In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #114

A new character, a power revealed in one student, and evil takes a partner.

The covers: Five to dig up and place in your collection this month. Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes have created the A cover which shows Bloody Bones about to go fist to fist with Sela. It’s an outstanding action cover with terrific coloring. I can’t wait to see this scene occur! The B is the perfect Halloween themed cover, which is by Pasquale Qualano and Yelnia Di Napoli, with Mary in a red corset emerging from the ground, with the dead emerging before her. This is a good, creepy cover with Mary looking zombified, and the colors making this look like a classic Night of the Living Dead moment. Very nice! The image accompanying this review is the C cover. I’m not fond of this type of make-up on characters, but, after reading this issue, I’ve removed my foot from my mouth and love this look, having seen Mary in action. Beautiful image that mixes the gorgeous with the eerie. Franchesco! has delivered another winner. The final covers, the D and E, are the Diamond Retailer Summit Exclusive covers. They’re illustrated by Age Velez. I found an image on Ebay, but I don’t know if it’s the D or E cover I’m looking at. The cover I found shows Sela on a blank background on her back with her legs up in the air, bombshell style, as she looks at the reader. This is very much a WWII pin-up inspired cover. It’s sexy, but tasteful. Very nice. Overall grades: A A-, B A, C A+, D or E A 

The story: She’s been teased for the last few issues and in several promotional images, but this issue has the full introduction of Mary Medina. She’s the character who’s covered in the skull make-up. This issue is her origin. The first two pages are narrated by Mary as she tells about her youth, moving from Mexico to live in San Diego and how her life didn’t turn out as she intended. On Page 3 Arcane Acre is the setting, and its movers and shakers are deciding what to do after getting a “spike” from Belinda on someone performing some “high-level necromancy.” Sela doesn’t want to leave the school vulnerable after the hit they took a few months ago, so only she and Shang will check out this possible “black hat.” Before they can go on their way there’s a banging on the door and it’s Wiflaf being brought in after overdosing on Dreamroot last issue. Adraste says she handle it so the pair can go on their mission. Lance is singled out as being the source of his woes, since the plant is indigenous to Wonderland, his realm. He quickly says, “Dreamroot doesn’t do this! He said he’d done it before, it…it’s harmless, this isn’t–” but he’s shut down by the healer. “Does that look harmless to you, Lance?” It’s at this moment that Wiflaf says, with his eyes still glazed over, “I see him…I see him, oh god…he’s watching…” And outside the facitily one of the toothy creatures that brought a violent end to the assault on the castle is shown flying over the highest tower. The story, created by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Pat Shand, written by Shand, then follows Mary’s story and what brought her to her current state: tied to a coffin in a graveyard while a young man stands over her with designs in blood streaked on him, raising a knife above her. I like how Mary’s powers work; they’re a little different from what I was expecting. I also like how she’s initially casual about what she can do, until she becomes a real butt kicker by the end. How her magic works on Sela and Shang is also pretty neat, with how the conflict resolves itself being really awesome. The dialogue between these characters is strong and I like the relationship that’s beginning. This issue also reveals something about Lance, which has one person echoing the reader’s thoughts, “What are you?” He has an ability that hasn’t appeared in any Zenescope comic I’ve read and I’m really interested to see how much he’s capable of and what he can do with that power. The last page has two recent villains joining up in the most unholy of ways. I’m impressed with how an origin can be completely told, while maintaining two other plot threads, teasing things to come. Slick and smooth storytelling. Overall grade: A

The art: I went into this work not looking forward to seeing a character focused upon with the skull make-up. I’m not a fan of that look and I think it’s been overused over the last few years on posters, tee shirts, etc. I just don’t want to see another character with that pasty white face and delicate dots. It’s gotten old. I went into this book with a major attitude about the possible look of Mary and David Lorenzo Riveiro has changed my mind. I think it’s because I’m used to seeing this look only on pin-up art and not on a character, who’s got dimension and moves about. Mary looks fantastic! However, before I get to her, let’s talk the beginning of the book. The first two pages of the book tease Mary’s early life. There are some panels on the first page that depend heavily on realistic settings, including downtown San Diego. He nails it. Even in the home where Mary watches television, it’s a believable setting where I can see someone living their life. Intercut with these images are two panels that show Mary’s current status: a close-up of a hand tied to something and her perspective of her kidnapper gearing up in the graveyard. They seem innocuous (deceptively so), but the second page is an excellent splash that shows her situation is anything but innocent. Pages 3 and 4 have a lot of people in a fairly small enclosed space and Riveiro moves everyone and the point of view around easily, making everyone have a part to play visually. This is the sign of a really good artist. The story then moves back to Mary’s story and her plight and it’s here that Riveiro won me over. Watching what Mary can do and how she does it is great. Zombie fans might want to look at Pages 12 – 17. They’re not graphic, but they sure do capture the spirit of classic undead scenes! I was completely won over by the first image of Mary on 18: she was incredibly cool on the previous pages, but the way she’s moving, coupled with the look on her face, has made her a new favorite with me. Riveiro’s visuals have won me over on Mary. Additionally, how he illustrates Lance’s ability is also incredibly cool. That sums up Riveiro’s work completely: cool. Overall grade: A

The colors: Erick Arciniega also does some really neat things with this book. On the first page he’s created a nice tinted effect to the parts of Mary’s past that she’s telling. These aged colors are contrasted with the two panels colored in the bright shades one would expect of most comics. Having Mary’s narration in blood red boxes creates a nice threatening tone for her, giving her an ominous feel, which is reinforced when she springs into action later. When she does go into action there’s a fantastic eerie blue used to show the supernatural forces that she wields. When this happens Mary really stands out because of the blood reds in her costume. I thought that her painted face would stand out too much, but Arciniega wisely dims it during the magical moments, and it fits into the action seamlessly. The final page also uses a nice burnt violet to show the dawn of a new relationship between two bad individuals. This is good work! Overall grade: A

The letters: Returning to this book is Ghost Glyph Studios who provide narration, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, a character’s particular font for dialogue and speech, and next issue’s tease. I can’t compliment a letterer, or company, enough when narration is made a different font from the dialogue. I also must compliment GGS for the sounds on this issue; not only are the sounds, such as SLLTCH, outstanding, but I really like seeing different levels of yells shown in the fonts — there’s the traditional bold black lettering that matches the dialogue, but there’s also hollow letters that show a greater emphasized utterance which is colored to make them really loud cries. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: A new character, a power revealed in one student, and evil takes a partner. Entertaining in every way. Overall grade: A

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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