The comic series
The "Grendel" entity
- Blue and Orange Morality: May be literally "evil", but more likely a force of aggression and domination.
- Demonic Possession: Has been shown to be a literal demon.
- The Hunter: Grendels tend to be thrown into conflict with supernatural entities, with Brian Li Sung being the only significant exception — assuming the entity itself doesn't count.
- The Imp: Though never directly shown in art, the Entity is sometimes represented as an impish Red Devil in asides.
- Knife Nut: All Grendels wield blades or piercing weapons by tradition. The Entity itself revels in bloodshed.
- Manipulative Bastard: It's hinted that it may have somehow arranged the events that drive people to take on the "Grendel" mantle, in particular Stacy Palumbo's rape and the murder of Christine Spar's son.
- Skunk Stripe: Grendels tend to develop this as a Red Right Hand.
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- The Ace: Hunter Rose, an Olympic-level fencer, best-selling novelist, millionaire socialite, master assassin and ruler of the largest criminal empire in North America. Only three other individuals are shown to be able to match him on an intellectual or physical level. One is Argent, an unaging, Super Strong werewolf, the other two (via crossover) are Batman and The Shadow.
- Averted in the original Batman crossover, as Hunter assumes Batman is less a threat than Argent. Hunter underestimates Batman constantly, leading to Batman quickly seeing through his plans, and savagely beating Grendel, nearly capturing him but for a child in danger.
- Bait the Dog: His stories are written out of chronological order - if you read them in order of writing Hunter becomes more unambiguously evil and less cool with each story.
- Blade on a Stick: A "fork" with two knife blades, which can also be electrified. Most later Grendels use a variation.
- Byronic Hero: Initially conceived as such, but his "hero" status is increasingly undercut.
- The Dreaded: Terrifies absolutely everyone in New York.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Frequently slaughters dozens of gun-wielding opponents armed with only his trademark fork-sword-spear-naginata-thing. Even when deprived of this weapon temporarily during his crossover with The Shadow, he instead opts to wield a hunting knife rather than a firearm. As the aforementioned co-star notes, this seems to come from "a romantic attachment to bladed weapons", rather than particular issues with firearms.
- Embarrassing First Name: Hunter Rose itself is a pseudonym - it's revealed at one point that his original first name was Eddie.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: When he discovers that one of the gangs he took over includes a Gayngster who is about to be executed by his homophobic cohorts, he intimidates them into sparing him. Now, if the man had stolen from them or betrayed them, fine. But he doesn't see gayness as a good reason to kill someone just because an, in his words, "antiquated text" says so.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Violently opposed to paedophilia and violence against children.
- Exotic Weapon Supremacy
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Hunter Rose was once a boy by the name of Eddie from the suburbs gifted with superhuman intelligence.
- Gentleman Thief: A deconstruction of the character type. His personality and aesthetics follow it closely. However, rather than a likeable thief from people who can afford it, he's a ruthless and extremely violent gangster.
- Legendary in the Sequel: Thanks to, in particular, Christine and Wiggins.
- Likes Older Women: Hunter's first lover was Jocasta Rose. She was 36. He was 14.
- 90% of Your Brain: Implied to be the source of Hunter Rose's exceptional physical and mental abilities- his autopsy suggests the he may have had "some advanced genetic mutation, resulting in much higher usage of our almost limitless mental capacities".
- Parental Incest: While not literally happening, it's heavily implied that this was the basis for his attraction to Jocasta Rose, and sometimes implied as his real reason for adopting Stacy. Though it's a little weird... Well not weird in the wanting to sleep with your parent kind of way but because we know very little about either of Hunter's parents, and he left them without hesitation and its implied that he didn't even like them. The only thing we hear mentioned about Jocasta Rose and his mother was a "motherly face". The hints involving Stacy were retconed later.
- Single-Target Sexuality: While Hunter is considered a playboy, he's never shown doing more than kissing a date's hand. The only genuine affections he ever developed were for Jocasta Rose and Stacy Palumbo.
