In Review: Gretel #3

An exciting issue as Gretel encounters several witches in the past and present.

The covers: A lucky seven to find before Tituba ends the world as we know it. Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes have created an epic A cover that features Gretel down in the streets atop some rubble, screaming as she powers up her raised left fist to cast a spell. Looking down upon her, engulfing all the night sky, is the villainous witch Tituba. I love the artwork and the colors. The B cover is by Allan Otero and Hedwin Zaldivar. This has a monstrous Vita Mortuum holding out both her hands to slam together and crush a tiny Gretel that’s between them. The title character is producing a huge amount of supernatural energy from her hands to ward off the witch. Great layout and execution and the colors are spectacular with Vita’s violets and Gretel’s striking emeralds. The antagonist Tituba is the focus of the C cover by John Royle, Jagdish Kumar, and Mohan Sivakami and it’s spectacular. The witch is hunched over with her hands open at her sides with white energy sparking out and cascading all around her. She appears to levitating, given the pose of her feet. This is awesome. I love everything about her, with her smile so deadly. Gretel is the sole character on the D by Netho Diaz and Nunes. She’s slightly hunched over and leaning to the left as yellow energy powers up in her hands held before her. Her emotion is fantastic, her hair whipping about from the energy, and the colors killer with that yellow energy, outlined in violet, all on a crimson spectacular. There are three exclusive covers to collect, but I couldn’t find images of them online. They include the Wizard World Philadelphia Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) by Mike Krome and Ula Mos, the Denver Comic Con Exclusive (250) by Michael Dooney and Mos, and the Boston Comic Con Exclusive (250) by Keith Garvey. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A, C A+, D A+

The story: Plotted out by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Ben Meares, with Meares writing it, this story starts out deceptively quiet with Gretel hitching a ride on a train in a freight car. It gives her time to think about being cargo seventy-four years ago in southern Poland. She was in a cargo car bound in spell-dampening cuffs surrounded by several witches she’s sworn to kill. They’ve been captured by Nazis and are being taken somewhere by the Germans for a nefarious purpose. In the present, Gretel jumps off the train in Denver and begins walking toward her destination. She’s not feeling good about where she’s going. ‘Maybe it was because I am currently in the middle of unraveling a plot to end the world by the same witch who murdered my brother and cursed me to an eternity of grief. Maybe it was because I had to split up with Samuel only moments after reuniting with him…and only hours after having a premonition about his death.’ To make matters worse, the female costumed vigilante who took shots at her last issue is also on the train she’s exited. Arriving at a church, the door opens and a nun answers. It’s Vita Mortuum! The story returns to the past to show how Gretel escaped her fate in the past and thought she was a hero. In the present, she thinks she’s make the right choice with the former witch, but Page 16 takes the tale in a surprising direction. Oh, and Samuel arrives at Dae’s and discovers what the reader has known since the end of last issue. I like the surprises and the flashbacks. This was fun. Overall grade: A

The art: Artist Allan Otero creates a lot of good stuff in this issue starting with a cinematic first panel showing a train making its way along the border of Kansas and Colorado. This is followed by a small, detailed panel of Gretel sitting on a crate within one of the cars. The story then transitions to Poland with Gretel standing prisoner alongside those she wants to kill. I like the memory she has in the large panel on the second and third page. The settings on both these pages are great. Sister Vita’s reveal is good as is her and Gretel’s reactions to seeing one another after so much time. The next five pages return to the past and it’s exciting and graphic with a visual gut punch at its conclusion. I like the visual Samuel employs to find Dae’s home. Page 14 is a nine paneled page that has some great emotions and terrific teases on the right side. The entrance and action on 16 is good and the full reveal on 17 excellent. A solid surprise occurs in the second panel on 19 with the fallout in the panel after it good — I love that the visual explains what happens to the others without any text needed. The transformation that ends the book is well done. Otero did an extremely solid job on this issue. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The first panel of the book has a beautiful sky due to the Ceci de la Cruz’s colors. When the story shifts to the story in WWII the colors go to sepia tones, aging them appropriately; notice how the swastika is colored red to remind the reader who is responsible for her situation. I like how her thought boxes are colored a flat yellow to make them stand out against the colorful backgrounds. There’s a neat bit of foreshadowing on 4 with Gretel in the golden rays of the sun, while Sister Vita is in darkness. Sounds and gore get bright colors on 6 – 8 to show their power. The blues that color Las Vegas give the notorious Sin City a deceptively calm tone. The sickly greens that appear on 15 are perfect. The lighting on a character on 17 is fantastic. The bright greens that start 19 are cool. Heck, Cruz’s colors are always cool. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, whispered text, a yell, and the three word tease for next issue are crafted by Arancia Studio’s Maurizio Clausi. The scene settings are very striking, looking as though they’ve come from a thriller. They catch the reader’s eyes every time they appear. The narration is in italics, which differs it from the dialogue. The sounds are perfect, with KRTSH and SPLORCH my favorites. The whispered text comes from a character’s aside, alerting the reader to the individual’s confusion. Overall grade: A

The final line: An exciting issue as Gretel encounters witches in the past and present. Fun story as the search for Tituba continues. The visuals are the best yet in this series. I need more Gretel in my life! Overall grade: A 

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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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