In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #20

Skye and the Black Knight encounter obstacles as they try to stop Merlin.

The covers: A lucky thirteen covers to collect for the official launch of the Knights of the Round Table onto the Zenescope Universe. The A cover is by Edgar Salazar and Ivan Nunes and shows longtime Zenescope villainess Baba Yaga looking fierce. She’s standing in a fire holding her scepter whose energies are flowing wildly out of it and into the sky. Good sense of motion from Salazar with the fire, the scepter’s energy, and the character’s cape and hair. Great coloring from Nunes as well, with the fire and the energy from Baba’s staff looking strong. I also like the crimson taint on the character, making her look like the embodiment of evil. This villain is also featured on the B cover by Caanan White and Grostieta. She’s high in the air on the right side of the cover, about to the blast the Black Knight who’s on the ground trying to slash the witch. Love the action poses on this and once again the colors sing on a cover. The lighting effects are really well done by Grostieta. The cover I’ve chosen to accompany this review is the C created by Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos. A beautiful and powerful image of Skye cradling the tome that’s become so much trouble of late in her left hand while she holds her sword out to ward of the reader. Behind her a circular portal is opening to reveal a city that might be Camelot. Fantastic looking character from Anacleto and those colors are stunning by Mos, with the greens and oranges outstanding. This is print, poster, and tee shirt worthy. The final regular cover is the D by Harvey Tolibao and Jorge Cortes. This features a creature that scared the tar out of me when I was little: Baba Yaga’s house. It’s a wooden house that stands on two enormous chicken legs. One of the creature’s claws is attempting to grasp Skye, but the heroine has her sword out and is not going to make this easy for the enchanted dwelling. I love the house, but Skye is at a really odd, though realistic, angle, so it’s hard to see her. The colors are good, with Skye standing out in her bright costume against the dark structure. There are nine other covers, but I couldn’t find any images of them online. They include the New York Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 350/350/100 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis, the New York Comic Con Sela Statue Exclusives (limited to 50/50) by Keith Garvey, the New York Comic Con Best of Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 150) by Garvey, the New York Comic Con Webstore Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 350) by David Nakayama, the New York Comic Con Cosplay Foil Exclusive (limited to 50) by Mike Krome and Ula Mos, and the New York Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 75) by Derlis Santacruz and Sanju Nivangune. Good luck, collectors! Looks like you need to go to New York! Overall grades: A A-, B A, C A+, and D B

The story: Picking up from last issue in Camelot, Merlin commands the recently revealed Knight of the Round Table to kill the Black Knight since she will not join them in their cause. Blaze controls fire, Morningstar wields white light, Knightshade controls creates he can create from shadows, Baba Yaga is a witch, and King Arthur is reincarnated version of the legendary figure. All seek to obey Merlin’s orders, but the Black Knight is no weakling and defends herself well. However, when surrounded by these villains, she cannot fight them from every side and falls to the ground. Just as it seems that writer Joe Brusha is about to kill this outstanding character, something happens that’s very cool and causes even Merlin to scratch his beard as he considers what’s happened. In the Realm of Myst, Shang has come to get information and receives it from an old man. Skye is in England on a quest of her own, unaware that someone knows she’s arrived. The Black Knight’s rescuer is a neat character and I’m hoping to see more of this individual. There’s a brief scene where Merlin says something to his knights that seems to sow the seeds of disrespect among them. Skye and her pursuer have a brief fight, though it’s ultimate outcome will have to wait until the next issue to see how things completely play out. A really smoothly told tale with some solid action and important information given that doesn’t slow things down. Overall grade: B+

The art: Eman Casallos is the book’s artist making things look good. The first panel of the book introduces antagonist Merlin and he’s got the perfect evil gaze as he peers at the reader, plus his grasping right hand is excellent. I love the tiny panel that introduces the Black Knight, making her look extremely small and weak to the reader. The full-page splash is set up very realistically, but I would have preferred to see the villains a little more clearly. They are more visible as the battle progresses, with the Black Knight also displaying some killer moves. The largest panel on Page 4 has a terrific reaction from a character that’s surprised by something — very cool. The entrance and exit on 6 and 7 is very well done, with a lot of power evident on the page. I really like the final panel in this sequence showing Merlin considering what’s just occurred. Shang looks good when he appears, as do the two individual he meets with in the Myst. The full-paged splash on 11 is a good visual summary of some of Skye’s recent obstacles in this series. The new character reveal on 12 was a solid surprise for several reasons and I do want to see more of this individual. The reveal at a setting on 15 is very good; it’s easily understood by the reader, but what it represents is a plot thread that’s left dangling for a future issue. My favorite page of this issue is 18 simply because of the character shown. Is it me or is that Anthony Stewart Head on 19? Might be too many Buffy comics in my past making me see him. Pages 20 and 21 have a good, though short, action sequence and Casallos really shows himself to be exceptionally strong and putting characters in realistic positions during a battle; I was especially impressed with the third panel on 20. Reality could have been fudged a little more often to show the characters better, but I would welcome Casallos back to any book. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Some comic books are set in extremely dark settings. This has the colorist choosing between creating a strong reality for the locale by having the artwork very dark or going too far in the other direction and having night look like the middle of a normal day. It’s a good colorist who can create and maintain a night setting and have the characters and every aspect of the art remain clear. Such a colorist is Jorge Cortes. The top of a tower in Camelot at night is the opening scene and Cortes keeps the sky murky. Blacks and grays comprise the night and this allows the characters to really pop out on the page, even if their costume is dark, as is the case with the Black Knight. The different colors of the newly created knights have them stand out, especially Blaze and the fire he creates. I was really impressed with the large panel on Page 4 which has a character reacting to an action looking fantastic. The emeralds used for one character’s arrival and departure are magical. Whites and blues are used very well for a character in the Myst and the flesh colors and light source on Shang are great. In fact, throughout the book Cortes does an exceptionally good job in placing highlights on every character and setting. It’s so good that the reader might miss it if one doesn’t specifically go looking for it. Foliage also is strong, with a forest and grass, that’s right — I’m looking at the grass — particularly vibrant. Cortes is really on point this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios provides the issue’s scene settings, dialogue, narration, yells, character identifications, sounds, a character’s quiet voice, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings have a classic flair to them, making them completely appropriate for all the realms traveled. The yells are large, making them sound loud on the page. The sounds are really neat. Each is in a unique font that is the perfect accompaniment for the action on the page, with some of my favorites including FWOOSH, KRAKKLL, POP, and BLAM. Esposito is always outstanding. Overall grade: A

The final line: Skye and the Black Knight encounter obstacles as they try to stop Merlin. A fun story, setting up more troubles in the future, and art that’s done in a very realistic style. Grimm Fairy Tales continues to be one of the most consistent well written and drawn books on the shelves. 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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