Read about one of the Outhousers' favorite characters in the weekly Character Spotlight! This week, we look at the famous 80s creation of John Ostrander and Tim Truman, Grimjack!
In the pandimensional city of Cynosure, the metropolis at the center of all multiverses, is a slum. The slum of all slums, a place called simply The Pit. There you will find a bar named Munden's. In that bar you'll find a man named John Gaunt, better known on the streets as Grimjack. He's for hire if you meet his price and he chooses to take the job. John was born and bred in The Pit. It was there that he was forced into the arena as a gladiator, and there that his fame as one of the greatest would earn him the nickname "Grinner" because of his death's head smile.
But then, as all Cynosurians know, all dimensions and realities eventually come into phase with Cynosure. Hell came to Cynosure and its denizens invaded. John was freed to join the armies that fought back. In the Demon Knights he would gain his symbol, the Demon Star. A badge made of yellow silver, or "piss silver" as John called it, a totem that could induce tremendous pain in a demon near or in contact with it. A way to know your friend is still your friend. Once the war was over and Hell was sealed back away, John would join the cops of Cynosure as a street cop of reputation. It was later that he would be drafted into a black ops organization where John would complete not only his training, but make some very powerful enemies. After years of this and mercenary work, he owned Munden's and lived in the back of it. He was past his prime and still had many enemies. But it doesn't end there....
Eventually John would pass and receive his reward, heaven. But his friends were in danger due to his absence. He couldn't stand for that. So he walked out on heaven and was reborn into a clone of himself. An old client had fallen in love with him and wanted him despite his refusal and death. His soul was attracted to the clone. He saved his friends and due to the laws on clones, chose the name Joe Chaney to bypass it and resume his life. His friends sadly took to calling him Clonejack. Still doesn't end...
200 years after the last death of John Gaunt, James Edgar Twilley aka "Grimjim" enters Munden's and claims it as the reincarnation of John Gaunt. It's a legal claim and proven so much to the present owner's, that is, prior owner's ire. Grimjack's life continues as it always was...
The Future... John Gaunt is reborn, this time as twins. Sisters.
The character's greatest appeal is like that of any of Humphry Bogart's film noir characters. He was and is a nasty, gritty guy with a twisted past, but also possesses a sense of honor, loyalty and in the end honesty. With the John Gaunt era we see something like we saw in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. A character well past his prime, but still capable and still trying. We'll see all that contrasted by the choice of his friends and how they interact with him and why they do. Later we'll see how getting second chances are not all that great, and how such a person can be so very human in the way the live them. In the end, that's his greatest appeal, being one of the most human you'll encounter in comics. He tries, he succeeds but sometimes, he fails. Even when he succeeds.
The top storylines of Grimjack are really best described as the different eras of the character. The John Gaunt era gave us the starting point and built it all from there. The Joe Chaney era gave us the aftermath of the choices John made. The James Twilley era showed just how much things can change and not change. Instead, the really thing to note is not so much the storylines, but the high points of the eras. The punctuation stories for the characters make it worth it.
But one of the best of these was the Futurejack story. It was the last Joe Channey story and it had a wonderful bittersweet quality to it. Both futile and hopeful are two words to describe how Grimjack became a reincarnatiing character. It showed so much of his human flaws as well.
Grimjack Can Even Beat Superman?
Yes, he can as he is already owned by his creators and they can do anything they wish as they created him. Add to this that the character has had a great line of creators work on him. John Ostrander, Tim Truman, Tom Mandrake, Tom Sutton, Steve Pugh, Flint Henry, Sam Grainger and Kelly Jones.
Where is Grimjack now?
Presently you can still find Grimjack via IDW Publishing as both John Ostrander and Tim Truman have gained back the rights to Grimjack. To date, the original comics have been reprinted as well as a couple of mini series that add to the John Gaunt era of stories.
The three incarnations of Grimjack - John Gaunt, Joe Chaney and James Twilley!
The Demon Star!
Written or Contributed by: Cat-Scratch