In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #112

A good read with a few visual speed bumps.

The covers: Five to find as Arcane Acre ends its first year. Marat Mychaels and Ivan Nunes have created the A cover which has an odd looking, though obviously evil, creature appearing out of a warp before Sela Mathers. The creature looks like a buff, classic “grey” alien. I doubt that’s what this entity will be revealed to be, but it’s not going to be something good, I’m sure. I would rather have seen more of the creature or Sela, than partials of both. The B cover is by Andrea Meloni and Hedwin Zaldivar. This is an action shot of six of the school’s students fighting each other. All the characters look good and why they’re battling each other has got me interested. Big plus to Zaldivar for the bright orange that makes this cover stands out on the shelves and draws attention to the blue monster lunging at Wulf. The C cover by Paolo Pantalena and Ula Mos is the cover I used to accompany this review for obvious reasons. It’s an amazing “good girl” illustration of whom I’m assuming to be Druanna due to the green hair. Everything about this image is gorgeous, and it reminds me more than a bit in her face and physique of similar work by Arthur Adams. There are two Comics to Astonish covers illustrated by Mike DeBalfo and colored by Ivan Nunes. The “Nice” version is limited to 500 copies and the “Naughty” to 250. The image has Sela squatting down on a field before the capital building, holding a football to be kicked. It’s nice, but I don’t know how she can hold that pose for a kicker. I couldn’t find the latter version of this cover, but I’m guessing it has her topless. Overall grades: A C+, B A-, C A+, and Comics to Astonish “Nice” B-

The story: This issue, titled “Bloody Bones”, conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Pat Shand, with Shand writing it, reveals why the Arcane Acre was created. In the Myst, Sela arrives to ask Druanna for help with Violet whose mind has been taken over by the Mad Hatter. Druanna surprisingly says she expected what’s happened and has been waiting so very long for his moment. This odd comment by her is left hanging as the book moves to outside the school where the Horde has arrived to claim the power of the Convergence that’s occurred. The Dark One and Belinda instantly square off, and things don’t get well for the smaller fighter. Within the assumed safety of the school, Ali clutches the body of Haley, killed by Violet when possessed by the Hatter. Her memories slowly come back and Violet breaks down at what she’s done. The mystical shield around the school goes down, and the villains enter the facilities. Shand is wrapping up several plots and creating new ones in this issue, and I’m not envious of his task. Unsurprisingly, as he does on Robyn Hood, his storytelling abilities are strong and he makes all that he has do seem simple. There’s a lot of action with the teens finding unwelcome closure with one peer, something major goes down with the Dark One, and — the biggest surprise — Druanna reveals something huge about herself. Shand ends the issue with our heroes uncertain of their purpose, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Overall grade: A

The art: I like the way this book begins by Luca Claretti. The first three pages are primarily comprised of long horizontal panels and they look good. It gave the issue a cinematic feel, as if it was being shown in letterbox. The final panel on Page 1 is a nice isolation of Druanna. The format of the panels is a necessity on Pages 2 and 3 because of the number of characters involved in the battle. I really like the flying character that was on fire that came in from beyond the border on 3 — really nice effect. The two flashbacks that remind Violet of her possession were very creepy, which they needed to be. The bottom of Page 9 has a nice lead up to the conversation on 10 which was beautifully rendered; it was a perfect match to the text. This had to be good, otherwise the story’s emotion would have completely collapsed. Claretti pulls it off. The second panel on 15 has a nice battle shot with a lot of motion in it. What I did not like was the design of the new villain. He (It?) just doesn’t look threatening. I did not believe that he was physically capable of what happens on 17. On the three pages that follow this, this individual is too sketchy looking. He needs to be completely redesigned. I don’t know what Claretti’s input was on this character, but it’s not working, and that hurts the story if this is to be the new big bad. The work on the other characters is fine, but this one character let me down considerably. Overall grade: B

The colors: I don’t like what was done with some of the characters on this issue by Leonardo Paciarotti. The first page has a lot of angular coloring done on Druanna’s face. The first and fifth panels on the first page are really blocky. Things look much better on Pages 2 and 3 with a wide variety of colors being used during the magical confrontation. The flashbacks with the Hatters look beautiful in teal. The hot violet-pink of the energy being used during the Dark One and Belinda’s battle is sensational. But look closely at her face in the third panel on Page 5 — she looks like she’s gone gaunt because of the coloring. This odd coloring doesn’t appear again, but it really stuck out when it did. My favorite coloring of the book was on Page 10 as the colors matched the imagery and story wonderfully. A few early speed bumps hurt this category. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Scene settings, yells, dialogue, laughter, Hatter speak, sounds, weak speech, breathy bad guy dialogue, and “The End” are all created by Ghost Glyph Studios. The evil laugher, Hatter speak, and sounds were stand outs. I wish the new villain had had a unique font, rather than the breathy quiet dialogue, so I’m hoping to see this revealed as necessary to the character in future issues. Overall grade: A

The final line: A good read with a few visual speed bumps. The story is the strongest element of this book. Overall grade: B+

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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