What happens when we die? It’s an old question, one that only the dead have been able to answer so far. There are people who have had near-death experiences and been resuscitated after their heart has stopped, but even those accounts vary. What do you think happens after death? I’m fairly certain we just go into the dirt, but that’s not a very interesting story. What if – after your demise – the angel of death resurrected you, making a bargain with you to do his bidding. Harvesting the souls of monsters – that is to say: pedophiles, murderers, rapists. Would you take that deal? A lot of people would definitely say yes. People like Grace.
Grace is an independent comic created and illustrated by C. W. Thayer. The comic is also written by him with collaboration from Ron Milts on issues 3 and 4. There are four issues of the comic available over at Inland Blue Comics, with a fifth on the way!
On page two of the first issue Grace gets shot seven times and dies. And before you go decrying spoilers and turning away from this review, just know that this isn’t even the most shocking revelation in the comic so far. Grace is solicited by a mysterious being named Azrael who makes a deal with Grace. “Kill the bad men and you’ll get to live again. You’ll have enhanced everything and even if you get killed you’ll come back – it’ll hurt, but you’ll come back.” Pretty sweet deal if you’re into the whole vigilante killer thing. Grace thinks so, until it actually comes down to doing the deed.
Grace receives flashes and visions, they highlight who her target is and where they will be. And these are some nasty people. A pimp stringing along his girls with drugs and violence, a middle-aged woman trafficking in human flesh, a deceptive family man who remorselessly abuses his young son. All kinds of monsters. But what about the moral ramifications of taking another life? Grace grapples with that throughout the comic and I have a feeling most people would feel the same. Especially if, once you’ve got the vision of your target, you go into a sort of autopilot mode and kind of watch yourself go through the stalking and killing of these monsters.
There’s plenty more of the plot that I could go through over the course of the four issues, but let’s leave some of the surprises for prospective readers, shall we?
Thayer has developed a very interesting premise in Grace. And like all good art it makes one question their own convictions after having experienced it. Not only does the reader grapple with the premise of the comic, but there’s also a bit of mystery involved in the telling of the story so far. Grace isn’t necessarily unique, and Thayer – with Ron Milts writing a lot of the later issues – drops just enough hints and tidbits to keep the reader interested. It’s definitely a page turner in that regard.
Tackling an entire comic on your own is definitely a massive undertaking. Yes, you have the advantage of not having to explain your vision to another artist, but let’s be honest – that’s a lot of work! Thayer seems to be up to the task. Four comics published with a fifth on the way, all illustrated by him? That’s something to be proud of. It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of the comic is black and white, using color sparingly to great effect. It’s a very moody comic and the art has it bordering somewhere between noir/mystery and The Walking Dead. Even in its minimalism there are moments of excitement, sentiment, and intrigue. Do not underestimate this series.
Comics can be about anything. Literally. Anything. And it’s comics like Grace that demonstrate that point. Here’s hoping modern comics don’t go changing!