In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #21

The story is impressive and the visuals are flat out awesomeness.

The covers: Holy smokes — twelve different covers for the hardcore Zenescope fan to track down! The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes and is the one I chose to accompany this review. Skye is within a library full of several leather bound books. There’s a brass staircase in the background that provides access to the many ancient tomes. There’s also a pedestal holding one volume of lore and there’s an ominous skull atop a stack of books. Enough about the setting, Skye sets her sword aflame to see what’s just pulled her attention skyward. She looks surprised and the flames coming off her sword are terrific. The colors are great, as the flaming blade is the only light source in the image and it’s casting cool colors on everything. This is a great cover. The B hails from Bong Dazo and Hedwin Zaldiver. This is frontpiece that will smack you in the face and spin you around for all the awesomeness it contains. Merlin is being attacked by a giant flying bird. If it’s from mythology I can’t identify it, but I know it can eat anything it wants. Merlin is trying to cast a spell to beat back the bird, but the monstrous avian looks to be too much for him. Seriously, this is an amazing illustration matched with perfect colors from Zaldivar. Absolutely perfect. The “Good Girl” cover is the C from Derlis Santacruz and Nunes. I have no idea who this woman is, wearing minimal armor and a cape, but she’s gorgeous. She’s inside a large room that appears to be an apothecary’s wooden home. Before her lies several bottles of various sizes filled with all manner of concoctions. The colors are a little dark, but this still looks cool. A more traditional Merlin adorns the D by Netho Diaz and Jorge Cortes. The bearded wizard looks to be straining as he holds a blade high in his right hand as his left dispenses a considerable amount of blue energy onto an unseen foe. The background is a castle under a full moon, with a violet sky. Pretty neat. I was able to find an image of the In-Store Exclusive (limited to 100) by Santacruz and Zaldiver. This reminded me of a Dave Stevens illustration from long ago. A witch has her back to the reader, though she’s looking over her left shoulder to spy the person. She smiles at the shock she sees on the reader, as she’s wearing only an expected witch’s hat, black bra, panties, garters, and stockings. There’s much skin to see. Behind her is a full moon from which several bats are flying forward. The background is a halloween orange that turns violet the higher one looks. Very nice! The Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 350) by Michael Dooney and Zaldiver features a raven haired beautify looking as though the ebony colored Marvel symbiote is weaving its way around her. She’s showing a considerable amount of skin, but the tendrils of alien creature are making their way around her as she appears indifferent. A spider outline is on the wall behind her and a black spider drops from the top of the image in the upper left. Across her chest is the Zenescope logo. I like this. I couldn’t find images of the following covers online, so good luck, collectors: London MCM Exclusive (limited to 250/100 copies) by Mike DeBalfo and Ula Mos, Quarterly Exclusive (limited to 250) by Elias Chatzoudis, VIP Exclusive (limited to 75) by Chatzoudis, Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 50) by Chatzoudis, and the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 750) by Geebo Vigonte and Nunes. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C B+, D B+, In-Store Exclusive A, and Cosplay Exclusive A- 

The story: Picking up from last issue, Skye is in the library and is in major trouble. She’s been attacked by bounty hunter Zodiac. As he moves in to make his kill on the unconscious heroine, writer Joe Brusha moves away from London and turns to Camelot where the evil Merlin holds out a piece of the Holy Grail he stole from Arthur’s tomb. The item flies into the air and he says, “This was the heart of Camelot’s power until it was destroyed. And it is restored…Camelot will once again be the most powerful realm in the universe.” This introduces Merlin’s master plan: restore the Grail and claim the power of Camelot. With this established, the story turns elsewhere in this realm where the Black Knight and new ally Puck are battling some villains. This is a solid showcase of what Puck is capable of and it’s impressive. Once done, the story returns to London where Skye receives some help from one and then three allies. This battle is well done, with the ending being a good surprise. Brusha then continues to put pieces into play by showing what the recently formed new Knights of the Round Table are up to, with one character rediscovering an iconic dwelling. The book ends with Merlin speaking with a Knight that stayed back from the main group to bolster his forces. This new army is going to be a force to be reckoned with in upcoming issues. There’s a lot in play and Brusha does a solid job keeping things moving, interesting, and fun. Overall grade: A 

The art: The visuals on this book by Deivis Goetten are really good. I would definitely check out any other book illustrated by this artist. The points of view on the opening pages are strong, with the third panel on the opening page a good introduction to the relationship between the characters and the first panel on the second page is really excellent — I really like the way Zodiac looks. Merlin’s introduction on 3 is also good and the three panels that follow his close-up define where he is and captures a smooth bit of action. There’s a lot of energy that follow on the next two pages and I’m hoping that Goetten returns to this book to do more work with this element. The Black Knight’s introduction is equally impressive with her being surrounded by some terrifically designed foes. Poe’s actions on the page that follows this are really awesome, with there being a lot of blood spilled and flying about. I’m surprised that the diminutive hero is so clean after so much violence. The battle in the library is neat, with Zodiac again being really impressive. I like that Goetten is using thin diagonal panels to make the action frantic. The design of the large ally that comes to protect Skye is great and, again, I really want Goetten to return to illustrating this individual in the future. The dwelling that’s revealed on Page 19 is iconic and looks terrific; I practically jumped out of my chair in joy when it was shown. The final panel that it appears in has me hungry for more of this building. The last two pages show what one Knight has been busy with and leaves me eager to see more. Bravo, Mr. Goetten. Bravo! Overall grade: A

The colors: Making the art pop off the page are the colors by Jorge Cortes. I cannot say enough about how well Cortes does reflective surfaces. Zodiac is an early example of this as his metallic costume glistens superbly in the light. I also like how Cortes can direct the eye with his colors: note how the reflective surfaces on Zodiac catches the eye in the third panel on the first page, but quickly moves down to the brighter colors that Skye is wearing. The blues used in Merlin’s magical scenes are powerful and believable. The Black Knight’s first panel is stunning for the outstanding colors, with the villains being a delight and the background lovely. The blood that Puck spills stands out in every panel it spurts. I also like the reds and yellows for the flames that Skye conjures. One of the members of the newly created army gets some really cool colors that increase the element it’s created from. Just a superior job throughout. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is the letterer of the book, creating scene settings, narration, dialogue, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings are really cool, with even the sub-scene settings looking neat. I continually applaud Esposito for using a different font for the narration and dialogue, which most letterers seem remiss to do. There aren’t any sounds during the Black Knight and Puck’s fight, which isn’t Esposito’s omission, but Brusha really should have had some during this sequence of panels. There are lots of sounds in the library battle and they look terrific. Overall grade: A 

The final line: There’s so much going on it’s impressive that the story progresses so smoothy. I would have expected a character to have been left out of this installment, but everyone has something to do and all of it’s entertaining. The visuals are flat out awesomeness and I need to see Goetten doing more interiors for Zenescope. More please, Zenescope! 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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