Major Story Arcs
Grendel-Prime breaks into the complex in the Dakotas where Jupiter Niklos Assante, child heir to the Orion Assante, the first Grendel-Khan, resides. Jupiter's step-sister, Crystal, lives there as well. Prime knows of the structure's security measures as well as the codes to make his way through the building. Prime kills all of the guards protecting the children, and takes Jupiter with him. Jupiter's step-mother (and Crystal's mother) Laurel Kennedy, who has been ruling the world as Regent until Jupiter is old enough, and who has been keeping the children under house arrest in the Dakotas as she builds her own power base, arrives at the compound to find the destruction and devastation caused by Prime. She dispatches a squadron of Red Devils in pursuit of the abductor. Prime easily slays the Red Devils. He is obviously taking care of Jupiter, and has not simply kidnapped him. He begins to train Jupiter in basic survival skills.
Grendel-Prime brings Jupiter to Chicago, where he kills a gang of toughs who confront them, and he slaughters a group of aggressive rednecks on the road soon after. Kennedy continues to track their progress as they make their way toward New York City. Outside of New York City, Grendel is stopped by the Guardians of Pain, a gang who controls entrance to the city now known as "the pit." In order to appease them Grendel makes a gesture of pain by hurling himself off a bridge, bouncing off the rocky shores into the river below. The guardians allow the pair entrance into the city. Prime and Assante travel through the pit, encountering toxic mutant zombies as well as robot extermination drones. They leave the city, hoping that their time there will have convinced Laurel that they are dead.
Their detour through the pit proves to be in vain as Laurel Kennedy continued to track them down to the Louisiana bayous, where Prime has to wrestle and kill and alligator that gets too close to Jupiter. They are chased through the swamps by a squadron of Red Devils. Assistance comes from an old swamp witch whose illusions convince the Red Devils and Laurel Kennedy that Prime and Jupiter died during an explosion in the swamps. Prime and Jupiter make their way to a freighter at the docks and go out to sea.
On the ocean the freighter is chased down by a pirate ship. Prime knows that the ship's crew can't hold their own against a pirate attack, and plans a diversion to gain the element of surprise. Prime kills four members of the ship's crew and spreads their blood amongst the rest of the crew, who lay on the deck pretending to be dead. The pirates board to find what looks like a mass suicide until Prime springs into action. There is a massive battle and the pirates are killed. Prime and Jupiter make their way through the ocean alone. He blows up the freighter, including the remaining crew, in hopes of continuing to keep Kennedy off their tracks. Clearly there is nothing he will not do to protect Jupiter.
After two weeks of exposure on the open water, Grendel and Jupiter finally make it to the African coast. Grendel is physically exhausted and delirious as he makes his way to a river to provide water for the pair. Just upstream a tranquilizer is applied to the water so that Prime and Jupiter may be easily captured. Because of his current state it takes Prime much longer to recover from the tranquilizer than the child. He is greeted by the leader of a tribe that remains loyal to Grendel-Khan. After proving himself loyal, Prime is allowed to continue on his journey with Jupiter. He disguises Jupiter as a local and they make their way towards the mountains. They are chased by the Red Devils up to the foot of the mountain where they break off. Prime fights off another tribe and a mountain gorilla before being able to proceed, but at this point their cover is blown. Heath, Laurel's Intelligence Minister, finds out that Grendel-Prime and Jupiter Assante are still alive and in the African jungle. However, he does not tell Laurel, and starts to use this information to strengthen his own grip on power, as Laurel becomes increasingly marginalized.
While traveling through the OPEC nuclear wastelands Prime and Assante stop at a ruined stone building to retrieve fresh water from a well. They are taken captive by a group of mutants that blame technology for all of their problems. Grendel-Prime, weakened from the radiation, is unable to fight all of them off and is nearly executed. A group of rebels that oppose the rule of Laurel Kennedy, led by Azif A Barouk, defeat the mutants and knock Prime out from behind. He awakens underneath the ruins of the Vatican to find himself partially disassembled and paralyzed from the neck down. His captors know of Jupiter's identity and interrogate Prime about what he is doing with Jupiter. Prime activates a holographic projection of Orion, in which he gives the bearer permission to do whatever he needs in the name of the Grendel-Khan. It turns out that Grendel-Prime was created by Orion as his personal paladin through a secret plan called Project Athena. He actually died several times in the process of being turned into a cyborg. He is now charged with protecting Jupiter until he is old enough to rule. While Azif and his rebels are deciding what to do with Prime, a group of vampires kills Jupiter's guards and kidnaps Jupiter. When news gets to Azif, they reassemble Grendel Prime and he recharges himself with their generators. Just then, another group of Red Devils attacks. They defeat the Devils but almost all of the rebels are killed as well.
