This entry covers “Grifter” volume two issues 2 through 4 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi, Richard Friend, Luke Rizzo, Mark Irwin, Danna Stewart, and Peter Guzman
Our old pal Cole Cash is in his hometown of Chicago, and what a better thing to do than to meet up with some family. Well, stepfamily, that is. We see Cole fighting through about a dozen armed guards just to get to the front door of Sam Del Gracci, his stepfather, and notorious mafioso. Cole asks Samif he could use his Chicago connections to look into someone that’s hired him for a freelance job. Sam lets him know that he’s really trying to legitimize his business and that it isn’t the kind of thing he is into anymore. As Cole leaves Sam first admonishes his kids Peter and Anastasia for not greeting Cole and then instructs them to find out if Cole really needs help, or if Cole just wants to kill Sam.
As Peter and Anastasia are checking in on the woman, named Savana Love, that hired Cole, they find her running from an assassin known as Joe the Dead. Joe the Dead’s deal is that he shoots with finger guns and he can’t die. Yikes! Of course, we see Cole come in trying to protect Savana only to be chased off by Joe after a close call. Meanwhile, Savana has escaped, but Anastasia has her held by gunpoint where Savana tells Anastasia that real target is Cole, and she’s delivering him soon for a bounty of two million dollars. Anastasia literally just laughs and walks away.
Joe the Dead catches up with Sam and tells him about his trouble with Savana Love and wants information on Cole. Sam isn’t too forthcoming but agrees to help Joe the Dead when Savana is going to handover Cole to here employer, at a secret Wrigley Stadium meeting. What we watch unfold is Cole getting knocked out by Savana, Savana being stopped of further harm to Cole by Sam and his bodyguard, Joe the Dead killing Savana, the mysterious employer getting into a fistfight with Cole and then Sam accidentally shooting Cole trying to break up that fight. Sam feels like shit over this, he never wanted to hurt Cole, he actually seems a bit sincere in that. But while he’s going on about it, he lets slip that he shot Jake Cole for running a con game on him back in the day. And just like that, the show is over. Cole and Savana are fine, Savana is actually Alicia Turner, Joe the Dead is actually Cole’s FBI pal Joseph Brockmeyer, and it was all an elaborate sting to get Sam to admit he killed Cole’s real dad, for which Brockmeyer arrests Sam.
Cole and Alicia go out for a night on the town to celebrate a successful con only for both of them to wake up chained to a lot of sci-fi nonsense with a maniac screaming at them. The maniac is Mad Jack Power and he wants Cole’s Gen-Factor. As he’s routing around Cole’s memories, looking for his power, Mad Jack keeps implying that they have a past. While Cole can’t seem to figure it out, he knows who can, Alicia. He tells Jack that he gave his power up, to someone he could trust, Mad Jack figures that it must be Alicia and goes to her. Alicia hits him with her own psychic powers and figures out Mad Jack is actually former Team 7 member Richard McNamara! With that info, Cole lets loose on his rarely used Gen-Factor power and tears Mad Jack to shreds. Still trying to cling to life Mad Jack tells Cole how addicting life can be, and it’s hard for him not to leap from body to body, but he’s so low on power, which why he wanted Cole’s Gen-Factor. Cole tells him to let go and Mad Jack turns to ash with both Alicia and Cole unsure if Mad Jack is truly dead or not.
Finally back to New York City, where Cole usually hangs his… bandana/mask. Cole came running because he got an e-mail from an old contact named Raymond saying he’s got information for Cole, but it’s “ears only” kind of info. This get Cole’s attention and he gets out of Chicago and heads to meet Raymond. Turns out people that the information is about found Raymond before Cole, and while Cole breaks it up. But it’s still too late for Raymond. and his parting words are telling Cole there’s a gangster by the name of Little Johnny Dollar who is looking to “Kill Cash.”
While Cole is trying to figure this out, as he’s never heard of a Little Johnny Dollar, he gets surprised by, you guessed it, Little Johnny Dollar and his goons. But if you think Cole is surprised, well, so is Little Johnny Dollar! He doesn’t know Cole, not at all. The Cash he is after is Max! Well, what the hell is Max up to then?