- Sword Cane: Hunter Rose's "fork on a stick" can collapse into a cane for disguise purposes.
- Teen Genius: Was a best-selling novelist and major underworld figure before he was out of his teens.
- Villainous Breakdown: Has a mild one when he discovers that he may owe his abilities to a separate entity, and that he'll have successors, some of whom might even outmatch him. Also comes close to it in Batman/Grendel, when Batman beats him in one-to-one combat, and his actions nearly cause the death of a little girl.
- Wicked Cultured: Goes with the Gentleman Thief stuff.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Pretty much his sole redeeming feature. Subverted, as he unwittingly does anyway by depriving Stacy of her beloved uncle, and by shaming Argent in her eyes.
The Wolf, Argent
- The Ageless: Has lived for several centuries.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Goes into depressed retirement between Hunter's death and Christine becoming Grendel.
- Bullying a Dragon: Christine would have given up being Grendel voluntarily if he and Wiggins hadn't kept harassing her and her friends.
- Creepy Good: Everybody except Stacy (for a while) is terrified and/or repelled by him.
- Depending on the Artist: His depictions vary as to how human or animalistic his face and skeletal structure are.
- Designated Hero: Less that he's a good guy than that Grendel's bad enough to justify the police working with him.
- The Dreaded: Terrifies absolutely everyone in New York.
- Good Is Not Nice: In his more sympathetic moments.
- Handicapped Badass: After his back is broken in his final fight with Hunter.
- Hero Antagonist: Played with. While Argent is definitely the antagonist his methods are every bit as brutal as Hunter's, and quite a bit less focused than Christine Spar's.
- Magical Native American: Said to be originally an Algonquin. He appears to use some kind of Native American magic to regain the use of his legs before his final battle with Christine.
- Manly Gay: The reason for his curse.
- Mundane Fantastic: He's popularly viewed as something of an enigma, but pretty much accepted as part of New York.
- Mutual Kill: With Christine.
- '90s Anti-Hero: In his less sympathetic moments.
- Punny Name: "Argent" is French for silver, the traditional weakness of werewolves, although it isn't depicted as such in Grendel.
- His identity as a werewolf is not, however, a reference to Beowulf, whose name means "bear."
- Retired Badass: Argent, in Devil's Legacy.
- Savage Wolf: He's very gratuitously violent.
- Vigilante Execution: As in "bits strewn across the street".
- Vigilante Man
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: While he does share faint similarities with Beowulf in his fights with Grendel, he is not intended to be a modern incarnation of Beowulf, instead having his own mythology and background.
- Wolf Man: Permanently and non-shiftingly.
- Break the Cutie: After the horrors of her childhood, gets violently raped by the man she loves on their wedding night and goes permanently insane.
- Creepy Child: Although it's pretty inevitable given her circumstances.
- Electra Complex: Repeatedly looks for a father substitute, and every time it goes horribly wrong.
- Enfant Terrible: May have (possibly unintentionally) killed her governess because she cramped her style, and her plans of revenge against Hunter..
- Manipulative Bastard: Ends up setting up Hunter and Argent to fight to the death.
- Morality Pet: Deconstructed. Her relationship with Hunter means that she doesn't have a real childhood because of him using her as a social conversation piece, when she finds out he's Grendel she's so shocked she causes his death, and the whole of her life is blighted by her association with him.
- Rape as Drama: Stacy Palumbo was raped by her husband (and psychiatrist) on their wedding night. He promptly committed suicide, while she remained catatonic for the rest of her life. This produced her one and only daughter, who would grow up to become Christina Spar and the new Grendel.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How she sets up the final battle between Hunter and Argent, by making Hunter think Argent has taken her hostage.
- Ate His Gun: When the police come looking for him after Hunter's death.
- Camp Gay: By implication.
- The Consigliere: To Hunter.
- Information Broker: Acts as Hunter's spy in high society.
