[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/grendel-2006_1069.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Meet the face of aggression.]]

''Grendel'' is a comic book series created by Matt Wagner. The titular character first appeared in the anthology title ''"Comico Primer''" #2 (1982). He held his own short-lived black and white series (1983-1984), and also appeared as back-up strip in ''"Mage''" (1984-1986). Before launched in an original full-color series, lasting from 1986 to 1990. Various mini-series featuring Grendel regularly appeared through the [[TheNineties 1990s]]. Reprints and some new material have continued appearing in the 21st century.

The initial subject matter concerns one Hunter Rose, who is a bestselling author, a sophisticated gentleman who attends high class parties. He's also Grendel, a ruthlessly efficient assassin who slowly takes over ''all'' the mobs in New York City. Matt Wagner's stories of Grendel are [[FilmNoir noir]] tales, black and white and red only. They are not only tales of a criminal mastermind, but a study in aggression.

Along the the way, Grendel comes across two other important characters: Stacy Palumbo, a young girl whom Hunter adopts after he kills her father, and Argent the Wolf, a cursed werewolf who works with the police to stop Grendel. At the end of the first Grendel story, ''Devil by the Deed'', Stacy, who has found out Hunter is Grendel, manipulates both Grendel and Argent to fight on a rooftop, where Grendel dies.

However, this is not the end of the story; the series proper is set in the future after the conclusion of ''Devil by the Deed'', initially featuring Stacy's daughter Christine Spar. The story then continues in the far future, where the concept of Grendel eventually becomes the basis of world civilisation.

'''Spoilers Ahoy!'''
----
!!This series provides examples of:

