In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #24

Both sides ready for the battle that will occur next month.

The covers: Six is the number of covers one will have to get if he or she is a completist. The A cover is by Edgar Salazar and Ivan Nunes and it’s a WOW! Skye, shown turned three quarters to her left, is standing on a hill with a highly detailed city and castle behind her. She wields her new sword in her right hand and a breeze is casting her long black hair to her left. A trio of dragons fly in the distance in a blue sky. The character is absolutely stunning, her pose perfection, and that background epic. Seriously, WOW! The B hails from Anthony Spay and Hedwin Zaldivar and shows two characters coming from either side of the cover to clash swords. Skye is on the right, her sword exploding with crimson energy. She’s locking blades with a blonde haired woman who’s wearing armor, that still reveals quite a bit. This valkyrie is screaming as her sword crosses with Skye’s. Both characters look good, but I have not a clue who the character on the left is. Behind the pair is a castle, could be Camelot, with a blazing red sunset or sunrise. This looks good, but who’s the baddie? Keeping my questioning going is the C cover by Derlis Santacruz and Sanju Nivangune. This shows the blonde haired foe from about the knees up, considering the reader. She looks fantastic: her costume is cool, her countenance is absolutely fierce, and the background is an explosion of golden beams. This is a gorgeous cover — it is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy, but I have still don’t know who this is! I feel better looking at the D by Igor Vitorino and Nunes because I know this is Merlin and Shang battling each other. The evil wizard in blue has burst through a brick wall to surprise the loyal mage. The angle has been titled slightly by Vitorino to make the entrance more powerful, leaving Shang to look on the defensive. He has a flaming sword in his right hand and his left is up in some type of magical or martial arts defensive pose. There are green lightning bolts accompanying Merlin into the room, as well as several stones flying about. Good action cover. There are two exclusive covers, but, I couldn’t find the first one listed in the checklist anywhere online: the InStore Exclusive (limited to 100 copies) by Elias Chatzoudis. Thankfully I was able to find the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 750) by Geebo Vigonte and Nunes. This spotlights Morgan le Fay against a cosmic swirl of blue and violet. Dark violet curtains flail about the bottom and corners of this piece. In the center is the villainess with her left hand extended toward the reader, a violet glow emanating from within it. Her right hand is held at her side clutching upward. A magical symbol, and eye within several circles floats above it. Very nice. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A, D A, and Zenescope Exclusive A-

The story: This appropriately titled “The Calm Before the Storm” is by Joe Brusha and sets things up before the big battle of next issue. This installment opens at the High Council with Skye, Shang, and Peyton Parks arriving to inform the council of what’s occurring in Camelot. Unfortunately the council can’t help the trio because “we are already spread too thin guarding the realm portals and fighting battles in Neverland and Oz.” Meanwhile in Camelot, Merlin double checks that one of his new knights of the Round Table is up to snuff to battling the humans. Zodiac is then given a mission that will be chronicled in a miniseries due out in February of next year. Back in Camelot, Merlin appears with an oddly sized ally that is the result of The Musketeers limited series. He decides to call in a favor with an ally that sits in the Order of Tarot. Back on Earth, Skye meets up with a hero to ask for her help in the upcoming battle with Camelot. Six other Zenescope heroes are recruited and all are told what they are fighting for. The book ends in Camelot with one character making a transformation that will look very familiar to fans. This was an okay issue, but only serves to put the players in place to start the fracas for next issue. Enjoyable, but not stellar. Overall grade: B

The art: Leo Rodrigues is a really strong artist. The opening panel instantly told me that this was going to be a good looking issue; it’s an establishment shot in the Myst in a graveyard. Rodrigues moves to a statue outside a crypt and then moves into the opening to show the arrival of Skye, Peyton, and Shang. The characters look fantastic. I love how he introduces the three from a distance and then moves in close in the bottom panel to show the trio clearly. The second page is practically a full-paged splash, with the exception of a small vertical panel. The large panel shows a pair of the massive statues that guard their path, ending with a great close-up on Peyton who’s surprised at what she’s seeing. The council members of the High Council also look good, Nysa being a particular stand out. Even in small panels, such as the bottom of Page 5, the characters look outstanding. The monsters that populate Page 6 look terrific. They look as though they could never be defeated, but a turn of the page graphically shows that’s not true. The entrance on 13 is good and the returning supporting cast member also looks good. The transition between 14 and 15 is outstanding, with that top image on the latter being super. I love the close-ups of the big bad on the same page, plus the individual sharing space with him is equally impressive. The large panel on 17 is awesome! I love this character and am always happy to see her in action. Page 21 has a solid tender moment that needs no text to communicate the emotion. The final page has a great reveal and I’m dying to see this character in action. By all means, Zenescope, get Rodrigues to do more work! Overall grade: A

The colors: As with the art, when I saw the colors on this issue I knew that Jorge Cortes was going to do a good job. The work that Cortes does in making the statues look appropriately stone-like is well done with several different shades of gray. The bubble that transports the trio is magically blue. The same blues are repeated in the large panel on Page 2 for the sky. The close-up of Peyton on the same page has some excellent work done with her skin. Nissa’s skin is an inhuman light blue, and the shading on her is also strong. The colors on Skye at the bottom of 3 are terrific. That’s some strong work with reds on 7, with the sound being a really bright shade of crimson. The oranges for flames on 11 also look good. I also like the highlights on Merlin’s robe throughout the book, with neat highlights. The work done on the pair of male characters on 15 and 16. The spectral character on the following two pages is just so darned cool! The book ends with a lot of greens used and they will leave the reader feeling unsettled at what has occurred. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is responsible for the text of this issue which includes narration, character identifiers, dialogue, Nissa’s speech, scene settings, sounds, the unique font for a villain on Pages 15 and 16, and the tease for next issue. I really like the character identifiers which are used for the heroes: it’s big, bold, and matches the strength of the individuals being identified. Nissa’s speech is smaller than that of the other heroes, which makes it stand out as a quieter voice; such a neat visual way to further separate the character from “normal” humans. The same can also be said of the character on 15 and 16. The scene settings look cool and the sounds are massive. Esposito is also making gold on this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Both sides ready for the battle that will occur next month. The visuals are killer in this issue, though the story goes where one would expect, though it needs to have the characters do these things in preparation. This issue does its job in getting the reader hyped for next month! 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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