In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales 2017 Holiday Special

A deliciously deviant trio of tales of terror for those sick souls that crave horror for the holiday.

The covers: A magical six frontpieces for fans to choose from or chase down to stuff in a stocking. The A cover is by Ediano Silva and Sanju Nivangune. Skye stands in a snow covered street of suburbia, wielding her sword with both hands. She’s surrounded by four deviant looking elves, clothed in bright sinister red and green garb. A solid cover with the colors making the characters stand out. Robert Atkins and Mohan Sivakami do a sensational wraparound cover for the B edition. Skye is again outdoors, though she now has a scarf to keep her a little warm. Her sword is in one hand as she looks down at the sickly green hands emerging from the snow to destroy the merriment of the season. The back cover of the image features one of the fearsome hands in addition to a fantastic tree decorated appropriately. I can’t think of the last time I saw a wraparound cover on a Zenescope book and based on this example it needs to occur more often. The cheesecake cover is the C by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos showcasing a gorgeous Skye on her knees, dressed in a revealing Santa suit, looking up at the reader. One should keep their distance, though, as she has her sword out and held casually on her left shoulder. Outstanding. The last of the regular covers is a welcome addition since it features Krampus himself (itself?) dressed as Santa, making his way across rooftops, sporting a large bag. Never mind the fact that a reindeer has raised its head and orange energy is streaming out of the creature’s eyes. My hat’s off to Anthony Spay and Wes Hartman for this D cover that teases the tales within this book. The Holiday Exclusive cover (limited to 250 copies) is by Paul Green and Mos has a beautiful, buxom blonde dressed in a blue, low cut top and matching skirt, as well as white gloves, a red thong, and Santa hat. Her hands are behind her head as she stands against a green backdrop where snowflakes are falling. Beneath her are several presents of all shapes and sizes. Green’s work constantly sells out, so get one of these while you can! The ZENEBOX Exclusive (limited to 150 copies) hails from Keith Garvey and features Jasmine holding a sword while kneeling before the reader. She’s in a light blue top with sheer material around her legs. Jewelry also can be seen around her neck, wrists, and waist. Nicely done. Overall grades: A B+, B A, C A, D A, Holiday Exclusive A+, and ZENEBOX Exclusive B-

The stories: This is a terrific idea for a holiday one-shot, conceived by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini: the night before Christmas, Skye’s bedroom is invaded by demons that hold her down while Krampus reads her three tales from her magical book that he’s fond of. The first tale is “The Elves and the Shoemaker” written by Terry Kavanagh is an eight page tale that twists the classic tale wonderfully, heading to a sick conclusion. The build to the climax echoes the classic EC Comics style and I immediately reread it as soon as I was done. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Howard Mackie is also a winner, as four individuals attempt to capture children from an orphanage to sell into slavery. This is also eight pages and reads quickly, with the quartet encountering difficulties of a horrific nature. Again, I reread this as soon as I was done. The final tale is “Winter’s Night” by Erica J. Heflin. A little girl finds the Christmas spirit outside a window. I love stories where the financially elite meet their comeuppance, but this tale has several strong twists, including one in the final panel that’s sensational. And, yes, I had to reread this immediately as well. Dave Franchini is the writer of the opening and closing segments that bookend these tales, and they, too, are entertaining. All of these tales are sensationally sick stories for the season. Overall grade: A 

The art: The opening and closing pages of this collection of creepiness are by Yusuf Idris and they look great. I love the look of Krampus and his minions and when Skye powers up on the penultimate page she looks super. I’d love to see this mystery artist do more work for Zenescope. Marvelo Basile is the artist on the Shoemaker tale and the expressions he gives all the characters sell this story immensely. The design of the characters is a key element to realizing what’s going on behind the scenes and leads to a fantastic visual conclusion that is delightfully nauseous. Renzo Rodriguez is very cinematic with his visuals on the kidnapping tale. This is especially true with the first panel of the waifs and the storyteller, the last panel on Page 16, the discovery in the middle of 17, and the shock on 19. Basile has essentially storyboarded this tale should a, very wise, producer want to film this horror. The rich have wonderful looks of tedium and upturned noses in Marcelo Costa’s final story. The lack of other children at the event make Abigail a stand out in every panel and the looks she gives are excellent. The individual that catches her attention is more than familiar looking, provoking a strong feeling from the reader. The final page is a shock with all that happens, though it’s the reveal in the final panel that left me smiling tremendously. All three of these artists make this book’s tales frightening and pleasing. Overall grade: A

The colors: Slamet Mujiono is the colorist of the bookend pieces and the colors make the characters, human and supernatural, look good. I especially like when Skye powers up. There is no colorist credited for the first tale, so I’m going to assume it was done by Basile. The use of yellow, orange, and tans for the first tale give the daylight hours a warm feel, but as the story progresses they become sickly, ultimately becoming the perfect ghastly shade for the final panel. The second tale is very dark, as the characters are trying to move about stealthily in a large wooden house. Valentina Cuomo’s lighting effects on this story are good, with reds used excellently for eyes and the the varied colors of the children’s clothes giving them a realistic look. There is no colorist stated for “Winter’s Night,” so I’m guessing it was Costa. The contrast of colors between the interior and exterior of the house transition the reader smoothly between the two locales. It’s also interesting to note that Abigail’s flesh tones match the exteriors. The final page does a really good job with yellows and oranges, making the fright bright. Overall grade: A

The letters: Fabio Amelia is the letterer for the entire issue, creating scene settings, narration, Krampus and minion dialogue, normal dialogue, whispers, elvish speech, screams, signage, sounds, and laughter. I’m always applauding letterers that make narration different from dialogue and creatures that have their own unique font, such as Krampus and his little ones. Amelia does both outstandingly in this book. I also need to draw attention to the classical look of the elves’ speech, which makes them delightfully familiar. The sounds are also good, with my favorite being the FWOMP in the second tale. Amelia is a terrific contributor to this issue. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A delicious, deviant trio of tales of terror that’s the perfect stocking stuffer for those sick souls that crave horror for the holiday. The best Zenescope one-shot of the year that closes out 2017 with superbly! Overall grade: A

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To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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