* AfterTheEnd: The ''War Child'' continuity clearly takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. Most of the Middle Eastern OPEC states are now an abandoned wasteland, and Europe is shown to consist largely of bombed-out ruins.
* {{Animorphism}}: Vampires are capable of transforming into one specific animal each. This animal is known as their "totem".
* AnythingThatMoves: Crystal Kennedy.
** Her grandfather's pretty close, too.
* TheApunkalypse: The North-Eastern USA ends up like this after World War III, and is still that way in Grendel Prime's era.
* BadassCreed: The Oath of Obedience in the Assante continuity.
* BigFatFuture: All the megacorp bosses in 2120 are really fat and fly around on hoverchairs.
* BladeOnAStick: Hunter Rose's 'fork', a weapon also favored by Christine Spar and Eppy Thatcher
* BuryYourGays: Susan's lovers did not often have long lifespans, and if that wasn't bad enough...
** HideYourLesbians: Crystal Kennedy essentially has Susan exiled to the Dakota compound so she can take up with a new (male) love interest.
* CanonWelding: Played with. Both of the crossovers with Franchise/{{Batman}} are Grendel continuity, but not Batman's.
* CrucifiedHeroShot: After Eppy Thatcher implants anti-grav disks into his hands and feet.
* CyberPunk: What the Grendel stories eventually become.
* {{Cyborg}}: A few characters have cybernetic implants, such as Captain Wiggins' artificial eye. CyberneticsEatYourSoul comes into play more than once. Taken UpToEleven with Grendel-Prime, who is a full-body conversion ''powered by sunlight.''
* DeathSeeker: It's probably easier to list characters that ''don't'' have at least overtones of this.
* DemonicPossession: Occasionally discussed as part of taking on the Grendel identity.
* DistantFinale: By the end of this far future we see that Grendel has, in his very basic essence and concept, '''taken over the world'''.
* {{Dystopia}}: The Christine Spar and Brian Li Sung sections show US society becoming increasingly authoritarian and corporate-dominated, which eventually leads to a nuclear war and an even-worse theocratic dictatorship when civilisation recovers. Orian Assante's world-state may or may not qualify depending on the reader's judgement.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness / CharacterizationMarchesOn: The black-and-white stories that introduced the character portray him as something between Don Corleone and an amoral Spider-Man. Matt Wagner once mentioned that Hunter Rose gets a little more evil every time he writes about him.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: The Forx gang of Grendels, who burn crude oil instead of using it, and definitely true of the post-Assante Grendels, who take sharp issue with nuclear weapons.
** Hunter Rose and Argent both ''really'' hate pedophiles. In the pages of ''Red, White and Black'' and ''Black, White and Red'', they kill probably half a dozen between the two of them.
* ExperimentedInCollege: This becomes Crystal's attitude to her relationship with Susan, much to Susan's heartache.
* EyeScream: The tines of Grendel's fork just happen to be the perfect width to stab someone through both eyes simultaneously.
* FacialMarkings: Many post-Orion Grendels adopt the "devil eyes" as markings, either make-up or tattoos for the really hardcore. Manny [=McDoone=] also has tattoos all over one side of his head and face.
** [[spoiler: Hunter Rose in Batman/Grendel]] is revealed to wear the Grendel mask as makeup under the actual Grendel mask.
* FeudalFuture: Orion's world state and its later degenerate form.
* ForegoneConclusion: Hunter Rose will die on the roof of the Broadway Masonic Temple following a battle with Argent. The very first page of the very first issue, back in 1983, starts with both characters there.
* FrequentlyBrokenUnbreakableVow: Expect most promises to end in bloodshed. Expect those who break the Grendel Oath to suffer for it. Expect most showcased Grendels to break the oath.
** Both Hunter and Christine [[TemptingFate swear to protect their children.]]
* FunWithAcronyms: The '''C'''onfederacy '''O'''f '''P'''olice in the Eppy Thatcher/Orion Assante arc.
* GenerationXerox: Definite hints that the same people and roles tend to recur. As well as all the Grendels, Pellon Cross has some similarities to Argent, and Manny [=McDoone=] is Orion's version of Larry Stohler.
** Anyone with a SkunkStripe is probably a major Grendel figure.
* GoneHorriblyRight: Orion Assante has Grendel Prime kidnap Jupiter and bring him up away from court so that the boy will grow up a righteous warrior instead of a decadent pampered princeling. It's implied that this may have resulted in Jupiter not noticing that his wife was planning to murder him and getting killed shortly after his coronation.
** Grendel Prime was created to embody the purest ideals of the Grendel philosophy, including refusing "Name, or status, or rank of any kind." Unfortunately for him, this also means he's a OneManArmy who refuses to be TheLeader, and is [[DespairEventHorizon doomed to watch his ideals crumble into antiquity when lesser souls cannot live up to his example]].
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: The USSR still exists in 2120, at which point the simultaneous assassination of its Premier and the US President leads to WorldWarIII.
* HappyEndingOverride: Between "War Child" and "Past Prime": Jupiter I Assante is assassinated shortly after his coronation and Orion's empire degenerates into a quasi-feudal anarchy terrorised by self-serving rival Grendel clans and wandering psychos.
* HolyBurnsEvil: As a vampire, Cross is apparently repelled when Orion brandishes a makeshift cross at him. Subverted, since there wasn't actually any mystical effect: the sight of the cross brought his memory of being turned back and reminded him that Innocent was his main enemy.
* ILoveYouVampireSon: Most vampires in the story are subservient to their creators.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: The majority of stories, and individual chapters of longer stories, have a title using the word "devil". Subverted in one of the Hunter Rose stories told in flashback by Wiggins, where he tries and fails to come up with a title in this format and rejects it as Christine Spar's tic.
* IntercontinuityCrossover:
** The two ''Batman/Grendel'' miniseries, especially notable in that not only are both crossovers canon for Grendel, the sequel comic serves as a major plot point in Grendel Prime's life.
** Also, ''Grendel vs Radio/TheShadow'', where Hunter Rose is sent back in time to the 1930s, where he stages a coup d'etat to take over the era's mafia and does battle with the famous vigilante.
* KillerGorilla: Grendel Prime is made to fight one when he encounters an African Grendel cult.
* KnightTemplar: All of the Orion's Sword Grendels who hold true to the code qualify to some extent.
** Grendel Prime is specifically called out on this, repeatedly referred to as [[InSeriesNickname "paladin"]].
* LethalHarmlessPowers: One vampire has the ability to transform into an earthworm. She uses it to infiltrate a Las Vegas casino as a result of which it becomes conquered by vampires.
* LostSuperweapon: The sun-disc from the ''War Child'' series. [[spoiler:The missing component to make the thing work is Grendel-Prime himself.]]
* MeleeATrois: The climax of the Eppy Thatcher arc, with a climactic battle around the Church's tower involving Pope Innocent XLII and his fanatics versus Orion Assante and his followers versus Pellon Cross and his horde of vampires, with Thatcher acting as a lone agent of chaos and a bunch of drug-crazed worshippers caught in the middle.
