In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales: 2019 Giant-Size

Two good surprises cap this segment of the Camelot saga, but the visuals don't help.

The covers: Nine different covers to choose for this change in the Camelot saga. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes. Skye holds her sword down to protect her right side as flames and debris spray about her. I like the illustration, though there’s so much orange and yellow it is a bit difficult to make out Skye, with her hair being lost in the chaos. I would like to see this before it was colored. The B by Caanan White and Ceci de la Cruz has Liesel van Helsing with crossbow/pistols in each hand, showing a lot of leg as she avoids the wrath of a dryad in London. This is an okay image, with the character distorted because of the angle and a ton of computer augmentation to get some speed around the creature in its attacks. I’m just not a fan of using computers and art in this way, with this just not looking good. The colors get blurred in the process, making them look poor. I am floored, however, by the C which was created by John Royle, Jagdish Kumar, and Mohan Kivakami. This has the Black Knight in Antarctica with a flaming sword in her right hand and a flaming torch in her left. The wind is at gale levels kicking snow up and causing her hair and cape to billow forward. In the distance a pyramid can be seen. The art looks great and the colors are fantastic. I really like this. The villain of this issue, and this series, gets the focus on Allan Otero and Nunes’s D cover. Within a castle that’s catching some considerable light from the windows, a full figured Merlin, in his new outfit, stares at an orb he’s levitating in his left hand. This a good image of the villain and the lighting effects from the sun and orb are terrific. I always enjoy when the bad guy gets a cover to themselves. One of my favorite characters, Robyn Hood is the subject of the final regular cover, the E, by Anthony Spay and Diego Ocampo. She’s facing the reader, nocking an arrow, and looking slightly to the right. Behind her is the spectacular backdrop of the pyramids. I love the look of the hero, the background is excellent, and the colors brilliant. There are four other covers, all exclusives, but I couldn’t fine images of them online. They include the Pisces Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis, the Wondercon Exclusive (limited to 350/75 copies) by David Nakayama, and the VIP Comic Fest 2019 Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) by Paul Green and Ula Mos. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A B, B C+, C A+, D B, and E A

The story: Joe Brusha’s tale opens with Peyton Parks, the Black Knight, arriving in Antarctica. As she takes in her surroundings she’s blasted by a bolt of flames and falls forward off a cliff. On the precipice stand two of Merlin’s minions who’ve been instructed to enter the pyramid and prepare to connect the Realms of Power through the Nexus. The next two pages bring the reader up to speed with what occurred in Grimm Fairy Tales: 2019 Annual. This is quick and the action resumes in the present where Shang is trying to fend off the blast of a dragon that’s being ridden by Morgan le Fay, while Merlin watches and tells the wizard he won’t last. It’s just after this that Brusha has Merlin reveal something about his character that casts a large shadow on his goal. Someone arrives to help Shang in the nick of time and it’s wonderfully heroic. The story returns to Merlin who has an unexpected change that even leaves Shang wary. Meanwhile in London, Sam, the Red Agent, and Avril are tying to take down the Green Knight’s monstrous dryad that’s wrecking havoc. There’s a great shock for long time readers on Page 18. Robyn is fighting the Cup couple, with things not going well, which is the same luck Mystere is encountering. Page 25 has a reoccurring villain join in the battle against Merlin, with the latter revealing his new persona to all. The climax on 32 is an awesome surprise and it’s doubled by who unintentionally takes part in this twist. The issue ends with a character on a rescue mission and she takes her first step on the final page. My hat is off to Brusha for a solid twist, keeping Skye and her friends on the defense, as well as warping this saga in a new direction. It’s not at all what I was expecting and I’m revved up to see what Skye will do next. Overall: A-

The art: Eman Casallos and Milton Estevan (Pages 33-34) are responsible for the issue’s artwork. Throughout the issue Casallos employs dots in his visuals that call back to classic comic coloring. It takes me out of the reading experience because it just doesn’t gel with the visuals. That said, the opening page is a full-paged splash that shows Peyton in Antarctica. It nicely establishes the character, the surroundings, and the pyramid. Her take down on the second page is too small. I do like the reveal of the villain in the second panel, but the third small panel that’s from the point of view from over his shoulder is not necessary. The transition between panels four and five is outstanding, though. I really like that. The two pages that follow are the flashbacks and they show key moments from the last installment well. Shang’s predicament on 5 is good with a close-up on him before pulling back to show the dragon’s attack. Merlin is too far from the reader on this page throughout, leaving the reader in a lurch as to what this big bad looks like. The final panel on 5 is fine, though I thought of Klytus’s death in Flash Gordon looking at it. The hero’s entrance on 7 is good, but again, too small. This is an issue throughout the book, too many panels on the page with most of the action too far from the reader to fully experience the energy occurring. 11 has a large panel from an odd angle with the right fourth of it being a sound effect. It shouldn’t have been. What’s going on in the first panel on 13? Don’t know, can’t tell, and it’s really far away from the reader. I do like the character in the final panel on this page. The battle in London is the same, too far from the reader. Thankfully, the reveal at the end of 18 is pulled in to so the reader can identify the character. The arrival on 25 is okay, but, you guessed it, too far from the reader. The full-paged splash on 26 comes off as awkward because the armor looks awkward and the grass looks rushed. 30 could have been epic, but the character is the size of my thumb. The first two panels on 31 lose a lot of punch because the character’s face is blacked out for moody shading. This cut the moment at the knees, lessening it. Estevan takes over for the final two pages, with the characters looking fine, though a tad squat, and the final page, a full-paged splash, has the character’s hands as big as her head. The visuals on this book told the story, but weren’t up for this price increase and change in the saga’s structure. Overall grade: C

The colors: I did enjoy the colors by Jorge Cortes on this book. The blues on the opening two pages create the cold environment very well. When the flashbacks occur they’re tinted in sepia to age them. Having the narration boxes throughout the book in yellow is a good hallmark for the reader to realize they’re not reading dialogue. The oranges and yellows from the dragon and for the beast are really strong and make its scenes strong. The light blues that the hero emits as the individual flies are really cool. The battle in London has some great colors, with orange, bone, blue, and gray outstanding. The colors in Egypt, though brief, also look good. Several pages of the climax have some blah colors, but that’s because Cortes doesn’t really have much to work with. I was happy with the choices on 30, but brighter and more varied colors would have made this much more spectacular. The statuary and smoke on the final page has some solid depth to them. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, and editorial note, yells, sounds, a villain’s unique speech, and the tease for the next issue of Grimm Fairy Tales are created by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. The scene settings on this book are zippy, with a bold font, that uses lower case letters (!), titled slightly to the right, directing the reader into the page. The difference between the dialogue and narration is slight, but I’m glad that Esposito differed it. The sounds are big, though they do look all to be in the same font; I would have preferred to see a variety in the design of the sounds. The unique font for the villain is great; the look of it instantly tells the reader that this character is not human. The tease of the next issue of GFT is a slim but strong font that catches the eye. I always enjoy books lettered by Esposito. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Two good surprises cap this segment of the Camelot saga, but the visuals don’t help the book. I liked the story, with it doing something unexpected and smoothly starting a new direction for one hero. The visuals are constantly filled with odd choices, often too far from the reader or from odd points of view. The colors and letters are good, but with these visuals they can’t help enough. This would probably be better in a collected format with the previous installments of this story. 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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