In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents Wonderland #34

A decent story with poor visuals that would keep one from going down the rabbit hole.

The covers: A foursome for fans to find. Richard Ortiz and Ylenia Di Napoli are responsible for a pretty A cover which features Calie swimming in the water. This is obviously the Well of Dreams that she was introduced to by the Antipathies last issue. The pose on her is good, with a really excellent job done on all the bits of her clothing that flail about. Her face is also well done. The coloring is good, and I like how the water gets darker the lower one’s eyes go on the image. The B cover is done by Vinz El Tabanas and it’s rather sinister. An angry looking Calie sits in a oversized rook chess piece, which is atop a gigantic chess board. A purple Cheshire Cat (much more feline than the ones fans are used to seeing) wraps itself around the base of the piece. Also on the board is a slinky Red Queen and a girl in some tight, leather clothing. Making a play to move the rook is the Terror, seen last issue. A strong, detailed image with perfect coloring. The C is also very strong and is done by Jarreau Wimberly. It features Calie standing knee deep in a reflecting pool set within a garden maze. Her right hand looks to be holding a trident, while her left is grasping out to the reader, almost like she’s trying to push something with the Force. However, this gesture may be the after effects of what she’s done to the woman lying in the water. Excellent image and fantastic colors. There is also a Year10 Photo Shoot Exclusive Cover, limited to 350 copies, with art by David Nakayama. This needs to be ordered through Zenescope’s website, but I couldn’t find an image of there or anywhere or online, so good luck chasing that down! Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C A

The story: “The Well of Dreams” Part 2 by Erica J. Heflin begins with the silent Realm Knight known as the Squire sitting outside the Rime and Reason Tavern looking at mountains. The still of the afternoon is broken by an explosion sounding off on the side of the tallest mountain. She stands, looking to venture that way, but a cry of “Get away!” from within the tavern has her draw her sword and kick down the door. Within, the creature known as the Terror, whom she has tangled with before, is grasping a woman with both hands, killing her by having her enter a dream state. The Squire swings her sword at the creature, but he reverts to his mist form, so the blade does no damage. His victim falls to the floor, alive, and he makes himself corporeal, grabbing the Squire by the throat. It leaves her saying, “I will not be contained.” With the Terror gone, she makes leave of the structure to find Calie. The White Queen is still with the Antipahties, the trio whose madness she cured last issue. They are showing her the Well of Dreams, and hint that it is the source of her power. Naturally, she has to go in, and that reveals something of her past. Heflin’s story with the Squire is easy to follow and understand, which is quite the feat considering that character is mute. Calie’s story focuses on what’s in the Well, and it wasn’t all that interesting. I’m still fairly new to Zenescope’s books, but I didn’t think that conflict that’s addressed existed in her, as all her previous adventures I’ve read suggested that she had already come to his conclusion. There is a conflict outside of the Well with a large creature and I was pleasantly surprised by the character’s dialogue: it was unexpected and it was funny, which proved a nice contrast to the action that was occurring. The final thee pages hint of the danger that’s on the horizon and I look forward to seeing it play out next month. Overall grade: B

The art: This was not a strong element this month. The visuals by Manuel Preitano had more of an independent feel from the 1980s than a modern day publication. The opening page shows that a jagged outline suggests a forest, rather than it being drawn out. The Squire’s jaw in panels one and three is fairly large, but shrinks by the fourth. The design of the Terror is good, but this present problems in the fourth panel on Page 2, as I can’t tell if I’m looking at the character’s mouth or eye–It’s a fantasy book, so, sure, I could believe this entity could talk out of its mouth-eye socket. The two women on Page 3 look exceptional on the splash page image, but the face on the Terror brings down the impact of the action. Page 4 has Squire’s jaw again growing and shrinking, panel by panel. The setting for the Well of Dreams is as rudimentary as it can be. The Antipathies don’t even have complete facial features in some panels, forcing the colorist to pick up the slack. This is also the case for the liquid within the Well–the colorist has to do most of the work to give it some type of form. The Cheshire Cat’s face looks like that of an ape because the image is pulled in too close to him. The gigantic creature that is fought towards the end looks good, though. Page 21 is just a bad layout. I don’t know if the script dictated that Preitano place the focus on the non-involved character (And why would it?), but if he chose do so himself, why would it be there, unless it was a way out of drawing the speakers. The final panel should have been pulled in much tighter to the antagonist, as too much space is wasted on the floor and the empty one-third on the left. I expect better than this. Overall grade: D

The colors: This is a strong job from Leonardo Paciarotti, considering the hand he was dealt. He provides depth to a simple mountain on the first page and he also highlights places in Squire’s hair to give it dimension. A nice mist effect is created with the colors on Page 4, and there’s a really nice shine off of several objects on the fifth page. Paciarotti provides some colored swirls to the Well of Dreams, and he uses different shades of blue and white for the setting around it. Page 13 is his best work, with the off panel light source beginning in a strong yellow, then turning orange, and eventually violet the further the setting is from it. Again, he creates a nice shine on a character, giving the individual a three dimensional effect with his skills. Paciarotti more than earned his paycheck on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters:  Scene setting, dialogue, sounds, and special writing on Page 5. The job done by Christy Sawyer is good, but I wish that different fonts could have been employed for non-human characters to set them further apart from others. Overall grade: B 

The final line: A decent story with poor visuals that would keep one from going down the rabbit hole. Overall grade: C+

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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