In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #17

An origin tale intercuts with dangers in the present for a fun read.

The covers: Twelve issues to find if one is a super Zenescope fan. The A cover is by Drew Edward Johnson and Ceci de la Cruz. Skye is flying through the sky, with one hand holding her sword and the other powering up with energy. She’s accompanied by several fairies. She’s flying against a full moon with some very cool fog. She’s flying over a bridge that has a hidden occupant, but its orange eyes and white teeth alert the reader to its presence. The skulls on the bridge should also be a sign that this is not a pleasant place. Solid cover with excellent colors. Sheldon Goh and Sanju Nivangune are responsible for the B cover that has Oberon and Skye in combat, he with his hammer and she with her sword. Both characters look great and the energy coming out of their weapons is fantastic. The coloring is also great; Oberon is colored darkly, revealing his nature symbolically, while Skye is as fair as Snow White. Love this image. The C cover, by Michael Dooney and Ula Mos, is the frontpiece I chose to accompany this review. This is a terrific image of Samantha, with one hand on her hip while the other gives an example of her abilities — blue and white energy sparking beautifully. I like Sam, there’s not enough of her in any book, and the look on her face is perfection. I love this. I also love the D by Harvey Tolibao and Ivan Nunes, though it doesn’t feature a lovely woman on it. This has a superbly detailed troll making its way through a lavishly detailed medieval town. This is a stunner in every possible way. The art is perfect and the colors are perfect. This is perfection. I sadly couldn’t find covers to the following variant covers: the Quarterly Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis, the VIP Exclusive (limited to 75) by Chatzoudis, the Zenebox Exclusive (limited to 50) again by Chatzoudis, the July In-Store Exclusive (limited to 100) by Derlis Santacruz and Mos, the San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive (limited to 50) by Eric Basaldua, another San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive (limited to 250/100 copies) by Santacruz and Mos, and the San Diego Comic-Con Blank Sketch cover (limited to 350). Good luck chasing these down, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A, C A+, and D A+

The story: This issue focuses on the backstory of new villain Oberon. The first four pages focus exclusively on his origin, with Camelot of days gone by shown and the future baddie off to see the Emperor of Camelot to find a cure for the sickness of his fairy wife. The Emperor tells him that the feather of the last Golden Eagle will be needed, though the surly smile from the ruler tells the reader that Oberon may have made a bargain with the devil. Facing many obstacles, he achieves his goal. Writer Joe Brusha then moves his tale to the present with Sam and Skye reading this information from the scrolls they have. Shang and another familiar face appear with the ancient mentor continuing the tale for the heroes and reader, showing who turned the poor man over to the Dark Side and how he acquired his weapon O’fal, which can control trolls. The four heroes venture into the cave discovered last issue and split up — which naturally leads to trouble. As they venture forward in the dark, the story continues to tell Oberon’s past and how he helped bring war to Camelot. I was surprised by the turn of events on Page 20, leaving me wanting to hear more of this man’s past. In the present, trolls provide troubles for the cast, with one character their only hope for escape. I’m normally not a fan of origin issues that take an entire issue, but this was engaging and having it interject into the events of the present created some solid tension in both storylines. Very enjoyable. Overall grade: A 

The art: Two artists on this issue, Leo Rodrigues and Jason Muhr. It’s fairly obviously that one artist is responsible for the origin of Oberon and the other covers the events in the present. The credits don’t say who’s responsible for which section, but they look okay. The origin story has less textured art than those set in the present, but it works. The second page has a really good illustration of Camelot in its heyday, before it’s become the sinister environment as shown in other Zenescope books. The first image of Oberon is an extreme close-up of his eyes, showing the intensity of his resolve. His first full reveal is on 2 and he’s big and buff, but still has the persona of a farmer. The interiors of the Emperor’s castle are very basic, with the construction one would expect of a castle, but lines don’t connect and the shading, such as on the stairs, is very rushed. I really like the layout at the top of the fourth page which shows the obstacles Oberon encountered. Page 5 has the other artist begin and the characters are much more developed. When two of the heroes are shown before an ancient door on Page 11 it is awesome looking: this is a door that would cause anyone concern. Pages 13 and 14 contain a partial double-paged spread that shows the battle between two forces and it’s nicely done, with humans, trolls, and magically enhanced individuals beating the tar out of one another. It’s a small detail, but the arrows flying through the air are a nice touch, showing death coming blindly from each side. The women encounter trolls and the battle with them is quick but wonderfully illustrated, such as in the first panel on 16. A new character is introduced on Page 17 and he and his throne are great. The surprise on 20 is terrific, but the panels that precede it are very simple, with the background rudimentary in its construction. So much so, I gravitated on them initially, rather than the major drama occurring before it. The final panel is great, not only for the character’s reaction, but for the use of a vertical panel which is the perfect way to construct it. Half the book looks better than the other, though the art is serviceable. Overall grade: B

The colors: There are also two different colorists for this issue, Jorge Cortes & Robby Bevard. I’m sure each one worked exclusively on one artist, but like the artists, neither is specifically credited as to what pages they did. The origin story usually has one panel per page that has an overwhelming light source. It’s often to show the power of the sun, which is fine, but does the character before the sun on Page 2 need to be overwhelmed by the light? It makes the art seem muddled, not cool. On the third page the light is to make the meeting with the Emperor seem godly and it does. The fourth page has some beautiful colors to accompany Oberon on his quest. The present gets some darker colors, though the highlights on the characters are terrific, be they on the characters’ flesh on or their clothes. The use of greens on 8 and 9 are neat. Reds highlight 19 and 20, making those pages extra dramatic. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios, one of the best in the biz, creates narration, dialogue, scene settings, troll speech, one sound, and the tease for next issue. I am always pleased when narration is given a different font from dialogue, as Esposito does so here, and when inhuman characters get their own unique font, as the trolls do, and it looks fantastic. There’s only one sound in this issue, which I understand, as the flashbacks don’t require sounds, but Esposito’s one sound looks great and promises more explosive noises in future issues. Overall grade: A

The final line: An origin tale intercuts with dangers in the present for a fun read. I was impressed to enjoy an origin story so much and the visuals were well done. Oberon looks to be a major figure in Skye’s future, not to mention the army of trolls he commands. The players move into position for a big blowout next issue and I’m looking forward to it. 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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