In Review: Gretel #5

Zenescope has created gold with Gretel.

The covers: Six frontpieces to search for with all your heart for this finale. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes and it’s a spectacular piece. Villainous Tituba is flying toward the reader with an incredible amount of energy exploding out of her hands and blasting into everything around her. Cars are being tossed about by her fury and buildings are being destroyed in her wake. She is absolutely omnipotent in this illustration. The colors are incredible on this with her flesh and costume details standing out and the bolts of energy phenomenal. Caanan White and Hedwin Zaldivar have Gretel and Calabar on the B cover and they look amazing! Calabar is in the foreground falling with pistols in both hands and a fierce face. Behind her is Gretel casting intricate spells in emerald. The tops of skyscrapers can be seen at the bottom of this cover, while a smiling Tituba is shown in profile, dominating the night sky in violets, blues, and pinks. I love this! The C cover is the Good Girl cover by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos. On the fire escape of a building, Gretel sits on her knees and plays with her right braid as she considers the reader. The sky is pink and purple. I like the colors on this more than the art which is simplistic for Santacruz. The final regular cover, the D, shows a “What Might Have Been” cover by Allan Otero and Ceci de la Cruz. Grown up Gretel runs through the forest holding hands with her grown up brother. The sun makes its way through the heavy foliage to guide their way. Crows with stones in their mouths fly about the pair. He wears the traditional clothes of a young German man from the 19th century, while she wears those of young woman, though her top barely contains her chest and her stockings don’t cover all of her legs. Neat, but not meant to be for this hero. There are two VIP ComicFest Exclusives (limited to 250 and 10 copies) by Eric Basaluda and Sanju Nivangune. This has Gretel from the back turning to her left to look at the reader. She’s dressed in a crown, horns, a spiky turtle backpack, and a spiked tail. She holds a videogame controller over her left shoulder. She looks great and is showing much of her backside. There ten copy exclusive probably has her showing even more skin, but I’m only guessing because I couldn’t find an image online. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C B-, D A-, and VIP ComicFest Exclusive A- 

The story: Crafted by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Ben Meares, with the latter writing this issue, no time is wasted as Gretel’s chest explodes in blood. As she begins to loose consciousness she remembers her fateful encounter with Tituba the witch that began her on her life’s journey to exterminate supernatural spellcasters. The story then moves to fifteen minutes ago as she entered the antagonist’s resistance. She runs at the villain and is easily tossed aside. “Now, now…Let’s not get carried way,” Tituba says. “You shouldn’t play so roughly, after all…someone could get hurt.” Samuel is revealed to the hero, held back by two of the witch’s green creatures. Gretel learns why Tituba killed her brother and not her and she learns what Samuel has been keeping from her. On Page 9 Gretel’s ace in the hole goes down in flames. Another character is taken out violently on 13, causing the hero to make her final attack on the villain. It’s on Page 16 where this story in the past catches up to the opening and it’s an unexpected development that I stand and applaud. It’s perfect, it’s graphic, and it’s a character defining moment. The dialogue in the penultimate panel on 19 is awesome. What follows on 20 and 21 was beautiful, and that final panel on 21 is wonderful. The last page sets the stage for more adventure and I’m on fire to read more of them after this conclusion. Overall grade: A+

The art: This issue looks great due to Allan Otero’s visuals. The opening image of this book is a spectacular illustration of Gretel screaming as her chest explodes. The second panel has her eyes rolling back as she begins to fall forward and this is immediately followed by a panel of a younger Gretel from the past in the same pose, albeit in Tituba’s cage. The second page concisely and expertly shows Gretel’s rebirth and hard road that followed. Page 3 begins with a beautiful image of a helicopter “Somewhere over Utah.” It’s the last gorgeous image of this issue before the carnage begins. The face off that starts the next page clearly establishes both combatants to the reader before the hero charges and energy explodes our of her. I can understand why silhouettes were used at the bottom of the page, but fully rendered characters would have had a better emotional payoff. The reveal of Samuel is good and the creatures restraining him are delightful toothy nightmares. The point of view of the first panel on 7 is excellent and a great visual reminder to the reader of this individual’s presence. The images at the top of 8 are excellent and the look of loss on the character in the center perfect. The final panel on the page is great. The action taken on the next page is a surprise and strong. As if this moment wasn’t large enough, the action goes epic on Page 10. The transformation on 12 is an excellent way to visual show the villain’s evil. I was unprepared for the shock that begins 13 and loved the action that follows. 16 is a powerful page and both characters are superb. The emotion that follows is great and the movements that follow terrific. The last page is a perfect visual conclusion that communicates the story is only getting started. Otero aced this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: Another outstanding component of this issue are the colors by Ceci de la Cruz. It’s impossible not to focus on the crimsons in the first and second panels. When the flashbacks begin they go black, white, and gray to age them. I really like that Gretel’s narration is colored a faded yellow to identify to the reader they are her thoughts and not her dialogue. Notice how crimsons continue to draw attention on the second page. Cruz also neatly transitions to the present with full colors returning. There’s neat work done on the mountains on Page 3 and nice mix of violet and blue at the bottom of the page to give the setting a futuristic feel. The nasties holding Samuel look icky in lime with their gums a rosy red. Oranges end 8 for a cool point of view and join with yellows to explode on 9. The blues and violets on the fifteenth page are excellent. Against a flame filled background, Gretel’s green colors and golden hair pop, and she really stands out against the blue background that ends the issue. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, scream, yells, and weak narration are crafted by Maurizio Clausi of Arancia Studio. Done in a large computer-like font, the scene settings make the proceedings seem like documented fact. I am happy the narration is in a different font than the dialogue. The sounds are excellent and especially gloriously grotesque in graphic scenes. The screams and yells are in a variety of styles, but are very large to show their volume and strength. I really like the weak narration on Page 18 that shows a character’s final moments. It’s brilliant. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is a fantastic conclusion to the newest hero at Zenescope. Gretel is strong, sympathetic, and absolute gold. The story has surprises and plenty of punch. The visuals superbly show the power and horrors of his hero. Zenescope has created gold with Gretel. Get this book! Highest possible recommendation. 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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