In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #123

Great drama, showing how the turmoil that runs between characters can be as powerful as any slugfest.

The cover: It’s summer, so the variants are running wild! Seven covers for real fans to track down with this issue. The A cover is by Przemyslaw Klosin and Erick Arciniega. It’s an image of Skye performing a spell, which is writhing about her in purple energy. Surrounding her are several mirrors containing images of several students from Arcane Acre. The mirror on the top left shows two students who have died. Does this foreshadow that one of the other students shown will die? Only one way to find out — buy this book! The characters look terrific on this and the coloring is good, albeit a little dark. The B cover is by Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes. This shows the creature that’s summoned by the ghostly pirate on the opening page. The monster does make a return by the end of the book, though it’s mostly unseen. This illustration really shows off the details of the beast. The C is the image I’m using to accompany this review and it shows a very attractive Violet Liddle sitting on a mushroom in Wonderland. This cover is by Sabine Rich and is definitely one worth tracking down. The Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive is by Joe Pekar and Ula Mos, and is limited to 250 copies. Sela is on a Par 3 hole at a golf course, dressed revealingly: a crimson visor, matching half top and mini-mini skirt, and matching argyle stockings and panties. This is a good looking variant. The Dallas Fan Expo Exclusive is limited to 350 copies and created by Deacon Black. Sela is dressed as Cowboys’ cheerleader, bent forward before the reader as she goes through her routine. She looks great and is showing an amount of cleavage that one would find on any performing NFL cheerleader. The top half of the image is empty, as she’s bent forward, with only her hair flipping up to fill the space. The image should have been pulled back a bit and her legs included to fill in all the space. The Wizard World Philadelphia Exclusive that’s limited to 500 copies is by Mike Krome and Ula Mos. This has Britney Waters (Red Riding Hood) wearing a very tiny red bikini and red hood standing before Penn’s Landing. She has her hands on her head, striking a pose to show off the…scenery. A solid image that incorporates the character with a local settings. There’s also an exclusive limited to 100 copies, by the same art team. It’s exactly the same as the 500 exclusive, though Britney is topless. Overall grades: A B+, B B+, C A+, Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive B, Dallas Fan Expo Exclusive B+, Wizard World Philadelphia A, and Wizard World Philadelphia A-

The story: The book opens with Bloody Bones aboard the ghostly pirate’s ship as the dead buccaneer calls forth a creature, the kraken (?), to help aid in the fight to take down Arcane Acre. Meanwhile, at that school, the students are gathering up as many supplies as they can since they’re going to leave and take their fight to their supernatural foes. Ali and Wulf share a moment where the former offers the later Reaver, the magical sword, and he accepts it. Violet is confronted by the two young men as to why she’s there to help, since the last time they saw her she was possessed by the Mad Hatter and killed Hailey. A flashback is shown from three days earlier where she was watching television with the Cheshire Cat and they saw Skyler. She realized that she needed to help, though the Cat says, “Perhaps it would be wise to sit this out, Violet. Without the powers of the Mad Hatter –” And the flashback ends as the students realize she’s cured of the Hatter’s madness. There’s only way the students can tell if she’s telling the truth and this leads to her revealing how she’s able to employ magic. Pat Shand writes a terrific story, conceived by himself, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco. Wiglaf has a really great moment on Page 7, but lest the reader think him too noble, Page 11’s penultimate panel and 17’s actions will show that he’s exactly the youth he’s made out to be. He adds just the right amount of levity to this story, considering it’s the night before the final blow out, with this series concluding in two issues. The highlight of the book is the final scene between Violet and Hailey, who asks a favor after their battle has ended. It won’t be a surprise to long time readers of this title, but it still packs an amazing punch. Some great character moments before the final battle. Overall grade: A

The art: There are many examples of the excellent art by Salvatore Cuffari on this book. The characters are stunning. There are a few non-humans on the book who look tremendous, Wiglaf and Cheshire, but the humans look spectacular. On Pages 2 and 3 the characters are gathering supplies and they look great: look at Ali presenting the sword, Wulf taking it, and Violet speaking with Hailey. These characters are striking during conversations! The reveal in the fourth panel on 6 is Kafkaesque and it works sensationally: it’s a simple thing but absolutely gross. The action sequence on 11 is good, seeking how each individual contributes to the skirmish, with Wiglaf’s reaction being non-verbal and hilarious. Really impressive are Pages 12 – 14 with how Cuffari is able to illustrate a really abstract location. The conversation between Violet and Hailey just has the pair of characters talking, but it’s so much more dramatic to look at than any fight because the pain of the situation is obvious on both faces. Page 21 has a great progression of movement as the characters rise from their sleep to confront something. Having the panels being unequal to each other emphasizes how much rumbling is going on at their location. This is some excellent art. Overall grade: A

The colors: Fantastic colors by Erick Arciniega on every page. The ghastly greens on the opening page instantly identify for the reader the supernatural nature of the character. The colors on Hailey also clue one in to her being composed solely of water. The first flashback scene is done in tans to show it’s occurred in the past, as well as give a dirty aura to the location. The second flashback is vivid in green, but given where the two protagonists are, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that vivid greens were used. Pages 12 – 14 have spectacular colors that are truly magical. I also like that when this sequence begins at the bottom of 12, Violet’s eyes have mystically changed color. Exclamations are colored brightly after a humorous action, making them sound louder than the dialogue balloons can contain. Overall grade: A

The letters: Rounding out this book of outstanding artists is Ghost Glyph Studios. A song, sounds, dialogue, yells, scene settings, Cheshire speech, television text, dialogue from the Harbingers, whispers, and the tease for next issue fall under their purview. The letters this group creates are always crisp and clear and stunning when used dramatically for sounds. I also must single out how nice it is to see whispers in a comic book accomplished with a smaller font and pulled further away from the borders of their dialogue balloons. My favorite work from the GGS are all the CHUGs. Overall grade: A

The final line: Great drama, showing how the turmoil that runs between characters can be as powerful as any slugfest. The visuals are also strong, making me hope that Cuffari will be asked back to illustrate other Zenescope books soon. Overall grade: A

To order this book and Grimm Fairy Tales collections go to https://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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