- It Amused Me: Larry gains nothing for assisting Hunter, but the pleasure of doing so. Ironically, this is also why Hunter lets him live — as the only person to figure out on his own that Hunter was Grendel, Larry's amused indifference to the fact itself amuses Grendel.
- Secret Keeper: The only person who knows Hunter is Grendel and who Hunter allows to live.
- Beneath Suspicion: Polk doesn't seriously consider Ray Weisburg, the son of Ed Weisburg as a suspect in the diamond smuggling scheme. He seems more interested in being a filmmaker than taking over his father's buisness.
- Defective Detective: Polk seems to be a little bit lacking in assertiveness (he's too nice). He also doesn't know how to haggle when paying for street info. One guy was easily able to weasel $200 out of him. He knew the info was going to cost something, but the price didn't make him happy. His wife also apparently left him.
- Detective Drama: Played straight.
- Dirty Cop: Polk's chief and a few sergeants.
- Easily Overheard Conversation: In a bathroom stall. This is how Polk finds out that some of his cop buddies are taking kickbacks.
- TheEveryman: He's a very ordinary cop.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The plot is a rather unremarkable story of a diamond importing/fiscal bidding scheme. But it involves a wealthy family of diamond importers and their attempt to cut Grendel out of the loop. Polk is a rather resourceful but otherwise ordinary and unremarkable man. He gets involved only because of an overheard bathroom conversation.
- Shown Their Work: Polk interviews several people of interest. He (as well as the reader) learns a lot about the New York diamond import scene as well as the general bidding for diamond prices at the beginning of each fiscal year. These price bids are promises to sell their diamonds at that price per carat or less.
- Action Girl
- Action Mum
- Anti-Villain: For a Grendel, Christine keeps casualties surprisingly low, only attacking people who've chosen to oppose her, and her motives (protecting her family and lover) are surprisingly pure.
- Cleavage Window: Many of her costumes when not Grendel do this.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: As she acts as Grendel, is increasingly taken over by the role and driven to replicate Hunter's actions.
- '80s Hair: Really, really eighties, despite her main arc being set in the 2020s.
- Intrepid Reporter: Christine's day job before her son's kidnapping.
- Legacy Character: Explicitly such to Hunter, to the point of using his mask and weapon.
- As her mother is Stacy Palumbo, she's also Hunter's granddaughter. When people comment on this, she reminds them she has no blood relation to Rose.
- Mutual Kill: With Argent.
- Nominal Hero: Driven to become a vigilante by the disappearance and probable death of her son.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On Tujiro and his associates.
- Tragic Hero: Her attempts to get revenge on Tujiro cause her death, and she doesn't even succeed in killing him.
Brian Li Sung
- Archer Archetype: Uniquely adopts the bow and arrow as his main weapon as Grendel.
- Apocalyptic Log: His diary. He's eventually unnervingly aware that Grendel also keeps a diary, that he doesn't remember writing.
- Ascended Extra: Begins as a minor work colleague of Christine Spar, then becomes her love interest, then after her death a central character and the third Grendel.
- Ax-Crazy: The first Grendel to display this tendency, showing little remorse or restraint, often brutalizing people for annoying him.
- Becoming the Mask: The first Grendel to directly believe in Demonic Possession by the Grendel entity.
- Classical Anti-Hero
- Driven to Suicide: Deliberately allows Wiggins to kill him to atone for his previous deeds and in an attempt to stop the cycle from continuing.
- Earn Your Bittersweet Ending: Insane beyond hope for redemption, Brian Li Sung prevents his devil from killing anyone by dying first. Li Sung clearly counts this as a win, but it's heavily implied that the Grendel Entity is okay with it, too.
- Enemy Within: The only Grendel to become aware of the Grendel entity as a separate being and try to fight it.
- Legacy Character: To Christine Spar.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Puts together his costume himself. It shows.
- Suicide by Cop: How he dies. Played surprisingly straight, as it's implied Li Sung's death unnerves Wiggins more than he lets on.