Prime and the remaining rebels travel through the Siberian desert to find Jupiter. After battling more Red Devils, they are buried under an avalanche. Prime uses his solar energy to melt them all out of the snow. By this point his power source is extremely depleted by exertion. They locate Jupiter's signal at an abandoned missile silo, and battle through the vampire hoards as they enter inside. Within the missile silo they locate the still-functional power generator. Grendel-Prime is able to recharge himself, making him completely battle-ready again. The team saves Jupiter and kills most of the vampires, including two old enemies of past Grendels, Kierch and Pellon Cross, whom Grendel Prime stabs through the head with his laser sword. That evening they watch on the television as Laurel Kennedy's role is fully taken over by Heath. The young Jupiter realizes that this is not the appropriate time for him to re-appear. Taking charge himself for the first time, he orders that they remain in hiding in the wilderness.
Ten years pass, and in that time Jupiter trains himself and builds the power of the rebel army. They finally decide the time is right to take over. They make their way through the Bering Strait and down through North America. It is there that they discover Jupiter's step-sister, Crystal Kennedy. Crystal had escaped her mother with her bodyguard/lover Susan Veraghen around the time Jupiter was kidnapped. Crystal decides to go with Jupiter and Azif to confront Laurel in the Dakotas. Meanwhile, Grendel-Prime, Susan, and the other rebels attack the Sun House, the seat of Heath's government, which contains Orion Assante's legendary weapon the Sun Disc. The rebels literally catapult him through the roof of the Sun House, after which he cuts his way through the guards and runs towards the Sun Disc. Orion Assante had implanted the components required to activate the Sun Disc within Grendel Prime's mechanical body. He turns on the Sun Disc and destroys a satellite orbiting the Earth, giving Jupiter access to the worldwide communication network he needs to proclaim his status as Grendel-Khan.
Jupiter becomes the new Khan with the happy agreement of the public. However, soon after helping Jupiter to take back the throne, Grendel-Prime leaves. The duty he was charged with was to assist Jupiter in seizing control, and now his job is finished. He rides off, never to be seen by Jupiter again.
Many years later, Jupiter's grandson, Jupiter III, is the Grendel-Khan. He is a weak ruler and will do anything to keep his grip on power. Hoping to bask in his grandfather's glory, he hires the Session twins, Brilla and Maggie, to find Grendel-Prime. The criminal Wyotek Jones similarly hires Hitchcock Blue to try to find him first. Prime hasn't been seen in hundreds of years.
Prime, meanwhile, is working with Dr. Creach on a machine to make contact with the spirit of Hunter Rose. He wants to find the true meaning of Grendel, which he feels has been lost. In order to power the machine, he needs diamonds, and goes to a mine to get them. A lone miner, Glory Younglove, works there. He warns her to stay away while he gets the diamonds, but she doesn't, and she is fatally wounded in the process. He kills her out of mercy. He gets the diamonds and returns to Creach.
They also need living people to power the machine. Grendel-Prime has been working with the underground figure Vaseline Tsunami for a long time, getting over 2000 slaves and other weak or undesirable people that he can sacrifice to the machine.
The final ingredient is a fragment of the skull of Hunter Rose, which they apparently get from the Khan's archives somehow. They build the machine in New York under the site of Rose's home.
They finally get the right ingredients, and the machine activates. Grendel-Prime steps in to communicate with Rose. However, the Session Twins arrive and blast the machine. Grendel-Prime is accidentally sent back in time to the era of Batman, in the Batman/Grendel II crossover (see below under Other Versions, although the crossover is usually considered canon for Grendel-Prime).
After Prime disappears, the Sessions assume he was destroyed and leave. Hitchcock Blue shows up soon after and finds the skull fragment. He later throws it away, and only a few minutes later Grendel-Prime is ejected from it, returning from the past in a highly damaged condition. He kills a man who saw him appear, grabs his bike, and rides off.