Max is currently playing bodyguard to a woman under police protection at a hotel. In true Max fashion, he ends up seducing her while a cop waits outside. Suddenly there’s a call to the hotel room letting Max know he’s been made. As Max scrabbles to get dressed we see that Cole is the one rushing down the hall guns blazing. Turns out that the woman the Max is protecting as well as the cop are on Little Johnny Dollar’s payroll and are to kill Max. Max doesn’t know this, Cole does, so when Cole kills both the woman and the cop Max is confused and starts going after Cole. As the Cash brothers continue to fire at each other and wrestle they are surrounded by Little Johnny Dollar and his men, once they realize this they give each other a shoulder shrug, take out the goon patrol and go grab a beer.
After a few pints, a handful of shots and a few stories Max lets Cole in on a secret. It’s a big one. Hell, it’s a doozy. Ole Jake Cash? That dude is alive. Sam only thought he’d killed Jake AKA the ultimate con-man! Also, Max knows all this and hadn’t bothered to tell Cole. Max lets Cole know that it didn’t go so well for him when he met Jake, so he doesn’t assume that Cole will fare any better. But Max knows Cole can’t stop himself from going, so he lets on that dear ole poppa Cash is somewhere down in New Orleans.
- After the events of “Gen12” issue 2, Cole is still in Chicago after meeting with Commander Thomas Morgan at the Sear’s Tower.
- I figure that Alicia catches up with Cole in Chicago to make sure the meeting with Commander Thomas Morgan worked out right and he brings up this plan to help bust his dear old stepdad.
- When Sam and Cole talk, Sam mentions he’s heard Cole has been “heroing these days” to which Cole reacts to by saying “that gig sort of crashed… I’ve been freelancing,” which kinda tracks if you thank about it, and it influenced the reading order as I’ve laid out. Cole quit the team in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 20, does his own thing until the “Fire from Heaven” crossover which was really his war with his Team 7 pals. The WildC.A.T.s team follows to help basically because Zannah was going to help Cole no matter what. When they get back they have the long night of the Crime War, which at the end Cole hasn’t really said if he’s back on the team or not. Especially after all the drama now surrounding Zannah and John Colt/Spartan, I’m not sure he wants to stick around much, so I figure he takes off. He’s not seen back in the “WildC.A.T.s” book until volume one issue 36, and by issue 40 he’s so a part of the team he goes back in time with them. So yeah, I’d still say he isn’t heroing with the ‘CATs and is freelance for the entire run of “Grifter” volume two, and much of it slots easily in-between “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 34 and 35. For all the crimes that Del Gracci has committed, I have to thank him for giving me the perfect opportunity to discuss this continuity reasoning in full!
- I thought for sure the Joseph Brockmeyer was a made-up personality of Cole’s from “Gen12” issue 2, but it’s nice to see he was real, and Cole pretty much gave a straight story to Commander Thomas Morgan on his life and Joseph’s role in it.
- Cole and Alicia muse that they hope that the real Suzana Love and Joe the Dead don’t find out about the con they just pulled impersonating them. We will eventually meet the real Joe the Dead in “Grifter” volume two issue 13 and he really isn’t pleased about the whole thing.
- When Richard McNamara killed himself in “Team 7” issue 2 it turns out his consciousness could move from body to body and he took over the body of the janitor that came to clean up his body. He’d since been through several over the years.
- Wait… what are Roxy and Grunde doing in New York on the first page of issue 4? Maybe Lynch left the kids on the East Coast for a bit after Cray’s funeral and got himself back to La Jolla before them, knowing he was going to be meeting up with Marisa Chambers as seen in the “Black Ops” book. An old spook like Lynch would surely know when someone is honing in on him and made sure the kids were far enough away to be safe, just in case. Plausible enough for me…
I was lucky enough to get some of the writer of “Grifter” volume two Steve Grant and his reaction to this article as well as to his time writing on the book!
Where to find this story:
- Comixology: “Grifter” Volume Two Issues: #2, #3 & #4
NEXT: “JLA / WildC.A.T.s : Crime Machine” one shot by Grant Morrison, Val Semiks, and Kevin Conrad.