We open on a blonde man on an airplane who is hearing voices in his head, which are talking about killing him. Despite all appearances to the contrary, he is not crazy. This is our hero, Cole Cash. A flashback reveals that Cole is a confidence trickster – the titular Grifter – and that he was abducted off the street while on the way to meet his girlfriend/partner after pulling a con. His abductors were some form of alien being, who referred to him as a host, and Cole was just barely able to escape with his life. The experience left him with an ability to sense when someone is an alien in a human body and to overhear the aliens’ telepathic communications. By issue’s end, we learn that Cole is apparently ex-military and that top men are nervous about what his apparent PTSD breakdown may expose and send a special agent – Cole’s own brother – to deal with him.
This issue drops us in the middle of it and doesn’t let up for a section. The plot is fairly standard Science-Fiction 101 – the alien menace masquerading as normal humans to invade from within – but we rarely see this sort of thing in a superhero book. The action sequences are amazing on their own but what I really love this book is how writer Nathan Edmondson is able to subtly introduce us to Cole Cash as a character with very little of the info dumps used by other writers on other New 52 titles.
The artwork is damn good too. Most of Cafu’s previous work has been on Superman titles and this book does have a good, traditional superhero comic look, with lots of thin lines and light inks by Jason Gorder. There’s a danger in a book like this of going too dark with the artwork, with the coloring palette being too muted or the inks being too heavy. Thankfully, the art team avoids this and creates something that is appropriately atmospheric and heavily detailed yet seemingly streamlined.
I know next to nothing about WildC.A.T.s, so this is another one of the few New 52 titles I was able to go into completely virgin, as it were. So if you’re a long-time Grifter fan who wants to know how much things may have been changed, I’m afraid I won’t be much help. What I can tell you is that this is one of the best of the new comics I’ve read so far and that it won me over with one issue.