Alter ego: Cole Cash
First appearance: Wild CATS #1 (January 1992)
Grifter is a comic-book character created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. He first appeared in Wild CATS, back when it was still being published by WildStorm, then had a succession of solo series, the most recent of which saw him officially join the DC Comics universe during New 52.
In the original Wildstorm continuity, Cole Cash was a former soldier in US Special Forces who later joined Team 7, a notorious black ops unit, fighting alongside such luminaries as Deathblow and Backlash. Later, he joined the WildC.A.T.s, alongside ex-girlfriend Zealot.
In the New 52 continuity, Cole Cash is a former soldier who deserted and became a con artist before a run-in with the Daemonites makes him aware of their attempts to infiltrate the world. After slaughtering several Daemonites disguised as humans, he becomes a wanted man and has to go on the run. For more details on that series specifically, see Grifter (2011).
Another version of Grifter appears in The Wild Storm, as a member of Jacob Marlowe's wild Covert Attack Team alongside new versions of Void, Spartan, and Savant. Different from other versions, here Cole Cash appeas as a normal human instead of having a mutation that gave him superpowers as in other versions.
In any continuity, Grifter is a man who is good with guns and hard to kill.
The character as well his series contain examples of:
- Adaptational Dye Job: In The Wild Storm reboot, Grifter now is redhead instead blonde as most of his appearances.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Of Gambit, being the Lovable Rogue of the group and also having a Badass Longcoat.
- Badass Longcoat: His green longcoat is one of the iconic clothes he has during his story, mostly in WildStorm era.
- Badass Boast: Like any good action hero, Grifter's had a few of those.
Grifter: @#%£ you. It's not over. I'll come back from hell if I have to.
- When he's fighting the Quiet Men, after the Quiet Men kidnapped his love interest Zealot, stabbed him, threw him onto the ground and crowed around him about to attack:
- Badass Normal: He's one in The Wild Storm, having no powers but his marksman skills untouched (or at least until now).
- Boxed Crook: A young Cole Cash was the getaway driver for a heist crew, until he turned on the crew when they turned violent. An FBI agent (either because he saw something in Cole or because of his mobster stepfather's connections, Depending on the Writer) gave him a choice: work for I.O. as a covert operative or go to jail.
- Breakout Character: Ended up getting his solo series and is often used for Wolverine Publicity.
- Cain and Abel: Grifter and his brother, Condition Red fall into this, from time to time, particularly due to Cole being The Unfavorite.[Grifter and Condition Red level their guns at each other] Grifter: Y'know, we could go get a drink and talk. Want to?Condition Red: No. [Both lower their weapons] But I guess it beats killing each other. Barely.
- Chained Heat: Grifter finds himself fighting a monster (actually a robot), when two cops try to intervene. The monster kills one of the cops, and Grifter saves the other one. The monster knocks them out, and Grifter and the cop, Molly Ingram, wake up tied up to opposite ends of a cross while some kind of cult ceremony takes place. Grifter manages to break the cross, and the two of them start fighting the cultists... except their arms are still tied together to two broken chunks of wood.Molly Ingram: We never practiced this at the police academy!Grifter: It's not a "practice makes perfect" sort of lifestyle.
- Child Soldier: One of the recurring bad guys from Steven Grant's run, Odyssey, a former colonel in the Army who's an expert on brainwashing, kidnaps a busload of schoolchildren with the intention of training them into perfect soldiers.
- Civvie Spandex: At first, Grifter's costume was mostly made up of regular street clothing, including a green trenchcoat, slacks and either a black t-shirt or a black turtleneck, plus his mask, gloves and hi-tech bandolier. Later on, Grifter takes this even further, and either just wears regular street clothes or a black t-shirt, combat pants, combat boots and a bulletproof vest.
- Cold Sniper: During Team 7 and in various missions of the WildCATS, Grifter takes this place in the team.
- Con Man: Having this fame in WildStorm continuity, but literally being one during New 52.
- Cool Mask: His famous red mask with white eyes and black marks over them... made with a piece of fabric.
- Though the mask is apparently bulletproof and can also serve as an air filter in a pinch.
- Crossover: Being the famous character he was in WildStorm, Grifter received various crossovers not just in WildStorm itself (like his team-up with Midnighter):
- With the Wild CATS: he made team with the X-Men, Spawn and the Justice League of America, and fought against the Aliens and... the Justice League again.
- Alone as Grifter: he teamed up with Shi, Badrock, The Mask and in DC Comics, he was part of The Resistance in Flashpoint and fought against Green Arrow in his New 52 solo series.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: When Grifter fights former Stormwatch member Cannon, the fight's initially going Cannon's way. Except turns out Grifter's been briefed on Cannon's powers, and knows all he has to go is wait until Cannon energy charge runs out. Grifter then proceeds to pummel him into unconsciousness in seconds.