Powers and Abilities
Grendel-Prime is a cyborg created by Orion I. His body possesses superhuman strength and durability. His mechanical body is usually solar powered, but he can also recharge himself using electrical power sources. When he is unable to recharge himself he will lose power through exertion, and is then more susceptible to injury and defeat by enemies. Within Prime's mechanical body Orion also built in the necessary components to operate the Sun Disc, an extremely powerful weapon commissioned by the Khan.
His strength has never been fully tested, but in his earlier incarnation there is no indication that he can lift more than a few tons. His hand-to-hand fighting style often incorporates his strength to break his opponent's bones. He is capable of physically grappling with an alligator and a gorilla. After he is rebuilt (Past Prime, Devil Quest, Batman/Grendel II), he is seemingly stronger, capable of lifting a 25-foot-tall, multi-ton mech, and ripping its armor off with his bare hands.
His durability is such that he was able to be catapulted across a city, creating a crater when he hit the ground, and walked away with no problem. In another case, he jumped off a high bridge and hit several rocks on the way down, and survived, although he felt pain afterwards. He is bullet- and arrow-proof. After being rebuilt, he survived a missile barrage without apparent damage. He is essentially immune to radiation, although it drains his energy. He can breathe normally in toxic atmospheres.
He can create a solar flare around his body that can melt materials including ice, steel mesh, and synthetic adhesives, although this drains him of much of his energy.
He can detect Jupiter through a remote homing beacon, up to several hundred miles away.
He is an expert at unarmed combat, capable of fighting many foes simultaneously. Prime is also adept with many forms of weapons. Grendel-Prime often uses a laser sword in combat. He also uses a gauntlet that can shoot small missiles and can create an energy shield on his arm. He also often carries and uses various pistols and rifles.
He often rides a hover bike with a sidecar. This bike is capable of traveling over land and water for great distances, including intercontinental ocean travel. It has metal shields that can protect the sidecar against most conventional attacks. He can summon the bike by remote control.
Grendel-Prime is very adept at wilderness survival skills.
He can speak most African languages, and presumably many other languages as well.
In the era of Jupiter III, he has rebuilt himself with new abilities. He has spear-like rods that can project out of his shoulders and arms. He is also able to fly.
In the Batman crossover, he shows numerous abilities. He can survive being hit by a tractor trailer. He can kick through the bottom of a bridge and can easily punch through police bulletproof shields. He is resistant to electrical charges, although they can knock him out of they are powerful enough.
If he is disassembled, he can remotely control his separated body parts.
In the second Batman/Grendel crossover, Grendel-Prime travels back in time to modern Gotham City (see Devil Quest, above, for how he gets there). He appears in a museum exhibit on mass murderers which includes the skull of Hunter Rose. Commissioner Gordon and the police are there to guard the exhibition, and he attacks them, viciously killing thirteen of them easily. Batman arrives. He blasts Batman in the chest with a police shotgun, and they fight. Batman covers him with some solidifying goo, but Grendel-Prime melts his way out of it. This lowers his energy supply, so he jumps out of the building.
Batman chases him. Grendel-Prime is hit by a tractor trailer but isn't injured. He kicks his way through the bottom of the bridge and leaps to the river far below. Later, it procures a large stock of weapons from local gangs. Then it goes to a Wayne electronics building which Batman (realizing that he is solar-powered) has advertised to be working on advanced solar technology. Prime tries to hook himself up to the energy source but doesn't have the passwords. He finds an employee and has him do it for him.
Right after he is re-powered, Batman shows up. He catches him with an electrified net design specifically to resist Grendel-Prime's powers, but he cuts his way out with his laser sword. They fight again, and he beats Batman badly, breaking his arm and knocking him out.
He forces the hacker employee to leave with him, and then to help him build a time machine so he can return to his own time. This process will also perpetuate a mysterious explosion and blood sacrifice that will help him communicate with the spirit of Hunter Rose.
Batman later builds some technology which shorts him out in their third fight. Batman takes him apart and finds his organic brain still inside. He scans his computer memory, learning that Grendel-Prime lived with Susan Veraghen for many years, and then for centuries more on his own after Jupiter's reign, continually improving his own design until he was awoken by a mysterious mystic and sent back to our time.
