In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #13

Characters from Camelot enter the Zenescope Universe, so beware!

The covers: Eight different covers for one to seek as the Age of Camelot hits the Zenescope Universe. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Hedwin Zaldivar and it’s the perfect introduction to these new characters. Down at the bottom of the illustration Skye Mathers looks upon the open Book of Fairy Tales which is glowing red and revealing three characters above her. Clockwise, the characters are the Black Knight, Merlin, and a Musketeer. All three of the these individuals resemble their classic images, but upon reading this issue one will discover that Zenescope has put their own unique spin on each. I like the look of each character, Skye looks fantastic (with her looking her age!), and the colors are fantastic. Again, this is a great cover. Next is the B by Caanan White and Dijjo. This is also impressive for the level of detail in it. In the foreground is a full figure of Skye, wearing her traditional outfit, with some armor additions. She’s holding her sword up as violet energy, resembling lightning, shoots into the sky. Behind her is a massive violet dragon about to sink its claws into the heroine. Fire surrounds Skye and behind her and the beast is a castle. White has really outdone himself. The colors by Dijjo really make this a showstopper, with the different varieties of violet killer. The good girl “regular” cover can be found on the C cover by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos. This is a close-up of the Black Knight and she is gorgeous. She’s got on appropriate black armor, but she’s still revealing her lower face, neck, chest, arms, stomach, and legs. It’s not really what one would think of wearing for fighting, but this is beautiful. My hats off to Santacruz, who’s been on a roll lately with creating outstanding covers for Zenescope books, and the always superior Mos creating some flawless colors. Anthony Spay and Jorge Cortes have created an unexpected choice for the D cover, spotlighting the villain Merlin. The evil wizard looks ominous with glowing green eyes as he casts a spell that releases an ample supply of emerald energy that produces a vicious looking worm creature that has a huge maw and plenty of sharp teeth and claws. Behind Merlin is a blue background that features a golden disc that’s got some runes running around it. Very nice. There are three Kickstarter Exclusives (limited to 125/75/50 copies), but I couldn’t find any images of them online. Good luck, collectors! I was fortunate enough to find an image of the WonderCon Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) by Paul Green and Mos. This is another stunning cover by Green featuring Skye dressed in NOT Angels baseball attire. I say “NOT” because it’s not the Angels’ logo on her hat and the left side of her bikini top. She’s got on a red cap, white bikini top and bottom, white cuff links, and stockings, which isn’t much overall. Behind her is a baseball stadium. She looks fantastic, the background is highly detailed (but seriously, why are you looking at the background?), and, once again, great colors from Mos. One to track down, though it’s already sold out online. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A+, D B+, and WonderCon Exclusive A+

The story: This is a first in this series’ run and might be a first in the original run of Grimm Fairy Tales: there’s no appearances by any character named Mathers in this issue — no Skye at all. Instead, writer Joe Brusha focuses on how Merlin, using the Book of Fairy Tales he’s acquired, creating five new characters in the Zenescope Universe. First up are the Musketeers, who are in their own series, though this shows how they came to be. I liked that the three were given some distinct personalities before being transformed into their alter egos. It also hints that since their creation was done by a nefarious character, there may be some surprises in this trio’s future that might have them becoming villains. Next is the Black Knight and she’s the showstopper of the issue. She’s not appeared anywhere else and she is the reason to pick up this book. She’s an everyday gal, Peyton Parks, until transformed and goes into some fantastic action against some freakish foes. The final pages of the book reveals how Morgan Fay is transformed into her more infamous character and quickly approached by Merlin. This is indeed a “Launch” book from Zenescope and one to pick up to have an easy entry point into these characters’ worlds. Overall grade: A

The art: Leo Rodrigues does a solid job with the book’s visuals. The first page is a little too dark to see the artwork he’s created, though, that sets the stage for Camelot’s rebirth. Better is the second page which moves inside the castle, showing how this abandoned locale now how has a new occupant. The tease for Merlin in the final panel sets up the third page’s splash well. Though I do like seeing Merlin get the spotlight, the angle has him looking tiny, with it appearing that more text was expected to be on the page. However, when the wizard goes into action on Page 4, Rodrigues’s art excels: he creates a lot of passion for Merlin and a lot of strength. The layout for 5 is fantastic! It’s a great way to show off the new characters and give them a heavy supernatural tinge: I love it! The Musketeers look great in their apartment, with each being clearly shown to the reader. I especially like what they’re watching on TV. Their transformations are well done, with it being unexpected and strong. Their reveal in the splash on 9 is poster worthy. Peyton Parks’s pages are simply stunning. The villains she battles are great, looking threatening and strong, and she looks utterly fantastic. The power she shows in her pages has me clamoring to see her in her own book, and I want to see Rodrigues illustrating it. Morgan Fay is a knockout before she’s transformed and is even more beautiful after the fact. She’s got the most powerful change, which is expected given what her namesake could do. The first victim of her new persona is great and what she conjures on the last page impressive. With the exceptions of a few odd panels, this is really strong work that has me eager to see more from this artist. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Jorge Cortes is a good colorist, but the first three pages of this book are just too dark. It’s incredibly difficult to make out any of the visuals on the first page, improving slightly on the second page, with the third page being better still, due to a light source, but the visuals would have been more enjoyable had they been more easily seen. Cortes is making things dark to inform the reader visually that this site is an abandoned one, but it’s so dim it’s hard to really tell what it is the reader is supposed to see. When Merlin goes into spellcasting, the visuals brighten considerably and this book looks great. I love that Merlin’s magic is green, reinforcing my memories of Kevin Matchstick’s adventures. The coloring on characters’ skin is particularly well done, with some excellent shades done on every character throughout this issue. The reveal of the Musketeers is fine, but, again, goes a little too dark. Now darker colors are okay on a character named the Black Knight, but even she is lighter than the previous threesome because she’s showing more skin. I really like the highlights that are put in her armor. There’s some really neat coloring on some smoke in Fay’s appearance and some nice lighting effects for her first victim. Like the art, some difficulties, though the majority of this contribution is good. Overall grade: B+

The letters: When I read that Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is a book’s letterer I know that the text will look good, and this book’s certainly does. Esposito creates narration, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings are great, thin lettering, slightly tilted, leading the reader into the story and making it seem as though this transition is occurring urgently, compelling the reader to keep turning pages. The sounds are awesome, with SLICE being my favorite, but all the others in the Black Knight sequence are superb. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Characters from Camelot enter the Zenescope Universe, so beware! A great introductory issue that focuses on five characters’ creation and teases what they are capable of. Their story is told well and the visuals good, so I’m ready to see more of these newbies in action. Recommended. 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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