- Cut the Safety Rope: A flashback shows that, when Cole confronted his former mentor Arp, who had gone rogue, in the alps, Arp, instead of shooting Cole when he had the chance, shot his own safety rope, and fell to his apparent death.
- Driven to Suicide:
- In the Wildstorm continuity, Grifter was exposed to an experimental drug called Gen Factor, which activated latent psionic abilities, but often drove those exposed to it insane, often to the point of suicide.
- At least one issue (the one-off written by Grant Morrison) states that Grifter's smoking habit is basically one drawn-out suicide attempt. He even threatens to sue the Surgeon General for failing to deliver on his warnings. Of course, since he's undercover as essentially a washed-out version of himself at the time it's debatable how genuine that is.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Grifter is prone to doing this. After he leaves the team (and seemingly loses his chance at getting back together with Zealot) during the Wildstorm Rising event, the first thing Cole does is hole up in a hotel room with a bottle of cheap whiskey.
- Expansion Pack Past: Grifter has suffered a bit from this. Initially he was just supposed to have been a covert operative who hooked up with Zealot and became her partner-in-crime all the way back in '72. But then creators started adding wrinkles to everything, like his time as a member of Team 7 in the 1970s or his time held prisoner by a South American military junta. While Brandon Choi and Michael Ryan's Gen 12 mini-series does a good job of explaining how most of these pieces fit together, some things, like Cole's time working for the C.I.A., or the period of time when he left Zealot and took off on his own, haven't been addressed.
- Fights Like a Normal: Despite having psionic powers, Grifter usually depends on his own marksmanship skills and his training with the Coda to fight against Daemonites and other enemies and menaces, using his powers only in extreme cases.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Grifter once had both of his legs shattered. Thankfully for him, his healing factor meant that he eventually regained the use of his legs.
- Guns Akimbo: In pretty much all his post-Team 7 appearances, Grifter dual wields handguns.
- Gunslinger: Mostly of the Gun Fu variety, but he can bust out Improbable Aiming Skills if the need arises and/or circumstances permit.
- Heartbroken Badass: Grifter had it rough in the aftermath of ''Fire from Heaven''. Not only did his best friend, Michael Cray, sacrifice himself to stop the Big Bad, his teammate Spartan regained memories of his life as Wildstorm's first superhero John Colt - who who was a part of Jacob Marlowe/Emp's Kheran expedition and had a fling with Grifter's flame Zealot. At one point Grifter catches the two kissing passionately. "That's when the mask comes in useful," indeed.
- High-Altitude Interrogation: Cole has used this technique from time to time, such as when dangled a Department P.S.I. agent from a hospital window by his tie to get information on where Lynch (who was comatose at the time) was moved to, or during a brief scene from James Robinson's Wil DCATS run when he interrogates a Daemonite by hanging him upside down from the top of a building, Batman-style.
- I Know You're Watching Me: During Cole's first trip to I.O. headquarters, he makes a hidden camera watching him, and stares right at it. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that he was just a teenager with no training back then. I.O. Director Miles Craven even comments on Cole's amazing "perceptual awareness".
- Improvised Weapon: In Point Blank #2, Cole is fighting an IO agent, and resorts to shoving the agent's head into a toilet, which proves quite effective.
- Just Following Orders: When Cole and Lynch have an argument over Slayton's role in their fateful mission in Leningrad, Cole makes it clear he doesn't buy this excuse.Lynch: I paid for Leningrad. We all paid. You can't blame Slayton.Cole: If you say he was just following orders, I swear I'll—!
- Latex Perfection: Cole uses one of these to pose as Agent Brockmeyer when Commander Thomas Morgan interviews him in Gen 12.
- Meaningful Name: Not at first, granted, but eventually writers evidently cottoned onto the actual meaning of his name and Grifter started outwitting his enemies almost as much as outshooting them; it's also pretty much assumed that every time he's shown playing cards (which happens more often that one might think) he's probably cheating.
- Midfight Weapon Exchange: Grifter and his brother, Condition Red, end up swapping weapons while fighting Little Johnny Dollars' forces, so that Grifter uses one of his own V.A.D.s and one of Condition Red's guns, and vice versa.
- Mr. Vice Guy: sarcastic, standoffish, foulmouthed, not averse to a bit of petty crime on the side, occasionally a bigot, chain-smoker and a bit of a drunk. Still unambiguously on the side of the good guys.
- Noodle Incident: The Leningrad incident, first referenced in The Kindred mini-series, although that incident is eventually depicted in the pages of Team 7: Dead Reckoning.
- When Grifter encounters an arms dealer in Grifter volume 2 #12, he mentions the last time they met was in Pamplona and had something to do with the Running of the Bulls.
