"Grifter" #9 doesn't do anything for the title that a creative team change should do on a poorly selling title. Rob Liefeld has been brought in to straighten the ship aided by Frank Tieri on dialogue and the result is an issue with an action set piece that means nothing followed by a whole mess of talking that tells you everything while showing you nothing but two people in a cabin. There is no real excitement and little craft on display.
Liefeld wants to change this title up. He wants to go bigger, he wants to get badder -- he is here to write the definitive Grifter. In order to do this he needs to change up a few elements of the book. Rather than subtly break the mythos apart and make it his own, he injects a character to the narrative to tell Grifter things are now different. Perhaps with this shocking new path so blatantly mapped out, the book will be free to carve a new and revelatory path. However, it's done with such a heavy hand that most will not come back to find out how the new status quo shakes up.
It says a lot about a book when a female hero finally gets out of the snow into her cabin and decides to strip off the parts of her outfit that cover her chest and thighs. Why Niko feels the need to drop down to such a skimpy look to deliver her exposition and then redress to head back out is beyond the realm of nuanced storytelling. Logic goes out the window if there's the possibility to have a woman's chest on display. This is the quality of story the book deals in.
Scott Clark is given plenty of room to have his art breathe but he doesn't do much with it. There are three different double splash pages and Clark makes two of them interesting in their own unique ways. Grifter snowboarding off a cliff and firing double guns back over his head is a great way to start the issue. A known colleague walking through a door is not going to need two pages to get the grandeur across. In between, Clark makes Grifter look like an over the hill Sears model who has had one too many corrective surgeries.
The main problem with this issue is the pacing. The conversation drags over too many pages with two to three panels per page where nothing happens. There is little sense of effective storytelling in the art or the words.
"Grifter" #9 is an action comic that forgets to justify or even deliver the action. For a guy whose trademark is firing guns and a new lady who wields two swords, our leads do an inordinate amount of talking. Worst of all, the talking barely establishes character. Hopefully the title improves now Liefeld has wiped the slate but I'm not sure I'll wager my money on that gamble.