In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #16

Skye and Sam fight three villains, while another and his minions wait in the wings.

The covers: A monstrous eleven covers to chase down if you’re fast enough or have magic at hand. The first cover, the A, is by Sheldon Goh and Sanju Nivangune. It has Samantha standing before Skye. The mage is directing blue energy from her right hand at an unseen foe. Skye wields her sword behind her, ready to take over for her friend should she fall. The characters look good, as do the colors, but the energy coming out Sam is incredibly lackluster. I don’t see how the energy she is projecting would stop anything. To see Sam in action take a gander at the D cover for this issue. The B cover by Riveiro and Ceci de la Cruz has Skye raising her sword high with both hands, ready to swing it upon Merlin, whose hands are crackling with mystical emerald energy. However, if the heroine would look behind her she would see that Morgan le Fay is erupting with crimson energy of her own to use against her. Nice images of the heroes with the colors bold and bright. This is the oldest looking version of Merlin I’ve seen and his age is distracting from the other characters. Mike Krome and Ula Mos have created the “Good Girl” C cover featuring Morgana. She’s wearing her next to nothings as purple flames apparate from her hands. Beneath her eerie crimson smoke writhes about to cover the ground. Behind the villian is a city at night, with a Gothic building partially blocking a full moon. She’s beautiful, the setting is solid, and the colors excellent. This is a great cover. The D is by Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes. Samantha Darren gets the focus on this cover as she unleashes her magic upon a dragon. She looks fantastic and the energy that’s coming out of her hands is massive and beautiful in blues. The dragon is monsterous, not only in its visage but in size. In fact, it’s so large it cannot fit entirely on this frontpiece, with only its head and part of its wing showing. This is terrific. The Zenescope Anniversary Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) is by Kieth Garvey. This features a beautiful raven haired woman in a red dress, short naturally, with a black “Birthday Girl” wrapped around her. She’s grabbing the top of her hair as she looks at the reader. Behind her is a light pink wall with dark pink and black balloons, plus a Happy Birthday banner. Cute. There are also the following variant covers, but sadly I could not find them online: Kickstarter Exclusive (limited to 200 copies) by Paul Green and Ula Mos, Kickstarter Exclusive (limited to 200) by Kevin McCoy and Mos, Fan Expo Boston Exclusive (limited to 350) by Elias Chatzoudis, Legacy Exclusive (limited to 100) by Al Rio and Tom Smith, Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 350) by Green and Mos, and San Diego Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 100) by Green and Mos. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A B-, B B, C A, D A, and Zenescope Anniversary Exclusive A-

The story: Picking up where last issue left off, Merlin makes his way through the sewers of the city, watching his latest summoned creature stalk off. He’s greeted by Oberon who is hungry for revenge against an unnamed male. Merlin tells him to be patient because “we must first gather the assets necessary to exact our revenge.” A bridge begins to quake. Pedestrians and passengers in cars don’t know what’s occurring. That is until one man is pulled from a vehicle by a giant hand. It’s Oberon and evidently the time is ripe for him to appear. This sinister start from Joe Brusha then moves to across town a few hours later where Samantha Darren has more intel to give to Skye Mathers about their foes. Page 7 links up the previous issues and a few other Zenescope series to past events leading the pair to go to the latest attack, which the reader saw on Pages 4 and 5. At this location the pair find an odd lack of witnesses, but do find someone who causes them considerable trouble and spirits them to a dangerous location. At this locale there are an additional pair of antagonists and both Skye and Sam have their situations worsen. Something important is lost at this location, though the heroines survive to fight another day. There’s a lot happening in this issue, with the leads finally putting together foes from previous issues. I admit to wondering how Skye will defeat these villains as every time she confronts a baddie she loses something that she wields in the name of good. The final page reintroduces Oberon into the story and show he’s not alone in wanting to destroy the Earth. A solid comic outing. Overall grade: A-

The art: Lucas Meyer is the artist of this issue and he does a decent job. The opening two pages showing Merlin and Oberon in the sewers is good, with the creatures inhabiting it teased and never fully shown. I like that Merlin’s first appearance has him striking a classic Doctor Strange pose of readiness with his index and middle fingers. The people scrambling for safety at the top of Page 3 are really well done, as is the family with the unfortunate father. Oberon’s reveal on 4 is a full-paged splash and he looks good, but it’s an odd transition from the previous page; I’m assuming that it was Oberon that grabbed the dad, but he’s nowhere to be found in this image. And is Oberon a giant? It’s hard to tell from this page. Pages 6 and 7 have Sam sharing intel with Skye. The setting is fantastic and the four panels of flashbacks look great. I also have to say that Skye’s hair looks amazing. The entrance of the character on 9 is outstanding: that’s how a villain should reveal themself to heroes! The battle that follows is quick, but it’s very visual with magic flying everywhere. The other two bads who reveal themselves on 12 is also great, with the green overlays on one character’s hands outstanding. Take that, Benedict Cumberbatch! 15 and 16 has a partial double-paged spread showing one of the characters leaping into the air to get the first punch on a monstrous foe. This looks good. I like the last panel on 16 as it shows the remaining hero looking resolute in her stand as the battle in the sky continues. What’s discovered on 18 is good and visually teases this group’s possible return in a future issue. Page 20 smartly has Meyer using energy to direct the way a reader looks at panels, especially in regards to a particular object. However, there are a lot of small panels that were begun on 17 and continue through 19. This made the action a little less epic than how it began. Oberon returns on the final page, showing that he has minions at his command to help him in his revenge. These individuals still aren’t clearly shown, so I’m hoping that more can be seen of them in the next installment. Overall grade: B

The colors: Considering the dark start for this book and where the final battle is fought, colorist Jorge Cortes does a really good job in keeping things bright for the reader. With a book set in myths and legends, I expect the colors to be fairy tale bright. The yellow stripe on Merlin’s cowl always draws focus to him, even if he’s in the shadows of the sewers. The action on the bridge and the reveal of Oberon has a lot of work done in blues and whites, which gives the events a powerful tone. I like how Oberon’s proclamation on Page 5 is outlined in a bright yellow to ensure the reader views what he’s saying. The highlights in Skye and Sam’s hair are outstanding. The shading done on the characters’ faces and clothes are also outstanding. The reveal of the antagonist on 9 is awash in supernatural violets and the villain wears crimson to catch the reader’s attention. Both colors make the baddie otherworldly. The energy that’s unleashed on 10 is excellent in blues, yellows, crimsons, and whites. The greens on 12 are wonderfully supernaturally. The reds on the monstrous villain are a little too dark, with the muscles of the creature lost in the colors often. I really like the coloring on the character in the final panel on 17, showing some good work with light sources. Dark magic is outstandingly colored on 20, with blues, violets, and greens excellent. Cortes is working magic on this book. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios brings the text of this book to life, creating narration, dialogue, sounds, yells, scene settings, laughter, and the tease for next issue. When a letterer creates narration that’s different from dialogue it’s a moment to embrace because it doesn’t happen often enough. The scene settings are zippy, tilted slightly to the right, visually drawing the reader into the panel after the text as been read. The sounds in this are top notch, with the evil laughter by one character exemplary. The tease for next issue is tiny, but look at how Esposito makes it a neat visual treat. Overall grade: A

The final line: Skye and Sam fight three villains, while another and his minions wait in the wings. The protagonists finally have linked previous troublemakers together to a single event and look as if they’re ready to put the bad guys in their place. Unfortunately, the bads have other plans. The story progresses the Age of Camelot saga, contains plenty of action, and the accompanying visuals enhance the tale. A fun installment. Overall grade: B+

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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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