The penultimate issue of “The Grim After” is more style than substance, favoring action and violence to world-building and character development.
Now, that may sound like a complaint, and if this were any other book, it probably would be. But this isn’t just another comic book, this is Reaver, one of the most well-crafted fantasy comics on the market.
Reaver Continues To Impress
One of the many things that make Reaver special is the glorious, gory and overly indulgent fight scenes headed by the main character of this arc, Essen Breaker, AKA The Devil’s Son. Essen is a behemoth, a mountain of a man who has spent his whole life brutally taking the lives of his enemies. Witnessing this beastly warrior rend flesh from bone with his battle axe is a truly awe inspiring experience. Niko Henrichon paints Essen Breaker as a beastly man whose incredible speed in battle should not be possible, considering his massive frame.
Despite logic, despite reason, despite the odds always being stacked against him, Essen will not fall. After arriving on the Black Isle in search of the missing orphans, and shortly after Rekala’s diversion attack, he annihilates a half dozen of Stagger’s men. As he tears through his enemies, there’s a subtle notion of regret in his eyes. “The Grim After” presented Essen as a man trying to escape the bloodshed and violence, yet here he is, sending more and more souls to the afterlife. His rage and intensity are the emotions he chooses to show on the surface, but it’s clear that deep down, Essen wishes he could escape his violent nature.
As his onslaught continues, Rekala the Skineater storms the factory where the orphans were being brought to discover a horrible truth: The drug that enhanced the strength of Stagger’s men is created through an arcane combination of science and dark magic which utilized the blood and flesh of the kidnapped children.
The artwork of the facility in Reaver is so detailed and full of life that I could almost hear the machines whirring ominously and smell the putrid sulfur in the air. What really made the horrors of The Black Isle so atrocious was the cliffhanger revelation of Stagger’s true identity. Much to the chagrin of Essen Breaker, it turns out that his oldest friend, Bren, the one person who he trusted to help him better himself, was the one behind the blood-curdling experiments and abuse that have plagued Haas Haaden as of late.
Making the revelation even more painful is the fact that Bren and Essen grew up together as orphans in Haas Hadden, under the tutelage of Rana, an old caretaker. Back in Reaver issue #7, Bren’s men snapped Rana’s neck. The depth of his betrayal runs extraordinarily deep, and seeing that confronted will certainly make for an explosive conclusion to “The Grim After.”
What did you think of Reaver #10? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!
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