individual periods with pride and grace. And while Flaviano’s work could have stood on its own, Renzi’s colors make it POP. The various scenes each have their own palette dedicated to a specific tone. Starting in the real world with sort of a twilight looking color set, moving into a river crossing that’s all imposing reds, and then to the Great Waiting Room of the Afterlife practically glowing in florescent ambiance (listen close, you can almost hear the buzzing). Through it all, the pairing of Flaviano and Renzi creates a comic with more visual appeal than we deserve, and we should be thankful.

Grim’s opening issue is an entertaining setup, establishing a really interesting world full of myth & hinting at much more to come. As has often been the case, Boom! Studios is taking great concepts, handing them over to ridiculously talented creative teams, and letting it roll. Fans of modern and urban fantasy with great characters will find more than enough to keep them happy here.

Final Score: 12/13

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