In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #120

Several stories juggled well, but disappointing visuals.

The covers: Five covers to find as things come to a head with attacks from Bloody Bones and his minions. The A cover, by Sean Chen and Hedwin Zaldivar, is a good example of this. Skye and Lance are running down a dark street in Philadelphia as a gigantic image of Blood Bones looms high above and reaches down to grab them. Excellent character work on this, with Bloody Bones looking the best I’ve ever seen him, and Skye and Lance looking great. The coloring is also good, with the skin work on BB tops. The B cover is by Maria Laura Sanapo and Wes Hartman. This has Sela Mathers sporting a massive sword, while Jessica Campos has her back with a pistol. Nice showcase for both characters and the blue background makes the characters and this cover pop. The only thing that would make this better is seeing more of both characters. Sela, bearing a sword, looks as though she’s unaware that a gigantic Bloody Bones is sneaking up on her on Jose Luis and Vinicius Andrade’s C cover and it’s fairly muddled. Sela looks good, with her colors perfection, but Bloody Bones is too dark and the flame around him looks sloppy. The Steel City Con Exclusive, limited to 750 copies, is illustrated by Jamie Tyndall with colors by Ula Mos. This is an image of Sela, who’s taken her glasses off, wearing a blue corset, silk see-through gloves, yellow bikini bottom, and plenty of leather straps with heart connections. There’s no background, but if you’re looking for that, you’re obviously missing the point of this illustration. The C2E2 cover, limited to 500, is by Paul Green with colors by Ula Mos, and it’s the image used for this review, and can you blame me? This is an ultra sexy cover of Sela wearing a Blackhawks jersey, slightly tugging it up to reveal a red and black thong. It’s a “Good Girl” cover and it’s spectacular. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C C-, Steel City Exclusive A, and C2E2 Exclusive A+

The story: This is the most text heavy issue I’ve read in Grimm Fairy Tales. The story was brought to life by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Pat Shand, with Shand writing the issue. “The Shadow Girl, Part One” opens with Skye Mathers giving a one page summary of why she and Lance are on the run. She’s calling herself “Shadow Girl” when she posts online and Lance tells her she shouldn’t be doing that. As they sit in a restaurant having this conversation, Skye narrates that she’s hopeful that some online group knows something about Bloody Bones so they can kill him, one of his minions appears outside and rips Lance though the window. Lance isn’t frightened and begins to use his powers, but Skye is faster and cuts the creature’s head off. The couple’s joy at their success doesn’t even last a panel as four more of the creatures appear. Meanwhile, back at Arcane Acre, the Realm Knights of Earth have arrived and are being split into two groups by Sela; the first group is to look for the runaways in Philadelphia, while the second group is to protect the school. As the groups go to their tasks, Knight Jessica has a word with Sela, and it doesn’t go well. The story is juggling several plotlines, and juggling them well, but if one is not familiar with what’s been happening in the last six months, this could be a very confusing read. I’m enjoying the storyline involving Ali and Natalie the most and am glad to see that it’s heading toward its expected end, though it will involve terrible heartache for one character. Karen is an outstanding addition to the cast and the more of her in this series, the better it is. Where Skye and Lance end up seemed a little too easy, with one person there being of a certain profession that had the expected issues with the female protagonist. Bloody Bones hasn’t struck me as a strong villain based on previous appearances, but he does something on the final page that completely changed my mind. Worth reading for the last page alone. Overall grade: B+

The art: This was not an easy book for Manuel Preitano to illustrate given the amount of space he had to leave in most panels for the text. When he is given a chance to show characters in close-ups or with only two characters in a scene, the visuals are great; when there are three or more characters in a panel the image is really sketchy. The first two panels of the book look good, with Skye relating a moment from her past. The characters look terrific and the emotion on them speaks for them. In the third panel there are eight characters. All are outlines of figures, with the character in the foreground just not frightening. This character looks better in the fourth panel, but he (“it”?) and the others are back to being sketches in the final panel. Lance and Skye look good on the next two pages if it’s just the pair of them, but the creature, and those in the final panel on 3, look poor. Page 5 has Preitano using slits for eyes and mouths, with Sela’s nose disappearing entirely in the third panel. Certain characters look terrific in every panel they’re in: Karen, Skye, Marian, Natalie. Other characters just look rushed: the two new male characters in the setting that begins on Page 13, and Bloody Bones just looks terrible. Given his supernatural nature, readers could expect his appearance to change at any time, so an artist could make changes, and they are desperately needed. The violent action on the final page was shocking and absolutely fit the speed of the moment. I need the visuals to be more consistent. Overall grade: C

The colors: Erick Arciniega is doing a good job on the coloring for this book. The first page is done in flashback, though two different events are told, so the coloring is a darker violet – more upbeat – for the first, happier event, while the second is much bleaker using the same color, enhancing the moment. Skye’s narration is set apart from dialogue with a neon blue, which contrasted well with the cold Philadelphia night. The sound effects, which first appear on Page 3, are wonderfully strong, Natalie is beautiful in different shades of blue, and the shading on characters’ skin excellent to denote light sources. Arciniega is aces on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, dialogue, Bloody Bones and his minions’ dialogue, regular dialogue, yells, sounds, scene settings, whispers, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Ghost Glyph Studios. They do an outstanding job on all aspects of this book. I always have to give high praise when narration and dialogue are in different fonts, and their yells and sounds are superior. Zenescope continues to use the best letterers in the business. Overall grade: A+  

The final line: If this is your first issue, it could be confusing. However, if you’ve been reading this book for a few months, this is going to have a good payoff. The visuals could have been more consistent, but given the volume of text involved in the first half, it’s not surprising the artist let some panels slide in quality. Overall grade: B-

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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