In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #117

Things are continuing to threaten Arcane Acre, but now the students are fighting back.

The covers: Five different covers for fans to find! The A cover, which accompanies this review, is by Daxiong. It is an unbelievably detailed illustration showing Wulf battling the Warlord of Oz. There’s another character assisting him in fighting this villain, but I’ve cropped this cover so this individual cannot be seen. Additionally, the cover is much clearer and brighter than the image I’ve used for this review; I had to enlarge the picture. The B cover is by Caio Cacau which has Sela and, I’m assuming, Belinda swinging swords at the Warlord of Oz, who’s taken off his helm, all occurring outside the grounds of Arcane Acre. Nice work by Cacau on the Warlord’s armor and helmet, with some really cool energy emanating from his hand. The women look good, but Sela’s stance is a little awkward. Cris Delara is responsible for the C cover and it’s a portrait of Belinda who’s got her fists up and looks ready to take out anyone who gives her any trouble. There’s a design in white on the wall behind her, but I can’t make it out because of the orange coloring and the light source. Also very nice. There is also a VIP Exclusive cover (limited to 200 copies) with art by Age Velez and a 2015 Zenescope Staff Exclusive (limited to 25 copies), also by Velez, but I couldn’t find images of either anywhere online. I wish you all the best in tracking them down! Overall grades: A A+, B B, and C A-

The story: The second chapter of “Something Wicked” opens with a two page flashback to two months earlier. Belinda has sacrificed a calf to summon Death, aka Keres who’s been appearing as the hostest of Grimm Tales of Terror. The human wants Death to tell her if her son is dead or alive. Keres has a good reason for not helping the woman, but Belinda says something to get the god to reveal he’s alive in Oz. The god leaves and the story moves to the present where the Warlord of Oz is making his way through the dormitory of Arcane Acres. He finds Wigalf and puts his blade to his neck. In a different plane of existence, Wigalf, Violet, Skylar, Mary, and Wulf come upon the recently killed Phil, whose body issues a green cloud shaped like the Warlord, which then begins to threaten Wigulf, causing Wulf to spring to his friend’s rescue. What follows in this story written by Pat Shand, conceived by him and Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, is a battle in the land of dreams and in the real world. Shand has an excellent hand on each character’s words and the action, with this issue having a lot of characters in play. Just as it seems the fight has reached its expected conclusion, Page 16 puts a wrinkle in the proceedings, while Pages 20 and 22 raise the tension between both sides of the conflict. I’m always happy when a story goes in unexpected directions and Shand never fails to make a story fun. Overall grade: A  

The art: There are two different artists on this book with two different styles. In reviews of other comics I’ve taken to task books that have more than one artist when their styles don’t work well together. However, Zenescope does something with this book that others often do not: 1, it states on the credits page which artist does which pages, and 2, both artists are very good. Pages 1 – 12 are done by Prezemyslaw Klosin. These pages are unbelievably sharp looking. Klosin starts things strongly with an image of Belinda standing in the rain, her hand just carrying slightly over into the next panel to lead the reader, while her cape separates the second and third panels. Page 4 introduces the teens in the dreamworld and they look spectacular. When the Warlord appears as a deadly cloud the details are strong. The flames on 9 and 10 look great, and the splash on 11 appropriate is appropriately moving — it’s a definite “Wow!” moment. 12 shows how the character that appears on 11 is battling the Warlord and it’s an usual form of fighting but is instantly communicated to the reader by the visual. Starting on Page 13 Manuel Preitano takes over from Klosin. It’s a slightly different style, but it meshes well enough with what came before and stands well enough on its own. Out of the gate, the first panel on 13 nicely establishes where two characters are and whom they’re being threatened by. Preitano uses a lot more close-ups of characters that the previous pages and they look good (Page 14, panel four; 15, panel five; three panels on 17; the second to last panel on 19; and all of 21). He captures the emotions of characters well, especially Belinda, who has the strongest reason to emote, but villains also have their day. The last page is a splash and it contains seven characters, which is quite a lot, but the perspective is wrong, as the top third of the page is the ceiling and the background. Slightly tilting the angle of this visual would have had more of the characters to see. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Erick Arciniega does an excellent job as the colorist for this book. The first panel of the book is very bold: a black sky, white raindrops, and the vibrant colors on Belinda. The reveal of the Warlord unmasked is dynamic in an unearthly blue, with the bruise on his face a stain of violet. In the dreamworld the background goes a sickly green, while the sounds of the actions that are being committed are bold in yellow and orange. Flames bring threatening oranges and reds to harm characters. When the sun rises, the colors become much warmer, creating a sense of relief that the danger has passed, for the moment, and a sense of optimism that the antagonists can be defeated. Excellent work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Continuing to show their considerable skills are Ghost Glyph Studios on this issue’s letters. They have created scene settings, Death’s dialogue, “normal” dialogue, constrained speech, the Warlord’s speech, yells, and next issue’s tease. I’m continued to be wowed by the letterers that Zenescope uses. They do not use one generic font for all text in their books, they change the style of the letters to suit the speakers and to show the intensity of the character’s yells. Ghost Glyph Studios masterfully pulls the reader further into the story with their contributions. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Things are continuing to threaten Arcane Acre, but now the students are fighting back. An entertaining read that has me looking forward to the next installment. Recommended. 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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