In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales 2016 Annual

An excellent opening in the next phase of the Fairy Tales saga. Recommended.

The covers: There are seven different covers to track down for this issue that marks a stark change in direction for the Grimm Fairy Tales franchise. The A cover is by Paolo Pantalena and Arif Prianto. This has Skye Mathers wearing the outfit that her mother is most known for, as well as in a situation her mother would be in: surrounded by supernatural characters that wish to do her harm. Three ratmen surround her, each bearing wicked blades. Above all is the Pied Piper delivering a melody of mayhem. Good cover by Pantalena, who always does a good job on his characters, making the beautiful lovely and the inhuman monstrous. The colors are also good, with a sickly green being used by Prianto on the background to make the fighters in the foreground stand out. The B cover is by Alfredo Reyes and Sanju Nivangume and it is a horrific take on Little Miss Muffet, who, wearing a short skirt showing off her legs, is on the ground screaming at the approach of a ghastly, gigantic spider. The character is good and the monster is appropriately frightening, though I wanted the image to be pulled in tighter to the characters, with not so much background show. The C cover is created by Pasquale Qualano and Ceci De La Cruz, showcasing an image of Skye, again wearing her mother’s iconic outfit, holding a book as paper falls about her. Could this be suggesting that she is going to…Hmmm…This is my favorite cover because it shows her looking her age and her smile very knowing. Outstanding! Renato Rei and Wes Hartman deliver the D cover which has Sela, Robyn Locksley, Britney Walters, and a recent addition to the Realm Knights. It’s a good action pose of all the characters against a white background, but there’s nothing special about this to warrant this as a cover — it’s a stock image. The New York Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive cover is limited to 500 and 100 copies, although what the difference is between each, I don’t know. What I do know is that this frontpiece created by Paul Green and Ula Mos is one that fans are going to be screaming to get their hands on. It features a Robyn in a tightly fitting Darth Vader costume. Green always is amazing with his covers for Zenescope and Mos is always top notch. This is one to track down! There’s also a New York Comic Con Zenbox Exclusive limited to 300 copies from the same pair of creators, but I couldn’t find a copy of it online, so good luck tracking that one down! Overall grades: A A, B B, C A+, D B, and NYCC Cosplay Exclusive A+

The story: Troy Brownfield is the writer of this story from Joe Brusha. The issue opens with Skylar Mathers, also known as Skye, standing at her mother’s grave at Arcane Acre. She doesn’t know how her mother was so strong, and she voices her uncertainty aloud. Shang sees her and tells her, “Even the strong fold in the face of unimaginable pain. So it’s not always strength.” He asks if she’d like to take a stroll around the school grounds because “It’s hard for me to stay here very long, too.” The two end up in Shang’s office where he tells her she could just walk away from the school, away from the life it will give her, so she could be normal. That night some characters disturb her sleep, causing her to make a decision. This is an outstanding introduction to Skye for new readers and some terrific growth to her character for those who’ve been following her exploits. Brusha has set up a good premise that Brownfield delivers flawlessly. This is how a character, and a change to a franchise, should be presented to readers. The first character that Skye encounters, on Page 10, is horrific, while the two that appear on 11 and 12 are exciting. I was wondering if this story would simply introduce characters in Skye’s path for her to battle or reconnect with, but Brusha and Brownfield wisely include moments where the protagonist has to think about her life (Page 16). The encounter on 18 – 21 is thrilling, and its action and resolution would have been more than sufficient to end a book, but the Skye has one more character to battle and it is here that she does something to prove to herself, and the reader, that her choice is made. This was a good story with lots of action and enough emotion to make this transition to the next generation memorable. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are four different artists on this book, with the visuals improving in the middle chapters. The first chapter is by Edu Menna, Pages 1 – 8. These pages consist of Skye at her mother’s grave and speaking with Shang. They look okay, but there’s nothing in them that’s outstanding. The character work is fine, but the backgrounds are very simple. Skye and Shang’s faces indoors do not resemble their faces outside, which is problematic. Menna has the least exciting pages to do for the issue, but they could have been more visually interesting than what’s given. The second chapter, Pages 9 – 16, has Carlos Granda taking over the visuals and it’s like night and day. The characters are consistent and look exceptional, and the backgrounds are highly detailed. What happens to a character on 10 is grotesque, but illustrated so well, I had to stop at look at the amount of work done in “that” panel. The design of the character that appears at the bottom of 11 is spectacular. The characters that attack on 13 are great, and the point of view from which Granda lays out his panels makes their numbers seem overwhelming. There’s a lot of magic unleashed on these pages and it rivals what I’ve seen in films. With Chapter Three, Pages 17 – 26, Joel Ojeda assumes the art duties, and he, too, does a strong job. The creature and battle that opens his pages are wonderful. The second battle is much different, yet Ojeda makes it exciting to see. The large panel on 26 is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. I’d love to see Ojeda get his own series. The book closes out in the fourth chapter, 27 – 30, and Giorgia Sposito is the artist. Her character work is very strong, with the person in the first panel on 29 eliciting a slight grin from me when I came upon it. The backgrounds are fine, but it’s on the final page that Sposito really gets to shine as three characters get to work. Because the book’s visuals improve after the opening, I felt more pleased with the book as it progressed, and my grade reflects that. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Erick Arciniega colors Chapters 1 and 4, while Robby Bevard is responsible for coloring Chapters 2 and 3. The work on the chapters is seamless. The book opens with some beautiful pink hues as Skye stands over the grave, giving the scene a very loving tone. Inside Shang’s office the colors go darker, with purples often employed, which matches the somber mood of Skye’s choices. Violets are employed when magic is used and, outside of green (I blame Matt Wagner for that), it’s the perfect color to show supernatural energies at work. The oranges and reds on 10 are horrific, and the yellows on 14 incredibly strong. The book ends with violet colors, both inside and outside settings, cementing that the color represents the supernatural. Overall grade: A+

The letters: There’s only one letterer on this book and it’s Christy Sawyer. She’s responsible for creating narration, the chapter titles, dialogue, gravestone text, sounds, and the final two words of the issue. I always have to commend letterers that use a different font for narration and dialogue, as it’s two different forms of communication and visually should be shown as such. Sawyer does a great job on the sounds. The sounds of magic are as elusive as those of dinosaurs, so she creates some terrific fonts to give voice to all the spells and creature wails in the book. I would be remiss if I also didn’t praise her work on the chapter headings, bringing the book back to its fairy tale roots. Overall grade: A+

The final line: An excellent opening in the next phase of the Fairy Tales saga. Recommended for new fans and those that been followers since the beginning. This book came out in October and I would recommend getting a copy since the relaunched Grimm Fairy Tales comes out this month! Overall grade: A

To order a copy of this book go to

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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