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Menacing, moody, and faithful to the eighth-century epic, Hinds's rendering draws on a translation evoking Old English verse. We begin with the sea burial of ruler Scyld and follow great-grandson Hrothgar and the monster Grendel's attacks on Hrothgar's clan. Then Beowulf arrives from Geatland and takes on-in breathtaking hand-to-hand combat-first Grendel and subsequently Grendel's troll-hag mother. With triumph and treasure, he sails home to become the good ruler of Geatland. But years later, a fearsome dragon threatens, and the aging Beowulf slays the dragon but dies himself. The epic ends full circle with another funeral. Hinds's evocative art renders the fight scenes with great power, and although the voice-over text in Celtic-style lettering is not easy to read, it's worth the effort, especially read aloud.
Gaiman takes a different approach, re-working the original plot by shifting Grendel's mother to a witch-temptress character. Instead of fighting Beowulf, she makes a devil's bargain with him as she had with Hrothgar, lust and greed overcoming both men. Accompanied by modern-style dialog, the art is more classic than Hinds's, although with much the same dank coloring. Old English purists may hate it, but it's a compelling, well-drawn story based on the new film. While Old English terrors originated in outside forces, modern terrors are born from our own flaws. Hinds's is for teens up, and Gaiman's (with sexual references) for ages 18+.