- Technical Pacifist: Subverted. Of the three original Grendels, Li Sung's is the only one with Ax-Crazy tendencies. That said, he never kills anyone, though only because Li Sung commits Suicide by Cop.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: His entire point-of-view section.
- Cats Are Mean: His animal form is a Bond-villain-style white Persian cat.
- Child Eater: As well as being a murderous vampire and criminal, is also a serial murderer of young boys.
- Creepy Souvenir: His collection of bottled eyeballs.
- Exit Villain Stage Left: After Christine kills all his minions and comes close to killing him.
- Eye Scream: His serial-killer-trademark is ripping out one of his victim's eyes and keeping it preserved as a trophy.
- Karma Houdini: But see below.
- Lecherous Licking: When he kisses Christine's hand, which tips her off about his creepiness.
- My Grandson Myself: May possibly have been Tujiro I-XIII as well.
- Serial Killer
- Wicked Cultured: His public identity is as a well-known kabuki actor.
- Yellow Peril: A restrained example, balanced out by the sympathetic Brian Li Sung.
- Affably Evil: Wiggins is almost invariably polite, debonair, and unflappable when questioning his suspects.
- The Alcoholic: Implied to become an alcoholic in later life.
- Bullying a Dragon: His harassment of Christine and Brian contributes to both of their violent careers as Grendel and their deaths.
- Classy Cravat: In his later years.
- Cultured Badass
- Electronic Eyes: One of his eyes has been replaced by an electronic lie detector with a metal surround.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: When he starts writing stories about Hunter Rose, congratulates himself that he won't get drawn into the Grendel madness. His works end up cementing Grendel as a world-dominating meme, and he finally goes homicidally insane.
- Genre Savvy: Refuses to discuss Christine Spar or Brian Li Sung, for fear of digging up old ghosts. He assumes it won't happen if he confines it to impersonal stories about Hunter Rose, whom he never met. He's mistaken.
- He Who Fights Monsters: First implied by his association with Argent, but confirmed with his treatment of Brian Li Sung.
- Knight Templar: Is absolutely and sincerely focused on his role as a cop. He also openly harasses suspects in attempt to get them to break.
- Living Lie Detector: Captain Wiggins' cybernetic eye lets him read biopatterns.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether his mental collapse is due to excessive drinking and a bad marriage, or because of a Grendel influence.
- Sharp-Dressed Man
- Shown Their Work: His eye has a lie detector, which he confesses isn't admissible in court. Real world polygraph tests aren't, either.
- The CSI Effect: Averted with Wiggins cybernetic eye/lie dectector. It's useful but it's inadmissable in court.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: His final decline into insanity.
- Trophy Wife: Which doesn't turn out well.
- Awesome by Analysis: The reason he rises to prominence? The Pope bought so many bananas that it'd be impossible to distribute them all to the hungry before the bulk begin rotting. So what is the real purpose?
- Badass Bureaucrat: Initially
- Badass Mustache
- Brother-Sister Incest: With both his sisters. Until they get murdered by the Church.
- The Chessmaster
- Even Evil Has Standards: Refuses to use nuclear weapons because of the devastation they caused in the past. This doesn't stop him from destroying the whole of Japan with the Sun-Gun, although he justifies it on the grounds that it doesn't cause lasting pollution and contamination the way nukes do.
- He also notes it's comparatively merciful, and that Japan would fight to the death even against overwhelming force, mirroring perception in World War II. Assante is probably the most significant Grendel who's arguably not evil, just desperate.
- God-Emperor: Not entirely willingly, but if people will insist on worshipping him...
- Good People Have Good Sex: Well, for elastic values of "good." Definitely the sanest and most rational, and possibly the most well-intentioned, Grendel, and it's strongly implied that this is down to his ability to maintain romantic relationships with other people.
- Honest Corporate Executive: To start with.
- Mr Seahorse: Carries baby Jupiter himself due to Laurel's inability to carry a child to term.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: From middle to old age over the cause of his narrative.
- Take Over the World: The major mystery of his character is if he was planning to do this all along, or if one thing just led to another.
