In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #111

This is the issue to hook new fans. Outstanding.

The covers: A lucky seven fronts that feature the return of the Mad Hatter. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Brett Smith. A graveyard is the setting as Hailey is being pulled back by possessed Violet. Hailey is able to control the elements, so it appears that she’s summoned a pool of water to whip about her to dislodge her attacker. This is a good action cover, but a bit dark. Pasquale Qualano and Alessia Nocera have created a cover featuring several of the villains. Nicely done, but I don’t know any of these characters’ names, so it’s leaving me a little in the dark. The C is a beautiful cover by Marat Mychaels and David Delanty featuring a blonde woman in a school girl uniform holding a katana outside a wooden building at night. I don’t know who this is supposed to be, but it’s pretty. There’s a Bronze VIP exclusive by Elias Chatzoudis limited to 350 copies. I couldn’t find a copy of it online, so good luck tracking this bad boy down. There are also three editions of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive cover. Drawn by Eric Basaldua with colors by Nei Ruffino, the edition sizes are 350, 100, and 50. Once again, I couldn’t find images of these online, so buena suerta! Overall grades: A A-, B C+, and C A- 

The story: This is the strongest story I’ve read from this series in the last five months. Written by Pat Shand, from a story by him, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco, the teachers of Arcane Acre have gathered because they’re shut out of their school. They realize that Violet has locked them out with a barrier and is going to kill all the students within. The story goes to a flashback that shows how Sela was convinced to allow Violet and all the others into the school, including her own daughter Skye. Even Druanna believes that putting all the teens together, with all their powers, is risky, but it would be cruel to leave them alone. Sela is going to the Myst to get Druanna to help them, Shand and Adraste are trying to come up with a way to get through the shield and into Arcane Acre, while Belinda and Kiera are going to keep anyone from entering the dome. In the present, Violet has become possessed by the Mad Hatters and she’s knocked out a few people and dealt a fatal blow to Natalie. She has thrown into the pool Wulf and Malec, whose unconscious states will have them drowning in no time. Hailey coverts to her water form and plunges in to save the pair, while Violet produces two magical blades and begins to laugh as she makes her way to Skye. There’s a lot going on in this tale and it’s all working. I hadn’t considered the threat of who would want to get in the dome until Pages 6 and 7 showed me. Violet is absolutely insane in her state and was a completely threatening character. I was floored by Page 20 — did not see that coming at all. I have to admit to feeling somewhat neutral with Violet’s threat until this point. She’s enjoyable, but comics rarely commit to having the villain do something truly bad to a character, so that made 20 such an emotional moment. The last two pages set up the troubles that have to follow in the wake of this issue’s action and I’m eager to see what will come of all of this. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are also some of the strongest I’ve encountered in this Zenescope comic. Luca Claretti does a fantastic job on all the characters. Sela gets the best range of emotions on this issue, going from absolution, to uncertainty, and finally acceptance. Violet is in the crazy zone for the entire issue and she goes from absolutely looney without pupils, to more seductively evil with pupils. My favorite character image of the book comes on Page 16 in the final panel — it’s just great. There are two panels with all the Hatters shown and they, too, look great. The best crowd shot, though, is on the penultimate page’s final panel. That’s a “Wow” shot. I was really impressed with the form that Hailey takes on 18, which is drawn differently from other characters who have the same power. As strong as Page 20 is, there’s a lot of dead space in the top third. Granted, it drew me into the experience of what’s occurring on the page, but the image should be centered and raised. Mention must also be made of the way in which Claretti illustrates magic. This is a super job, with the crackle of supernatural energy on 4, conjured images on 7, the employment of water on 8, energy blasts on 9, and a lot of gorgeous cloud work for the representation of groups. Claretti should be on this book forever! Overall grade: A

The colors: In the first four pages Grostieta has proven herself to be a master of colors. The story is told in the past and the present on the same page, with colors being the guideposts for the date. The present is in the traditional bold colors one would expect from a comic, but the past is sensationally done in faded colors that seem like a memory. Some really nice work is done in the setting’s foliage in the third and fourth panels on Page 2. The fourth and sixth panels on 3 are stellar. The electric reds that start Page 4 are a perfect transition to the present and emphasize the threat. The violet and orange of the dome are beautiful and instantly magical in a reader’s mind. The icky green used to summon forth the images on 7 were sensational. Also sensastional are the colors used for certain character’s dialogue balloons. The underwater sequences are terrific. Grostieta should also be on this book forever. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, possessed Violet speech, uber-bad guy dialogue, and next issue’s tease are brought into being by Ghost Glyph Studios. I’m loving possessed Vi’s speech. Visually it told me she was under the influence of another, and I liked this. I also liked that the villain’s dialogue also had his own unique font after he transformed. An excellent job. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is the issue to hook new fans. I don’t know how much they’d understand, but this was wonderfully written and illustrated. Outstanding. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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