In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror #2

Stronger art would have helped, but the story is an enjoyable take on this Poe masterpiece.

The covers: A quintet to seek before it rises from its sarcophagus. Eric J and Stephen Schaffer do an EC inspired A cover with visuals that resemble that of master of horror, Richard Corben. Two mummies are coming through a corridor to find their prey, which is a man holding a pistol hiding around the corner. I like the mummies and the setting, as the look of the dead is very Corben-ish. I like the look on the man who’s just spied an arm of one of the risen before him. Great cover and I love the EC layout. The B is by Antonio Bifulco and David Ocampo. This is the cover I would have purchased had my store had one because it’s got an Indiana Jones flavor to it, with a female archaeologist who’s barely clothed encountering a mummy that’s reaching for her. Both characters look good and I’m a sucker for Jones, so I really like this. The good girl cover is the C this month and it comes courtesy Maria Laura Sanapo and Vinicius Andrade. This has a buxom brunette getting out of her sarcophagus with her wrappings placed strategically to keep this cover on the stands. She looks terrific and the coloring is great; I really like the shading on the setting (Yes, I’m actually looking beyond the character). The actual cover is much better than the blurry example I’m using for this review. There are also two Holiday Exclusives, both drawn by Dawn McTeigue and colored by Ula Mos. I couldn’t find any images of them online, so good luck tracking that pair down. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C A 

The story: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” gets an excellent interpretation from writer Anne Toole, from a story by Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha. Set in Egypt in the 1920s, an excavation again falls short of its goal: finding a mummy. Financed and lead by the elderly Lord Stanhope, the man has discovered many things, but not the prize he seeks. He drinks with those that have come with him, though one man stands aside, Monte. He wants to find a mummy for the old man, but there’s something else he obviously craves, young, attractive Lady Stanhope. After much drinking and obviously feeling the effect of the alcohol, Stanhope is pulled aside by Monte who says he has at last located a mummy. The younger man wants to tell the men of his find so it can be dug up, but Stanhope wants to see it now and demands that Monte take him to the find. The two enter a cave, with a bottle of wine in tow, to find the mummy. Anyone who has read the classic Poe tale will enjoy this take which seamlessly follows the original story, but then takes it into new territory for its climax. Having just taught this story to my sophomores, I liked how there are moments where Monte has artifacts set up to goad Stanhope to continue to the mummy, much as Montresor used his words to keep Fortunato walking to his doom. There’s a nice turn on Page 17 when the story begins to chart its own course, and a nice visual tease in the second panel on 18. The expected does occur, and horror fans will be looking forward to it, with justice prevailing in the last panel. A fun read. Overall grade: A 

The art: Illustrator Alexandre Nascimento has got an excellent handle on how to lay out a page and panel, but his figures are a little rigid. The first page shows this: the first three panels are solid set establishment shots (a candle, pulled back to reveal the mummy’s tomb, and then the empty interior of it), which then pulls back to show the male leads in the tomb. Clothing and gear establish the date of the story, while the obvious Egyptian trappings instantly identify this as a mummy’s tomb. The bottom panel has a close up of Monte and in the background is Stanhope getting his hat. This is how a book should begin to identify characters, setting, and situation. However, the devil is in the details, and they’re not as great as they could be: Monte’s face is very simplistic, having the colorist create depth; Monte’s pose is like something out of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe; the setting is very rough, again having the colorist do the heavy lifting. The character that is revealed to be Monte’s compatriot in the crime is very rigid in the final pages, drawn in poses that would be uncomfortable to mimic (Page 17, panel three and the bottom of 21). The mummy is very basic. There are no details in its wrappings; instead it’s illustrated with vague suggestions of being wrapped up. Nascimento is good enough to communicate what is occurring in the story, but not in a polished manner. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Marco Lesko does an excellent job in coloring this book and adds some dimension to the art. The first page employs the expected dark, smudgy, tan colors for an excavation, with some yellows and oranges to simulate candle light. Pages 2 and 3 show Lesko injecting a beautiful sunset to the setting, which is evident in the second panel on 2 and the first panel on 3. Additionally, he uses a rich deep green for Lady Stanhope’s dress which makes her absolutely out of place in this desert environment. All of the characters’ faces get some superb shading to add some dimension to them that the art barely supplies. The coloring is the best on Pages 6 – 12 as only a candle’s light provides any ability for the characters, or readers, to see the action. It’s a great aged rust of yellow and orange that makes the story wonderfully dated. Lesko worked this book like a king. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, an incoherent moan, and a sound are done by Fabio Amelia. A good job is done, though the story doesn’t provide much opportunity for Amelia to show much of his skills since 98% of this work is dialogue. Overall grade: A

The final line: Stronger art would have helped, but the story is an enjoyable take on this Poe masterpiece. 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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