- Three-Way Sex: Has a long-term and stable relationship with Sherri and Fada. It's left decorously unclear whether the two women were actually sexually involved with each other, although all three of them certainly shared a bed.
- Animal Metaphor: Eppy's thoughts are frequently contrasted with images of a pigeon feeding Eppy's prayer balloon to one of its babies, suffocating it to death in the process and cleanly illustrating Eppy's views on what faith leads to.
- Ax-Crazy: At his most extreme moments.
- Expy: He's mostly a cross between V from V for Vendetta and the Green Goblin.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Unlike the other versions of Grendel, was an unknown blue-collar working stiff before he took up the mantle.
- Hermit Guru: Orion hopes he has become one, but is disappointed.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Kills quite a lot of fairly innocent people, but Innocent is so monstrous that he still comes across as heroic by comparison.
- Pop-Cultured Badass: Likes quoting sixties pop songs.
- Psycho Serum: The hallucinogenic and strength-boosting "Grendel" drug he uses.
- Rage Against the Heavens: The only major Grendel to consciously embrace the supernatural elements of the role and identify as a demon.
- Retired Badass: After the defeat of Innocent.
- Self-Harm: Implied in the past, and implications of it when he implants anti-grav disks into his hands and feet.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The sequences of his hallucinations.
Pope Innocent XLII
- Big Bad
- The Bus Came Back / Hijacked by Ganon: He is, in fact, Tujiro.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Tujiro returns, and this time actually gets what's coming to him.
- Red Right Hand: One of his hands is apparently artificial (actually a fake to cover up vampiric deformity).
- Sinister Minister: Being a vampire serial murderer who's plotting to conquer the world surely qualifies.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Worshipped by an elite group of fanatics and a whole lot of rubes.
- Almighty Idiot: Cross eventually indulges in his vampirism to the point that he's a bloated, near-mindless heap who can do little more but drink blood and idly allow others to feed off him in turn.
- Bastard Understudy: To Pope Innocent
- Dark Messiah: To his vampire minions.
- Dirty Cop: By his era, C.O.P. continues to claim some kind of security purpose, but is basically just another armed gang.
- Empty Shell: At the end, he's a bloated, virtually insensate mass unable to even speak.
- Fat Bastard: By his final years, so fat he can barely move.
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Goes after Innocent pretty much as soon as he regains a degree of self-awareness following his vampirisation.
- Monster Progenitor: Whereas Tujiro was very restrained about who he turned, Cross turns people quite indiscriminately, so that in the later stages of the story practically all the vampires around are members of his bloodline.
- Patient Zero: Of the new vampire plague. All prior vampires died with the Pope, and Cross actively pushes to recruit whenever possible.
- Sanity Slippage: After becoming a vampire, gradually gets nuttier and nuttier.
- Savage Wolf: Although he rarely transforms, his animal form is a wolf. This adds to the innuendo at times (especially in his fight with Eppy) that his life is somehow recapitulating Argent's.
- Two-Faced: Half his skull is replaced by bionic armour.
- Vampire Monarch
- Villainous Glutton
- Villainous Valour: Whatever you think of him, his theft of the plutonium is pretty badass.
- We Have Reserves: His attitude to his minions as a vampire.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Subverted - Pellon assumes Innocent is going to kill him, but instead Innocent turns him into a vampire.
- Expy: Has some distinct similarities to Granny Goodness. It may be coincidental, but she also looks like an evil version of one of Gary Larson's trademark fat housewives with beehive hairdos and narrow spectacles.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: Blatantly in love with Innocent.
- Nun Too Holy
- Torture Technician
- Too Kinky to Torture: Commits repeated acts of self-mortification to prove herself to Innocent. He doesn't notice.
- Undignified Death: Shot in the back, then drowns in a giant vat of bananas (It Makes Sense in Context.}
- Badass Biker: Usually uses a hoverbike.
- Black Knight: His core themes are directly drawn from this trope.
