This weekend’s escapist superhero blog post will examine the infamous independent creation Grips. His gritty, ultraviolent escapades ranged from fighting street crime to stopping Saddam Hussein from using nukes on America.

grips pictureGRIPS

First Appearance: Grips #1 (September 1986). His final appearance came in March 1992. 

Secret Identity: Martin Kane, artist for Fat Ninja Comics

NOTE: Created and written by Kris Silver and with his earliest adventures illustrated by Tim Vigil of Faust fame, Grips was a cross between Wolverine and the Punisher. However, as a character from an independent company whose internal pages were in black & white his violence and other mature themes went WAY beyond anything featuring either of those two Marvel Comics creations.

Think of the over the top, seldom realistic violence of films like Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, or maybe Sonny Chiba’s 1970s Street Fighter flicks.

grips on rooftopAs I indicated in the title of this blog post, I consider the Grips tales to be what low-budget, disreputable Grindhouse movies of the past were to glossy, professional films from major studios. The writing and artwork in Grips seldom approached the standards of the Big Two publishers, but the visceral violence, profanity and often taboo subject matter more than made up for the overall shoddiness of the finished product.

One thing is certain – you’ll consider Wolverine and the Punisher to be as bland and corporate as Richie Rich comics after you’ve walked the Sacramento streets of Kris Silver’s deranged vigilante called Grips. 

Powers and Weapons: 

trial by firePowers: Grips is in peak physical condition but don’t expect anything scientific about the world of this superhero. He practices his own improvised version of martial arts which blends several disciplines, and, because he’s insane, his physical abilities are augmented by adrenaline-fueled “pseudo-psychotic rages” which push him beyond normal human limitations.

His own unbalanced internal chemistry also enhances his ability to heal, and his sadomasochist nature causes him to be energized by pain and physical damage, sort of like the Cenobite Pinhead. Grips also has hyper-acrobatic levels of agility. Combine all that with the way this costumed vigilante believes criminals deserve absolutely no mercy and you can think of Grips as a relentless, unstoppable force like slashers from horror films.

grips pincerWeapons: Martin Kane’s signature weapons are the long blades that he holds by the grips in his gloved hands. He calls those blades “pincers” instead of claws. In addition, the two much smaller blades on either side of those pincers are “stings” – projectiles which the devices on the back of Grips’ gloves can shoot like bullets.

As a reminder that the laws of physics go out the window in this series, Grips’ pincers retract into compact form. Yep, in the world of these comic books, we are to believe there is a metal capable of expanding and contracting as needed without losing any of its integrity.

The belt worn by this superhero contains additional items crafted from this metal, and as small as they are, they can be expanded into nubaku weapons for use in combat. Grips pays for his equipment by keeping all the money he loots from the criminals he kills, especially drug dealers, armed robbers, human traffickers, etc.

As Martin Kane, our hero resides in what seems like the kind of modest home in which a professional comic book artist might live, but it has secret subterranean workout rooms, computer labs, and a private tunnel which allows Grips to come and go by way of a secret entrance several yards away from Martin Kane’s residence.

History: While juggling his editor’s deadlines for artwork with his vigilante activities, Martin Kane/ Grips regularly wars upon hardcore criminals of all kinds.


gr 1Grips’ original run at Kris Silver’s Silver Wolf Comics established much of the lore surrounding this character. The Sacramento media was depicted condemning the superhero’s extreme violence, like shooting his stings through a criminal’s eye to burst out the back of their head, dislocating jaws on a regular basis, slicing up his victims, dousing an arsonist with gasoline and setting them on fire, etc. 

That original run, later collected in Graphic Novel form, saw Grips clash with the west coast’s biggest narcotics outfit. After slaughtering their men and stealing both drugs AND money from their operatives, the reckless vigilante set them up for further mayhem by arranging a meeting supposedly to turn their drugs and money back over to them. Instead, he simply slaughtered even more members of the drug ring.

gr 4Supervillain operatives of organized crime tried eliminating Grips, like the Gladiators, two massively-muscled costumed men with spiked brass knuckles and torso armor. Grips eventually sliced off the balls of one of the Gladiator brothers, then callously denied his desperate plea to be killed.

Another supervillain the antihero faced was Deathborg, a disfigured, maimed former soldier who was reconstructed with grotesque cyborg substitutes for his missing body parts. Deathborg was put together as part of a Top Secret government project but then went rogue and began working for organized crime.