Grendel-Prime rebuilds himself and escapes. He manages to get Hunter Rose's skull from the museum, and is about to complete the ritual when he is interrupted by Batman. Robin shoots the skull out of his hands with an arrow, leaving a large hole in the forehead (which is later seen in in-continuity Grendel issues). Grendel-Prime manages to return to his future without completing the ritual, and Batman takes possession of Rose's skull, placing it in the Batcave.
In Other Media
Grendel: Past Prime is a novel, written by Greg Rucka and heavily illustrated by Matt Wagner. It is considered canon within the overall Grendel mythos. It focuses on Susan Veraghen's search for Grendel-Prime, as alluded to in Batman/Grendel II, and takes place after Homecoming, although it has several flashbacks to the period between Warchild and Homecoming.
After Jupiter becomes Grendel-Khan, Grendel-Prime leaves and goes into seclusion. Jupiter's sister, Crystal, conspires to have her ex-lover Susan made head of security at the Grendel-Khan's retreat in the Dakotas, so that Crystal can pursue more profitable relationships. After 5 years, neither Crystal nor the Khan visit the Dakotas, and Susan quits in disgust. Unfortunately, just weeks after Susan quits, Jupiter finally visits and is assassinated.
With the Khan's assassination, the Khanate splits into many warring territories, and the once-honorable Grendel clans become self-interested, greedy, and violent. Susan decides to go in search of Grendel-Prime, whom she believes is the one remaining example of what a true Grendel is supposed to be. After three years, her search leads her to the Himalayas.
Susan finally finds the temple where Grendel-Prime has been hiding out. However, she finds him to be utterly still--he intentionally let his power run out, essentially committing suicide after the death of Jupiter. Desperate, Susan pulls his armor off. It is clear that all the cyborg's flesh is rotting. Over days, she cuts off the dead flesh and tries to fix and recharge him.
Anti-Khan and anti-Grendel rebel forces arrives outside the temple, intent on destroying Grendel-Prime, whom they consider to be the last, best symbol of the empire. They think that if they destroy him, they can destroy the empire. They attack, and Susan fends them off for a while, but there are too many. Then suddenly, Grendel-Prime wakes up and slaughters the whole group. Once the battle is over, Susan asks the Paladin, as she calls him, to join her and show the rest of the world what a Grendel is supposed to be. He refuses. Her last hope gone, she prepares to kill herself. Inspired by her sense of duty, Grendel-Prime stops her and agrees to help.
However, he needs more repairs. They go on a quest to find Doctor One, who was one of the scientists who originally built him (the rest of the team of scientists ritually killed themselves when they were done, as requested by Orion). They finally find Doctor One and Susan helps him rebuild and improve Grendel-Prime. Prime particularly wants them to get rid of all his meat; this rebuilding process is an important transition from his earlier, more human and empathetic stage in Warchild to his more robotic, affectless stage in Batman/Grendel II and Devil Quest.
Grendel-Prime tells Susan how he was chosen to become a cyborg. He was originally a general in the Grendel corps. Orion Assante asked him to become the cyborg because he was the best swordsman Orion had ever seen, and the best tactician after Orion himself. He accepts Orion's offer because he had pledged his heart to duty, and that is what being Grendel-Prime means to him.
Back in the present, Susan and Grendel-Prime return to Doctor One for more repairs the next day, but he is gone. The rebel group shows up instead and attacks. Susan is badly wounded and Grendel-Prime runs off.
She wakes up in prison, but escapes and finds Grendel-Prime, who has been tracking her via a bug he implanted in her, much like the one he had in the young Jupiter. The Paladin never abandoned her. He names her as his squire, finally giving her a truly fulfilling role in life. He, in turn, feels that she is the one person who will not let him down. They attack the rebel stronghold. Grendel-Prime easily slaughters most of the army with his sword and guns without a concern in the world. Then he is attacked by the Great Machine, a giant two-legged mech, armed with multiple projectile and energy cannons and missile batteries, and created by Doctor One. The mech is heavily armored as well as armed, and proves to be more of a challenge. Ultimately it steps on him and almost crushes him. However, Grendel-Prime manages to recharge himself through the newly-rising rays of the sun. He lifts the mech off his back and throws back the multi-ton machine, then destroys it. He also kills Doctor One; Susan kills the rebel leader, Barabbas.
After the battle, Grendel-Prime and Susan go off together as a pair, paladin and squire, united in their sense of honor and duty. As related in Batman/Grendel II, Susan stays with Grendel-Prime until she dies of old age, after which he never again has a human companion.