- Cyborg: Let Orion turn him into the ultimate warrior. In "War Child" he's metal from the ribcage down, by the time of Batman/Grendel II the only remaining human part of him are his eyes and brain.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Susan Veraghen, arguably the only other Grendel to ever live up to Grendel Prime's standards.
- Hell-Bent for Leather
- Knight in Sour Armor: By Past Prime, though reuniting with Susan helps.
- Laser Blade: His favourite weapon.
- Loss of Identity: Although if you're paying attention, there's one very obvious candidate as to who he might have been.
- Noble Demon
- The Paladin: Expressly identified as such, though he's not remotely a good guy.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Eventually subverted, as he becomes thoroughly disgusted with the degeneration of the Grendel ideal.
- Villain Protagonist
- Action Girl
- The Apunkalypse: Mohican, dreadlocks, tattoos, ripped clothes and/or lots of leather... yep, she's definitely adopted this as her fashion sense.
- Ascended Extra: Starts off as a random guard, then becomes the first-person narrator of Past Prime.
- The Atoner: In Grendel: Past Prime. It was her clan that was on guard duty the night Jupiter Assante was assassinated; as a result, everyone except her commits ritual suicide, and she herself goes on a worldwide pilgrimage to locate the missing Grendel Prime.
- Brawn Hilda: A rare Action Girl who's built like a bruiser rather than a catwalk model.
- Butch Lesbian
- Death Seeker: For a time after Crystal dumps her and Jupiter is murdered.
- Determinator: For all the stuff she does in Past Prime, after being captured by the rebels.
- Honor Before Reason: Not to be confused with Lawful Stupid. Susan is intimately and painfully aware that this allows others to manipulate her, but still holds herself to a higher standard.
- Kicked Upstairs: Her promotion to head of security for the Dakota residence turns out to be just a way of getting rid of Crystal's embarrassing ex-lover
- Lima Syndrome: Falls in love with Crystal while acting as her main guard (in what was a Gilded Cage to such a degree that Susan may not have fully realised she was meant to be keeping Crystal prisoner rather than protecting her).
- Love Hurts: Crystal drags her into a three-way relationship with Martel against her will, then dumps her for the kind of political arranged marriage that Susan originally rescued her from. Then Mace turns out to be an anti-Grendel fanatic and gets killed.
- Morality Chain: By implication to Grendel Prime, given the serious moral decay he rapidly undergoes after her death.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Redemption Earns Life: It's arguable as to whether she was ever "evil" (though all the Grendel clans have a code of honor that would be considered fundamentally incompatible with modern morality), but of all the main characters in the Grendel series she is the only one who is confirmed to have died a natural death- and apparently at an old age.
- Token Good Teammate: An essentially good and honourable person in a world where such virtues exist in an at-best twisted form.
- Undying Loyalty: To Grendel Prime until she actually dies, at which point he morally declines fast.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Her dead white skin and green hair are both natural. In Past Prime, she states that all the Veraghens had been genetically modified for green hair and pale skin several generations previous, and comments that "one of my great-great-grandmothers must have liked the look."
Laurel Kennedy Assante
- Bad Boss: Storms into the kitchen and throws boiling water over a sous-chef because she was served cauliflower.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Based on Joan Crawford.
- Cruel and Unusual Death
- God Save Us from the Queen!
- Parental Neglect: To Jupiter and Crystal
- Regent for Life: Allegedly planning to do this to Jupiter until Grendel Prime kidnapped him.
- Sanity Slippage
- The Starscream: To Orion.
- Trophy Wife: To Orion.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Murdered by his own wife between two books.
- The Good Prince
- Living Maguffin: In War Child. So long as he's alive, neither Laurel nor Heath may rule securely.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Jupiter Assante in Grendel: War Child.
- The Spartan Way: His upbringing, by his father's plan.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Word of God says he's gay, though he marries a woman eventually.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Appears as an adult for just one double-length comic issue.
Brilla and Margaret Session
Jupiter III Assante