In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents White Queen: Age of Darkness #3

I'm sad this was only three issues! This was really good.

The covers: Harvey Tolibao and Sanju Nivangune have created a magnificent A cover for the final issue of this series. The White Queen stands atop the Cheshire Cat’s back with her staff in her hand and all the trails of her costume whipping around against a gorgeous backdrop of orange and yellow. Calie’s face looks great, regal and beautiful, and the details in her clothes are equally matched by the coloring. Really well done image. The B is by Giuseppe Cafaro, Simone Di Meo, and Ylenia Di Napoli showing what I hope is not a spoiler. It shows Calie carrying the corpse of a key character to this series. The illustration is good and the colors are also fine, but it’s the content where I have issue. Having not yet read the book, I really don’t want this to be showing me the ending. If so, this image should have been used for the second issue, rather than this final one. Calie is going against the Trickster on the C cover by Paolo Pantelena and Ula Mos. It’s got a lot of detail in both characters, including an insane amount in the villain’s garb. The colors are really selling this image. Strong blues and blacks make this impressive. There is also a C2E2 D and E cover, with the first having a print run of only 500 and the latter having only 100. The art is by Paul Green and the colors by Mos. It’s also available at Zenescope’s website. This is an incredibly sexy image of a dark haired woman wearing a tight fitting Chicago Bulls shirt, beginning to tug her black panties down to her black stockings. She’s set against an impressive backdrop of the Chicago skyline, but I doubt anyone will be looking at the background. Woof! Overall grades: A A, B B-, C A, and C2E2 A

The story: Calie’s battle with the Trickster is the opening of this issue and things go quickly. Why? Because when you get down to it, no clown should be able to beat the White Queen. This battle is good, though brief, but it’s not the reason for picking up this issue. That comes when Calie finally gets to the Dark Queen. Troy Brownfield, with story conceived by him and Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, really goes for the gut when the title character has it out with this uber villainess. The stakes are high in their battle, as Calie’s only daughter Violet could be killed. The magical battle between these two queens is epic, with a great surprise on Page 16, and it all ending on 19. Okay, Mr. Brownfield, you got me. I didn’t see that coming. The fallout from this action is going to have major repercussions in Wonderland for some time, and it’s such a major event as to change Calie for some time, if not forever. The final two pages capture the magic of this universe and leave things dangling for more emotional journeys for the White Queen. I can’t say more without spoiling it, but was definitely worth the cover price. Overall grade: A

The art: Any comic fan knows that most writers lay out the action panel by panel for the artists. Heck, they may even include rough sketches to get their words across. Whatever action occurred between Brownfield and Luca Claretti, it was gold. A book featuring a character named the White Queen has got to have a lot of visual power to back up that title, and Claretti certainly does. The opening panel on the first page is a tight close-up of Calie staring down the Trickster, who looks joyously deviant in the second panel. The final panel on the page has the White Queen tightening her grip on her battle axe, and then it’s game on! The battle is not just weapon versus weapon, there’s also magic–a whole lot of magic–involved, and that’s really cool to see. Page 4 is a quick back and forth between the combatants without their weapons, and Claretti masterfully has their faces look terrific. I loved that fourth panel, especially! Page 6 has a really dramatic moment that is shockingly beautiful. This is exactly what a fan would want to see happen. The back and forth between the Queens in the Dark one’s lair is great, with Violet looking fantastically frightened. The arrival on 16 is grand, as is Page 21. It’s rare to say that every panel is beauty, but I can safely say that here. Excellent work! Overall grade: A

The colors: Leonardo Paciarotti is quickly becoming one of my favorite colorists. He fills in all the empty spaces that an artist leaves and absolutely runs with them. Look at the beautiful work done in the very first panel. Parciarotti has transformed a comic book panel into a visual equal to film. He’s lit the eyes spectacularly and darkened the rest of the panel to draw focus on her cold blue eyes. The second panel on Page 3 is also a great job, with a dirt mound being done spectacularly–This may sound dumb, but when you see it, you’ll understand. Page 6’s red against the violet background is beautiful. Once in the Dark Queen’s setting, all colors are tinted red, making the entire sequence there draped in evil. Paciarotti is able to do this without drowning out the colors of the other characters. This is a skill that to be treasured by readers. I know I do. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, title and story, dialogue, sounds, screams, yells, Dark Queen speak, the speaker’s voice on 16, and concluding quote are by Charles Pritchett. He’s pushing all the right buttons on this book. I love that he made the narration different from character’s dialogue and his sounds are perfect. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I’m sad this was only three issues! If Zenescope is smart, they’ll have all the contributors reunite on another book because this was really good. 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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