Promotional art for Grifter #1 (September, 2011).
Art by Cafu and Bit.
|Publisher||WildStorm (May 1995 - August 1997)
DC (September 2011 - Present)
|First appearance||WildC.A.T.S. #1 (August 1992)|
|Created by||Jim Lee
|Alter ego||Cole Cash|
Grifter (Cole Cash) is a fictional comic book superhero who has appeared in books published by Wildstorm Productions and DC Comics. Created by artist Jim Lee and writer Brandon Choi, he first appeared in WildC.A.T.s #1 (August 1992), as a member of that titular superhero team, during the period when Wildstorm and its properties were owned by Jim Lee. In that incarnation, Grifter is a former government operative and member of the military unit Team 7 and the espionage agency International Operations.
In 1999, Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics, and ownership of all Wildstorm characters, including Grifter, transferred to DC Comics. His backstory and continuity remained the same, however, until DC's 2011 relaunch of their entire comics line, The New 52, which rebooted the continuity for most of its characters. Since then, the character has starred in his own DC series, and has also made appearances in numerous other DC titles, such as Voodoo, Legion Lost, Team 7, Animal Man and Deathstroke.
The character debuted in WildC.A.T.S. #1 (August 1992). He was later a major character in the original Team 7 miniseries. In 1997, co-creator Brandon Choi picked this mini-series as his favorite Grifter story, explaining, "I really enjoyed [writer] Chuck Dixon's portrayal of the team members, especially Cole. He really wove Cole's background into the whole Team 7 story in a very believable fashion.
In June 2011, DC Comics announced that Grifter would be incorporated into the DC Universe in a new ongoing series written by Nathan Edmondson and drawn by CAFU as part of its September 2011 relaunch of its comics properties. Beginning with Grifter #9 in May 2012, series writer Nathan Edmondson was replaced with Rob Liefeld. By issue #16, the title was cancelled. 
Cole Cash's natural talent for combat landed him in black ops, taking the dirtiest jobs as part of a squad known as Team 7 (which also included John "Topkick" Lynch, Marc "Backlash" Slayton, Jackson "Arclight" Dane, Philip "Bulleteer" Chang, Stephen "Wraparound" Callahan, Alex "Slaphammer" Fairchild and Michael "Deathblow" Cray). Cash's codename during these operations was Deadeye. The group was deliberately exposed to an experimental chemical called the Gen Factor, which activated a variety of psi powers in them, but which also detrimentally affected their sense of morality and mental health. After the experiment the survivors were classified as Gen 12. Some of their teammates went mad or committed suicide. One had to be put down by his friends. Cole suspects that in fact their own superiors, International Operations (I.O.), were behind the experiment, while their superiors claimed that it was an unknown chemical weapon. Cole grew more and more disgruntled with I.O.'s manipulations and secrecy and rebelled against team-leader John Lynch. Cash took charge and united the team's mental powers against a nuclear weapon that I.O. team-leader Miles Craven fired at Team 7 as a test. Team 7 went into hiding, but was eventually forced to return to I.O. One of the many missions Team 7 performed was destroying the dictatorship of a small African country. Andrew Johnson, one of the members, goes mad and glories in his ability to make people commit suicide. Disgusted, Cole kills Johnson.
When the powers of many of Team 7's members started to wane, Craven became interested in their children, the Gen¹³, who should have inherited their fathers' powers. Most of the team went into hiding again, while others stayed with I.O. The team finally fell apart and Cole came to work as an assassin for International Operations (I.O.), but he soon became disenchanted with them too. He went freelance, and it was during this period of his life he encountered the ancient Kherubim warrior Zealot. They fell in love, and she took the unprecedented measure of teaching him, a male, the ways of the Coda, the warrior order she had once belonged to. Her Coda-teachings stabilized Cole's sanity and locked away what remained of his psionic powers.[volume & issue needed][volume & issue needed]
Some time later Cole and Zealot broke up; for Zealot it was just another relationship, but Cole had become devoted to her, being eternally grateful to her for restoring his sanity. However they remained on good terms, and both were recruited to become part of Lord Emp's Daemonite hunting team, the WildC.A.T.s. Grifter later quit the team when they had to ally with Hightower, a Daemonite who had killed Grifter's friend Lonely. He rejoined when the team came back from Khera, even being the team's leader for some time. During this time Max Cash, his younger brother, was killed, came back as a zombie and was killed again by Grifter himself. He left the team again after Zealot's apparent death. At this point most of his teammates left as well and the WildC.A.T.s were disbanded.[volume & issue needed]
During a mission for Jack Marlowe - Spartan, Cole's legs were shattered by a FBI double-agent's daughter. Therefore he could no longer operate as Marlowe's field agent. He trained accountant Edwin Dolby (Grifter) to take his place. Dolby turned out to be unsuitable for the violent life that Grifter planned for him and resigned from Halo. After Marlowe apologized to him, he rejoined, but strictly as an accountant. Grifter remodeled the robotic body of former teammate Ladytron as a remote-controlled body for himself.[volume & issue needed]
Several months later, Grifter's legs were healed, a side effect of the dormant Gen-factor according to I.O. scientists. John Lynch, who had woken from his coma, restored Cole's memory. Cole was sent to take down Tao and working together with double-agent Holden Carver, Tao's organization was completely dismantled and Tao was imprisoned.[volume & issue needed]
In the series Captain Atom: Armageddon, Jack Marlowe has died and Cole has taken control of Halo Corporation and all its assets. In issue #8 of the series Cole was killed by Apollo and Midnighter of The Authority, but was revived along with the rest of the WildStorm universe in the "WorldStorm" storyline.[volume & issue needed]
WildCats vol. 4
The fourth WildCats series has shown Cole to be a man who has attempted to change himself, but keeps getting sucked back in to the hero lifestyle. He appears to be an employee of Hadrian as a core member of the new WildCats team that he is assembling.[volume & issue needed]
Grifter & Midnighter
In March 2007 a mini-series, Grifter & Midnighter was launched, charting the team up between Grifter and Midnighter, written by Chuck Dixon, with art by Ryan Benjamin.
