In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror #4

Another instance of the visuals not at the same level as the story.

The covers: A trio to keep you awake at all hours as you hunt them down. The first cover is the A from Gregbo Watson and Victor Bartlett. It shows a circular window, almost like a ship’s porthole, that has Russian writing below it. Within the glass one can see a maniacal looking man wiping blood away so that he better see the reader. He has blood around his mouth, and he looks to be the reason blood was spilled in the first place. Creepy, gory image from Watson and Bartlett that hints at this issue’s story without revealing anything. The B cover is by Antonio Bifulco and Ylenia Di Napoli showing an individual in a lab or medical facility who has gotten a hold of someone’s arm and is partaking of it. Another ghastly image, with the coloring making it especially gruesome. The final cover, the C, by Maria Laura Sanapo and Vinicius Andrade is more to my liking. It features the hostess of the book, Keres, looking seductively at the reader, while behind her a man appears to be unconscious; several sensors are attached to chest. Keres looks gorgeous and there’s a hint of danger, rather than something explicit being shown. This was the cover I had to pick up. Overall grades: A A-, B B, and C A+

The story: St. Albans in Vermont is the setting for “Sleepless.” This tale conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Steve Yockey, with Yockey writing it, has Dr. Bryce Miller and his two interns Billy and Jen have arriving at Dr. Prosky’s isolated mansion, converted to a laboratory, to examine his work on sleep deprivation. A young woman outside tells them that the entrance is on the other side of the building and they go there. If only they knew that the woman was Keres. The trio is let in by a sleepy looking young blonde grad assistant named Maxine. She tells them that Dr. Prosky is unexpectedly out today due to a family emergency, but she’ll show them around. The three take a look at the doctor’s files, but there are issues with them. In fact, Maxine reveals something that has Miller horrified about their test subjects. Pages 12 and 13 show what’s become of the subjects and then the terror begin. The results aren’t too surprising, given the spoilers by two of the covers, though there were two sold shocks: the first at the top of 18 — I didn’t expect that and it tied in nicely to the tense situation at hand — and Page 20. Wow! That was a great twist! This shot the story up considerably, making the horror similar to the tales from that iconic horror author who lived from 1890 – 1937. This made the proceedings much more eerie and the ending absolute perfection. I thought this was going to be one type of story, but Yockey nicely kicks it to a different level. Well done, sir! Overall grade: A 

The art: Two different artists are credited for this story, Gregbo Watson and Marc Rosete, and, sadly, the book doesn’t state who is responsible for which pages. The visuals do start off strongly, with an excellent first panel introducing the grandeur of the building that Prosky is using, and the three protagonists looking well. Keres is an absolute knockout on the second page, and her telling smile speaks volumes even though she doesn’t. Watson, I believe, is doing a terrific job on characters’ faces — just take a look at Page 3. A really good job is also done on the bags under Maxine’s eyes — they instantly tell the reader that all is not right with her. I am confused, though, as to why an entire panel on Page 4 is devoted to showing Russia: it’s absolutely unnecessary. I did like the layout of Page 5 which showcases a famous atmospheric phenomenon. The third panel on Page 8 has some awkward staging of Billy. The pulling back from the reader for the final three panels on 9 is too messy to have any emotional impact. Pages 10 and 11 have the visuals improving greatly, again, because the work put into the characters’ faces is top notch, with Maxine looking great. The shocking reveal on 12 and 13 is undone by the sloppy composition of the characters. I checked out with the visuals at this point: if the creature(s) of the story don’t look good, then what’s the point of showing such horror(s) to the reader? I believe the switch in artists occurs at this point, and the characters do not look as good as they did on the previous pages. Additionally, the twist that appears on 20 is too far from the reader to have a great impact. The design, especially in the appendages, seemed like a Roger Corman creature. I truly believe a horror shouldn’t be shown unless the visuals can deliver. Here, they do not. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Marco Lesko was working overtime on this book. He’s doing a sensational job, making the art really shine, as much as he can. The opening shot has a gorgeous building that looks as though it belongs in a calendar due to the coloring. The setting sun behind the characters is magnificent in gold and orange. The colors used on Keres are awesome, with the shadow falling across her excellent. Look at the coloring on Jen’s face in the fourth panel on page 3 — perfection! Maxine is a vision with her dyed hair and coloring under her eyes. Page 6 does a super job in showing the visual that Maxine describes. Page 11 also has good coloring, using a burnt pink to intensify the hurried mood of the characters. Pages 12 and 13 are just too dark. More needs to be seen. I don’t know if Lesko colored it incorrectly, which I highly doubt, or he colored it so darkly as to hide the quality of the artwork. Which ever it is, the colors don’t work on these characters. What Lesko is working with must be brought in to consideration on the remaining pages. He’s doing what he can to punch the illustrations up, but I don’t think any colorist could have saved them. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Scene setting and closing text (the same font), dialogue, Keres’ dialogue, map text, yells, sounds, and a unique font for a unique character on Page 20 were brought to life by Micah Myers. The dialogue looks fine, but that opening scene setting and the “The End” look completely out of place; they are not of the same quality as the rest of the book. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Another instance of the visuals not at the same level as the story. A twisty tale unravels from average art. If you’re a fan of horror, I’d still give it a shot due to the story. 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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