In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #18

A solid action issue with trolls causing trouble for our heroes and New Yorkers.

The covers: Five to find before Merlin steals them out from under you! The A cover is by Alan Quah and Komikaki Studio (featuring Sean Lee). This has Skye standing on a pointed bit of architecture with her sword flaming a glorious pink. Behind her is a wonderfully detailed fantasy castle that’s full of points and strange angles that would please an H.P. Lovecraft fan. The character work on Skye is fantastic. I’d love to see more from this group of artists. The B cover by Fritz Casas and Vinicius Andrade is an action piece showing Skye and the Black Knight going up against a pair of monstrous trolls. The characters look great and Skye really catches the focus with her bright colors and the magic she projects. The trolls have got some good details on them that make this a winning cover. The image I chose to accompany this review is the C cover by Ula Mos. Often Mos creates the colors for several of Zenescope’s titles, but this image should be proof enough that Mos has got plenty of talent to go it solo. This is a gorgeous image of Skye holding her sword before the reader in a forest while her left hand exudes a beautiful stream of violet energy. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. A neat change of pace arrives on the D cover by Allan Otero and Hedwin Zaldivar. This has the troll king sitting on his throne, which is upon a mountain of skulls. Behind him is loyal Oberon and before the king is the unconscious form of Samantha Darren. This is a great image with the colors being outstanding. I like how the eye is drawn to Sam because of her bright colors. The fire work is also really neat. The final cover is the Fan Expo Boston Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) is by Derlis Santacruz and Mos, but I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A, C A+, and D A

The story: “Deep underneath the city of New York, a ritual is about to take place.” Several trolls have captured Shang and are going to kill him. The reason the warrior priest has been captured is that the evil Merlin has done something to make him unable to use magic, leaving him vulnerable. After giving him some villainous teasing, writer Joe Brusha has Merlin leave to do some other deviltry, while the trolls prepare their ceremony to kill the protagonist. Where’s Skye? She’s getting help from Peyton Parks, who’s just left work. Skye catches her in the subway, where Peyton isn’t prepared to play nice, since the two last battled when Peyton was the Black Knight. Skye explains everything to her in twenty minutes, Peyton changes into the Black Knight, and the two go further underground to stop the threat of the trolls. I’m happy with writers that don’t waste time filling in the characters with information that the audience already knows. This way the action can occur more quickly and it certainly does in this book. There’s a big fight underground and on the streets as several trolls make it to the surface of downtown New York. This is an action issue, paying off for the build last issue and Brusha makes it work well. I wasn’t expecting what a freed Shang would be capable of on Pages 20 and 21. And lest the reader forget that Merlin is the true big bad of this series, he makes a cameo in the final panels, reminding readers he’s got a master plan that’s yet to be revealed. The action in this is good, with everyone getting a moment to shine. However, I’m getting a little tired of Merlin ending tales as he does in this issue. I’m looking for some explanation at some point for the items he’s collecting. I’d like it sooner than later. Overall grade: A-

The art: Eman Casallos has a good eye in creating fanciful characters such as the trolls, especially the witch and the king of these people. The opening page begins with extremely well detailed creatures. I was a little disappointed that the story had Casallos turn the focus over to Merlin and Shang, but that’s where it needed to go. Speaking of Merlin, check out that entrance in the first panel on Page 2 — that’s a strut! Heck, I admit to hearing Right Said Fred’s hit song looking at that panel a few times, but it’s the perfect image of a happy villain. In fact, the joy on this face in the third panel demonstrates his cockiness to the reader beautifully. The full-paged splash on 3 is outstanding as the witch holds a heart before the throng of trolls. I also like how Casallos differentiated the trolls, with each having their own look, rather than going for a copycat look on the mob. Peyton looks great, Skye is also fantastic, and the Black Knight is beautiful and tough. Pages 6 and 7 is a very nicely paced sequence of the heroes deciding what to do as the trolls began to make their moves: very cinematic. The action on 8 doesn’t work as smoothly, however. Shang’s inclusion isn’t necessary in the large panel and the heroes are too small to see as they start the fight. The explosive blast from Skye overwhelms the victim’s image. That said, things improve after this, with the hostages freed and the battle continuing on two fronts. The action on the surface looks great, while the action below is good. The brief fire effects on a sword don’t gel too well with everything else in its panel, but the item that Shang uses and its effects are stunning. The last page of the book looks okay, but it’s really dark and difficult to make out the visuals. Overall grade: B

The colors: A majority of this book is set underground and demands that dark colors are used, but this is a comic book. Some cheating with the “reality” of the colors should have been used more often by Jorge Cortes. Things start well on the first page and improve when Merlin makes the scene, with the bright blues of his costume and energy filled green eyes brightening things. However, look at Page 3. The torches are terrific, but the trolls are a little too dark. The witch’s hand is also too dark, so much so that the reader doesn’t focus on it immediately. The pages with Peyton and Skye are good, because both characters have bright clothes and fair skin, making them stand out. Once the story returns to underground the backgrounds are too dark, with characters blending into them. Cortes smartly places brighter colors to backlight some of the characters, but the browns and tans are too dark. For example, look at the bottom panel on 9 — the background is lost, even though it’s there. Things fare much better on the streets of NY, with the trolls and the humans looking outstanding. Oberon’s hammer has got some terrific blues and Shang’s weapon has some terrific golds and yellows. The final page is really dark. This is a mixed bag for colors. Overall grade: C+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates narration, dialogue, troll speak, scene settings, whispered speech, troll speech translations, sounds, and the tease for next issue. I love seeing a different front employed for characters to separated them from humans and the trolls’ speech looks great. I wasn’t prepared to see their speech translated for the reader to understand and to have it be an entirely different font, which, again, separates them from normal characters. An outstanding bit of work from Esposito. The dialogue is different from the narration, which is something I admire in letterers, and Esposito does that as well. The sounds are big, which these fights demand, and the tease for next issue is very elegant. Esposito is always at the top of his game. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A solid action issue with trolls causing trouble for New Yorkers. The story keeps the action exciting, but the visuals are hampered occasionally for being too dark. Still, this is a fun issue and one fans of Skye will enjoy. 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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