In the alternate timeline of the 2011 "Flashpoint" storyline, Grifter is the leader of the United Kingdom's resistance movement against the Amazons. In a flashback, Grifter assembles Team 7 to battle against Muslim extremists in the Middle East, until they were killed. Grifter was saved by Penny Black (Britannia) and escapes from the Middle East. While Grifter was recovering, the United Kingdom is invaded by the Amazons. Grifter assembles the Resistance to fight against the Amazons. In the present, Lois Lane is rescued by the Resistance from a camp just before she is converted into an Amazon. It is revealed that the Resistance were helping to find Penny's armor prototype at Westminster, as it could turn the war around. While the Resistance are headed towards Westminster, Resistance member Miss Hyde betrays them and contacts the Female Furies. She then tries to make the Resistance surrender by holding a knife to the throat of Lois. However, Miss Hyde regains control of the body and fights the Amazons, allowing the Resistance to gain the upper hand. After they escape the Westminster Palace, Grifter gathers with Britannia, who has then recovered her armor and found a group of released prisoners. The two then lead the Resistance in an all-out battle against the Amazons. Grifter and the Resistance arrive to attack in the Atlantean/Amazon war, and Grifter heralds their arrival by shooting an Atlantean twice in the head. Grifter is killed in battle by Enchantress.
The New 52
With The New 52, the 2011 relaunch of all of DC Comics' series that immediately followed "Flashpoint", Grifter is established to be a former U.S. Army Special Ops soldier who deserted and became a con-artist. During one of his latest cons, Cole Cash is assaulted and abducted by Daemonites, aliens who can "possess" human bodies. Cash is held for 17 days, while a Daemonite attempts to take possession of his body. For unknown reasons Cole wakens prematurely, aborting the transfer and leaving him with the ability to overhear the telepathic communication of Daemonites. He subsequently hijacks a plane and kills several Daemonites disguised as humans resulting in him being wanted for crimes and terrorism. Cash is now wanted by several intelligence agencies and his brother Max, also a military special operative, is tasked with apprehending him. Furthermore, the Daemonites also wish to retrieve Cash in order to maintain their secrecy. On the run from his many pursuers, Cash dons a costume from a costume shop in order to conceal his identity.
Powers and abilities
As a result of the Gen-factor exposure, Grifter had strong powers of telekinesis and telepathy. These powers began to burn out over the years and by the time of the Dead Reckoning mission, his telepathic assault was only enough to give an enemy agent a bloody nose. His Coda-training sealed his powers away, but he can still use them under certain circumstances (usually the presence of another Team 7 member so that they can combine their powers). A side effect of his Gen-factor exposure seems to be accelerated healing. This healing factor also appears to have slowed his aging. He was the youngest member of Team 7, and though over 20 years have passed since his exposure to the Gen-Factor, he still has the appearance and vitality of a man in his mid-to late 20s.[volume & issue needed]
Apart from these superhuman powers, Cole is a talented marksman with both firearms and thrown weapons. He has single-handedly taken down large groups of armed opponents.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Grifter appeared as one of the main characters in Wild C.A.T.s voiced by Colin O'Meara.
- Grifter appeared in the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox voiced by Danny Jacobs. Grifter was a member of the Resistance (allied with Mrs. Hyde, Lois Lane, Batman, Flash, Captain Thunder, Cyborg, and Captain Cold) against Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Eobard Thawne. He was killed by Amazons after he assisted Batman in defeating (and killing) Black Manta.
- A Grifter figure from Playmates Toys was released in 1994. In addition, Playmates also produced a "giant" version of Grifter in 1995.
- Grifter appeared in the Playmates Interactive Entertainment's Super Nintendo video game based on Wild C.A.T.s' TV series as one of the supporting non-player characters.
Sales for The New 52 version of Grifter struggled. Despite a strong launch that found the series debut selling 37,100 issues, sales quickly plummeted, selling 14,903 in March 2012. Issue #8, which was Edmondson's last as writer, sold 14,117 issues.
Critical reception for the series was mixed. The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps and Oliver Sava disagreed on the debut issue, with Phipps saying: "It reads like a book that could turn into something, but as a jumping-on point, this didn’t really work for me," while Sava called it "a solid action thriller with a sci-fi twist." MTV Geek largely panned the opening issue, giving it a score of 10/52 and saying "Grifter feels like a series of sort of clever action beats that never got put together as a proper story".
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- "September’s THE EDGE Solicits". The Source. DC Comics. June 13, 2011.
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- Allen, Todd (October 15, 2012). "Liefeld Was Right: DC Cancels Blue Beetle, Legion Lost, Grifter, Frankenstein". Comics Beat.
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- "New 52: 'Legion Lost,' 'Grifter,' 'Superboy,' and 'Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.'" MTV. September 15, 2011