Crescent Temple, a beautiful but hard-assed private detective, was hired by the Sacramento government to bring down Grips. She had her own agenda and set out to manipulate the insane vigilante to kill off selected criminal targets of her own, planning – but failing – to eliminate him after her targets were dead.


legion x1 2LEGION X-1 #2 (March 1987)

March of 1987 was the last publication date for Kris Silver’s creations under his Silver Wolf Comics business. In addition to Grips, Silver had ongoing series featuring solo superheroes like Edge, Night Master, Port, the Victim and Stech, as well as superhero teams like the Eradicators, Dungeoneers, and Legion X-1.

Legion X-1 was a government-affiliated superteam, and in their 2nd issue were sent on a mission to kill the deranged Sacramento vigilante called Grips. The antihero’s greater than human abilities enabled him to survive in a fight against the entire team and remain at large. Grips and Kris Silver’s other creations would resurface at Silver’s new venture.


In 1988 no new stories were published featuring Grips or any other Kris Silver characters. By May of 1989, as Greater Mercury Comics, Silver and company resumed some of the stories left hanging when Silver Wolf Comics folded. Grips, their most popular character, starred in THREE separate titles at GMC and was also teamed up with assorted other characters in efforts to boost their fame.

gr adv 2GRIPS ADVENTURES – This series ran from May 1989 to March 1991, starting out with Grips having to withstand an attack by Legion X-TWO, the alternate superheroes to Legion X-1. Legion X-II did better than the first team against Grips, but still couldn’t take him down.

Subsequent stories found Grips fighting subterranean warriors alongside the superheroes Dark Assassin and Chance, taking on the Red Dragons and Fire Dragons criminal empires with help from Night Master and Ninja, as well as other adventures. The final issue in March 1991 wrapped up Grips’ multi-part clash with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

gr coverGRIPS VOLUME TWO – The blood-soaked little madman’s solo escapades ran simultaneously in this series which launched in August 1989 and ran through March 1992, a full year after Grips Adventures was canceled. These tales featured extreme violence and adult themes as Grips waged war on a network of villains who abducted children, abused them and exploited them sexually.

grips ii 6Keeping up the edgy, controversial and taboo storylines, the vigilante also battled a supervillain called Death, a man who – along with his wife and child – contracted AIDS from a blood donor. After his loved ones died, he ran rampant, using many heinous methods to spread AIDS because he felt that society would only take AIDS seriously if it approached epidemic proportions.

Blood, aka Carrie Ann Kames, a female vigilante copying Grips’ costume and weaponry, was another threat to the antihero, as were the Blade Brigade and a second figure taking on the “Death” identity but with a different look and powers. Deadly Spyder, El Tigre Blanc, Sparkz, Death Tracker and Moray rounded out the Grips Rogues Gallery.

gmc ac coverGREATER MERCURY COMICS ACTION – This series featuring Grips and others in solo adventures debuted in September 1990 but confusingly resumed the numbering from the original Grips series at Silver Wolf Comics. This made #5 the “first” issue under this new title, which lasted through May 1991.

The double-dealing detective Crescent Temple (on cover) and other characters from the early Grips stories returned in GMC Action.

grips protecting childrenDARK ASSASSIN – Among Grips’ other guest appearances were Dark Assassin #4 and 5 (July and September 1990), in which he helped the title character plus Edge and Chance take on the superteam called the Protectors. GMC was clearly very determined to make the popular figure Grips the linchpin of their shared universe.

As mentioned above, March 1992 was the final appearance of Grips, who had outlasted all the other Greater Mercury Comics characters. In that final issue Grips was convinced by his latest civilian assistant (none of whom had a long lifespan) to relocate and join the superteam called Assassin Force.

grips and saddam husseinThat was not to be, however, since the character has not resurfaced since then. Overall, the Grips legacy rests on the title character’s extreme, graphic violence and the grindhouse way his adventures dragged in uncompromising sexuality and very controversial topics like the sex trafficking of children and the spread of AIDS. There was also the cover where he faces down Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War in 1991 (at right), but it’s hardly a “Captain America punching Hitler” cover.

As the 1990s and subsequent decades rolled along, more and more comic books, independent AND mainstream, became so overloaded with gritty, possibly crazed antiheroes and their dark, cynical, downbeat adventures that a lot of what had made Grips stand out no longer seemed as daring.






Filed under Superheroes


  1. Grips is like a great superhero! Well reviewed 👌

  2. I obviously was deprived as a lad. Lots of the comic book heroes/villains I never knew.

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