In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #122

Zenescope is not having this book go quietly into that good night. An excellent story with superior artwork.

The covers: Five different covers for fans to find. The A is by Ian Richardson, Devgear, and Sean Ellery. This features several of this book’s villains, though I can only identify Cinderella in the front, the cadaverous Bloody Bones in the middle, and in the lower right the Warlord of Oz. Each character looks good and I always enjoy seeing covers where the villains get center stage. The B cover is by Renato Rei and Wes Hartman. This features three students of Arcane Acre, with Mary Medina front and center. Flames are exploding behind the trio, making them stand out easily. Nice, but generic. The C cover focuses on evil Cinderella holding a sword while sitting on a hillside that overlooks the ocean. Even though she’s only in four panels of this issue, I had to choose this image to accompany this review. Michael Dooney and Jorge Cortes did a great job on this. The first exclusive is the Planet Comic Con Exclusive limited to 500 copies. Illustrated by Dawn McTeague and colored by Ula Mos this is a beautiful image of Sela wearing a short top and matching short bottoms that are white with pink trim. She’s wet as she’s crawling out of a magical fountain whose violet and blue colored waters are spraying behind her. Yeah, this looks good. The Motor City Comic Con Exclusive is limited to 500 copies and is by David Nakayama. This has Sela wearing a baby blue crop top and panties while sitting on the edge of a table. The background and table match the colors of what little she’s wearing. It’s a beautiful illustration. Overall grades: A B+, B B-, C A-, Planet Comic Con Exclusive A, and Motor City Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: In the Realm of Myst at the ancient, forgotten temple of the original Realm Knights the mother of the Warlord of Oz confronts her son. She wants to speak with him, but he will not listen, so she draws her sword to get him to battle him, hoping to get him to explain himself. Writer Pat Shand, working from a story conceived by him, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco, then jumps into the recent past, showing that the Warlord was unleashed by Bloody Bones and given his sword Reaver in exchange for creating war. Back in the present, the Warlord defeats his mother and beats her down. As he walks away she asks, “This is the second time you could’ve killed me. If I mean nothing to you, why spare my life?” He stops momentarily to respond, “Exactly that. Because you mean nothing to me.” The story then goes to his benefactor, Bloody Bones, who’s got quite the collection of Zenescope villains before him, and he wants them to do something. After four pages of this villainous plotting, the book goes to Arcane Acre, where the school grounds is again under attack, but this time a younger group has plans. This was an exciting read with things moving quickly, everyone getting an important scene, and — even better — the return of a surprise character to assist the heroes. Highlights include Wiglaf’s contribution on 11, 15’s “Sorry, Ms. Matthers!”, the reaction in the second panel on 16, the return on 18, the sounds on 20 and 21, and the words of the final speaker on 22. The only reason this doesn’t get a higher score is because it’s the middle of story, with the ending still in question. However, there’s good tension and good action, making for a good read. Overall grade: A

The art: Holy cow! Someone at Zenescope tie Christopher Johnson down to a monthly! This is some gorgeous artwork in this book. A reader can tell on the first page how good this book is going to be in the five panels that Johnson creates showing the Warlord and his mother in a snowfall. The final two panels on 2 are exploding with emotion. Even the settings on this book look good, with the grandeur of the first panel on 3 being impressive. The first panel on Page 4 spills across onto 5 as part of a double-page spread. This panel is a virtual Who’s Who of evil in Zenescope books and each character looks sensational. Bloody Bones looks terrific on these pages; since he’s been skinned his body is constantly dripping gore, making him more monstrous than ever before. When Sela casts a spell on 8 it’s spectacular. The crowd that surrounds Arcane Acre looks amazing, with details in every character and on every face — a rarity in any comic book crowd scene. The full paged splash return on Page 18 is stunning in its character work and how the magic that allowed this character’s entrance is illustrated. The final page has the villain speaking to the young heroes and the vessel for the antagonist looks delightfully demonic. The final panel of the book is a great hero shot of all the protagonists considering their next move. Mr. Johnson, how much do I have to pay to get you on a monthly, because I’ll pay it. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The opening two pages show how colors can make a setting fanciful. The location is a snow covered plain, with the downfall continuing. Rather than have the page in plain whites, colorist Erick Arciniega uses violets to show the darkness of the location, which is reflected in the coloring of the snow. It gives the entire proceedings a fantasy flair. This color also allows the two characters to stand out in this setting. Bloody Bones is living up to his first name as he’s entirely red, in fact he’s every shade of red because he’s nothing but muscle dripping goo. The greens used for one of the survivors of his meeting are excellently eerie, and I love that his dialogue balloons are matching in their colors. The pink used to shield the mob from Arcane Acre is beautiful, but the best coloring is on 18 — the reds are stunningly gorgeous. Arciniega is acing this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, yells, Warlord speech, dialogue, sounds, Bloody Bones’s speech, a villain’s unique speech that premieres on the bottom of Page 5, Boulder’s speech, a feline’s unique speech, and the tease for next issue are created by the spectacular Ghost Glyph Studios. This book is a feast for fans of lettering, featuring several unique and varied fonts for different characters’ speech and sounds that explode on the page. Ghost Glyph Studios does nothing but superior work, as this book continues to prove. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Zenescope is not having this book go quietly into that good night. An excellent story with superior artwork. Seriously, someone get Johnson on a monthly! Overall grade: A

To purchase this book or other Zenescope books go to http://shop.zenescope.com/

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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