- Odd Friendship: With Midnighter, who sometimes made a Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with Grifter to finish an enemy in common, as in their mini-series Grifter/Midnighter.
- Older Than They Look: In Sleeper, Holden Carver (who looks to be about the same age as Grifter) narrates that he'd heard stories about what a badass Cole Cash was since he was a little kid. He also mentions that Cash's been a special operative since the seventies. It varies from artist to artist, but Grifter looks to be in his early to mid-thirties at most. This is confirmed in Team 7, when one of the secondary effects of being affected by the Gen Active is his Healing Factor that makes him grow slower than the rest (probably having more than 50s when he joined WildCATS).
- Only in It for the Money: Grifter encounters more than a few of these types of mercenary. Whereas Grifter tends to be more principled and follow a code (most of the time, anyway), mercs like Tanager, Charlatan or Cole's old training officer Arp will pretty much work for anyone and do anything for the right price.
- Outfit Decoy: Grifter tosses one of Odyssey's men, wearing his mask, trenchcoat and gloves, in front of his comrades. The soldier gets riddled with bullets, and Grifter proceeds to pop up and gun the others down.
- Pillow Pistol: When Max comes back as a zombie and breaks into Cole's apartment in the middle of the night, Cole reaches under his pillow for a semi-automatic pistol.
- Psychic Block Defense: As a result of Zealot teaching Cole how to remove (as well as recover when necessary) his Psychic Powers, his mind is almost impossible (according to Tao) to break into. Emphasis on almost, though, seeing as Tao did eventually find a way in. Later on, Lynch gives Cole all-new, even more powerful psychic blocks, to the point where Cole is now immune to Peter Grimm's powers (which can even cut through Holden Carver's defenses, and are basically more powerful than even Tao's).
- Psychic Powers: The experiment he was part of gives him psionic powers, being one of the most powerful characters of WildStorm universe. However, he can lost control of it and can going to be Driven to Suicide, so he prefer not to use it (unless in extreme cases) and going to Fight Like a Normal.
- The origin of his powers: in WildStorm (Team 7) he was part of a false mission in which all his team became guinea pigs for an experiment to create metahumans basing on radiation (called as the "Gen Factor"). This was changed with his reboot in New 52 with the Daemonites abduction got them as a side effect, discovered in the last numbers of his solo series.
- Ray Gun: Grifter's V.A.D.s.
- Remember the New Guy?: Cole and his friend Michael Cray witness their former Team 7 comrade Stephen Callahan and his family being ambushed by I.O. forces. When Callahan's wife Rachel is shot dead, Cole shouts out her name... even though they didn't have a single scene together, and she hadn't even been with Callahan for long.
- Stun Gun: Grifter's V.A.D.s have a non-lethal setting (that is, when they're portrayed as firing lasers and not bullets).
- Unwitting Pawn: Everything Grifter does in Point Blank just furthers Tao's agenda; and, to add insult to injury, he's left with no memories of the whole thing at the end.
- Wall of Weapons: Cole has one of these in The Wild Storm.
Grifter: The choice isn't the only thing that's hard.
- The OG Grifter once found himself in the armory of the Authority's Carrier. Saying he was giddy with happiness would be selling it waaay short:
- Why Am I Ticking?: Mobster Little Johnny Dollar hatches up a slightly convoluted scheme to kill Condition Red by having him assigned to protect a woman who's set to take the witness stand against Little Johnny Dollar... except it turns out that the woman was working for Little Johnny Dollar all along; she's got terminal cancer and is in debt to him, and the mobster agreed not to go after her daughter if she let him place an explosive device inside her stomach so she could kill Condition Red for him.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Exposure to Gen Factor can give you psionic powers, but it might also make you insane.
- Wolverine Publicity: This is seen often in the first incarnation of WildStorm in which Grifter was one of the most known characters of this brand and was put into every issue they could do.
- Wolverine Wannabe: Grifter takes after Wolverine minus the claws, but otherwise possesses many traits including: he was a former military in Team 7 and part of the unwilling experiment of radiation to becoming a Human Weapon. Like most of his partners of the Team 7, he rebelled against their bosses and deserted to get a career as a superhero by his own, joining to the WildCATS. He has an advanced Healing Factor, in one time he was the "Betty" in the Love Triangle between the amazon Zealot and The Hero Spartan, and has the Wolverine Publicity for the WildStorm publisher.
- Would Hit a Girl: In Grifter's own words, "I don't like decking women— but what can I say? I get a little politically incorrect when my life is on the line."
- You Fight Like a Cow: Grifter loves doing this, even when he's sparring with someone.Cole: (fighting his old hand-to-hand instructor's new students) I remember when your flunkies showed talent. Things get so slow you have to recruit out of drunk tanks now?