* MuggingTheMonster: In ''Batman/Grendel II'', when Grendel Prime picks a fight with a street gang to get a motorbike.
* MundaneFantastic: Many of the Grendels are BadassNormal, but the story also features vampires and werewolves.
* {{Mutants}}: After World War III, the nuked Middle East becomes home to horrific and pathetic BodyHorror radioactive mutants.
* NoNameGiven: While all Grendels aspire to this in service to the Khan, Grendel-Prime has utterly abandoned his former life.
* NudeNatureDance: Hitchcock Blue frolicking in the desert when he's alone.
* {{Omnibus}}: The early 2010s saw the publication of the complete series (minus the ''Batman'' crossovers for legal reasons, and the Argent origin story because it was impossible to obtain high-enough-quality artwork) in four omnibus volumes, in order of internal chronology.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: The "rules" of vampirism in the series are closer to those in the original ''Literature/{{Dracula}}'' than many later elaborations.
* PathOfInspiration: In the far future, [[spoiler:the Catholic Church]].
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: Grendel-Prime's [[spoiler:time-viewing/time-travelling]] machine is powered by the psychic energy released by mass murder.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: Devil Child, featuring Stacy and bridging between Devil By the Deed and Devil's Legacy. Spoilers for real life trauma: [[spoiler:Stacy was raped by a man she trusted. The second issue's letter column reveals that the writer based Stacy's reaction to this event on personal experience.]]
* RedAndBlackAndEvilAllOver: Many of the Hunter Rose stories are in black and white with red highlights. Usually for blood.
* ReligionOfEvil: Some of the Grendel cults, as well as the vampire cult founded by Pellon Cross.
* {{Retcon}}: Matt Wagner's attitude towards Hunter Rose changed over time. Initially, ''Devil by the Deed'' contained hints of Rose being a NobleDemon (specifically relating to his pseudo-paternal concern for Stacy). But every time Wagner went back to that character, he made him more and more evil - to the point where his affection for Stacy was attributed to the never-before-mentioned fact that [[{{Squick}} she reminded him of his dead lover Jocasta.]] The later stories also did the same to Argent: originally he is a relatively noble vigilante, but the subsequent stories have him killing relatively innocent people in his obsession to get Grendel, and one even suggests that he might be under the influence of the Grendel entity himself.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilised: Barrabus's revolt in ''Past Prime''.
** Orion attempts to seize control of the world peaceably whenever possible. [[BewareTheNiceOnes It rarely is, but that doesn't stop him.]]
* {{Samurai}}: Orion Assante's Grendel army in later series has major overtones of this, right down to the [[{{Seppuku}} ritual suicides]] and the [[KatanasAreJustBetter standard-issue katanas.]]
** Grendel Tales back covers feature a motif of the symbols of individual Grendel clans. One of them is clearly based on [[IconicLogo Japanese mon]].
* SharedUniverse: The "Grendel Tales" spinoffs, taking place after the Grendel ideal's ascent to world domination, and involving characters who aren't actual avatars of Grendel.
* ShootTheShaggyDog:
** A huge chunk of ''Behold the Devil'' was about Lucas Ottoman interviewing people about Grendel and eventually coming to realize that he was Hunter Rose. Of course, the readers know nobody knew who Grendel was until ''after'' his death, but it's still shocking when [[spoiler:Grendel nonchalantly slits his throat and sets him on fire]]. More than that, Lucas's girlfriend, Detective Liz Sparks [[spoiler:loses an eye, six fingers, and is burned over forty percent of her body, and a large number of completely innocent bystanders are killed when the building burns down]]. Wagner really doesn't want you to like Hunter Rose any more.
** Also, Christine Spar's quest for revenge on Tujiro for killing her son leads to her death, Argent's, and those of a good deal of third-parties some of whom might have been innocent, as well as indirectly to the death of Brian Li Sung, but completely fails in its main objective.
* ShoutOut: When Laurel Kennedy is declining into insanity, she plays with a group of dolls that include action figures of ComicBook/TankGirl and Milk of ''ComicBook/FunWithMilkAndCheese''.
* SubliminalAdvertising: Used by Orion Assante to influence other regions of the world to join his regime.
* TakeThat: At one point, Christine Spar fights a dumb and obnoxious minion of Tujiro's, who has a set of [[WolverineClaws blades attached to his knuckles]], just like [[ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} a certain famous Marvel character]]. She muses to herself that it's a stupid weapon with no reach, and cuts his entire hand off with her polearm, causing him to flee in cowardice.
** The corruption of the Catholic Church is a common theme in Orion Assante's stories.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Cross's minions Zebra and Kiersch.
* TropesAreNotBad: The entire point of War Child, which plays with dozens of post-apocalypse tropes at once.
* ATrueStoryInMyUniverse: Many Hunter Rose stories include excerpts from, or outright are, publications by Christine Spar or Wiggins. The text sections of "Devil's Reign" are supposedly excerpts from a biography of Orion Assante by his stepdaughter Crystal Kennedy.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: ''Grendel: Devil's Legacy'' about Christine Spar, Stacy Palumbo's daughter
** Given that cybernetics and similar leaps in technology are available, [[{{Zeerust}} the 80s fashion is still overwhelming.]] Despite coming later, The Devil Inside fits this trope better, as only Wiggins' cybernetic eye gets much showcase.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: In Issue #1 of "Devils Legacy" Christine was on the PhilDonahue show where she discussed the legacy of Grendel in her family. She mused that Donahue must be about 70 by now. According to recent estimate (based on when the idea of the original Hunter Rose stories being set in the early-mid 80s), Christine's story arc would have to take place somewhere in the mid 2020's. That would make Donahue more likely to be in his 90s by then. Donahue's long running show ended in 1996 and he had a short lived show between 2002-2003. The fact that the second show didn't last a year might reflect how relevant Donahue was in the 2000s (not very). Even if he's still alive, the "serious" talk show format is DeaderThanDisco. So no one is really holding their breath thinking that he'll try again anytime soon.
** Also, during Brian's tenure as Grendel, someone was discussing going home and watching DavidLetterman although they felt that the "old fart just aint funny anymore". Letterman retired from Late Night host in 2015; that would be about ten years before the events in the comic.
* VillainProtagonist: Most stories take place from the Grendels' perspectives, which are rarely sympathetic.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Lots, including Captain Wiggins, Brian Li Sung, Laurel Kennedy and Abner Heath.
** Implied to be the source of Grendel "possession", though this may just be Orion Assante's madness talking.
----