In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #25

Merlin makes his move to claim the power of the Grail.

The covers: Ten different covers to collect for this epic issue. The A cover is by Caanan White and Ivan Nunes and has Skye taking her recently acquired sword and stabbing it into the ground at Camelot. The familiar pink energy that her weapon exudes explodes around her, causing her hair to billow. She looks incredible, as does the setting, and the colors are terrific. This is an awesome cover. Skye is swinging her blade at the plant creatures that were created in a previous issue. She looks great as she avoids the vines, teeth, and tendrils of these green creatures. I’m really impressed with the design of the creatures, which go beyond the typical “evil trees” that are shown in most books. They are nightmarish and massive. Great coloring on these as well, with the details in each monster wonderful. An excellent job on this B cover by Harvey Tolibao and Nunes. The first “Good Girl” cover is the C by Mike Krome and Hedwin Zaldivar. This has a voluptuous woman dressed as Snow White in the woods. She has a small red bird perched on one of her fingers as her other hand strokes the back of her neck. Her clothing doesn’t cover her belly and her yellow skirt is riding up to reveal a bit of bare leg and all of her white stockings. She’s surrounded by several animals (squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and deer) as she sits in the forest. This looks great and Zaldivar does a bang up job on the colors, especially with the sunlight that makes its way through the trees. The Black Knight takes the spotlight on the D cover by Anthony Spay and Grostieta. She’s walking a drawbridge out of a castle toward the reader. She holds her massive sword in her right hand and her hair billows out like her cape. She is beautiful and strong. Her hair is great! Excellent colors on this with her hair and reflective armor looking outstanding. The E hails from Jay Anacleto and Ula Mos has evil Baba Yaga take center stage on the E. The villainess looks fantastic as she uses her magic to power up her hands which are creating spiraling circles of blue energy. Her cape and hair are thrown back by the energy she’s creating and she’s hunched over before she hurls work at an unseen foe. This is outstanding in every possible way, with the setting also exceptional. This is one to track down! F and G are Connecting covers by Igor Vitorino and Nunes. There’s so much going on each cover they stand strongly on their own, but when combined are tremendous. The characters are incredibly detailed and the debris and magic flying about is outstanding. The only difference between the pair is that the F comes across as very dark with greens and browns, while the G is much brighter. The second “Good Girl” cover is the H, also by Krome and Zaldivar. It’s the exact same image as the C cover, but features Snow wearing fewer clothes: She has on a black bra and matching panties, along with red shoes. That’s it. Very attractive imagery. There are also two exclusive covers, but I couldn’t find images of them. They are the Zenescope Exclusive (limited to 750 copies) by Geebo Bigonte and Nunes and the Zenescope Excluisve (limited to 100) by Keith Garvey. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A+, B A, C A, D A, E A+, F B, G A-, and H A+

The story: This is the payoff that this series has been building toward since its inception: The War of the Grail has begun. Joe Brusha begins at the Order of the Tarot as Mordred, it’s skull faced leader, tells the throng that that time has come that they will no longer have to hide in their realms. “Now, you will rule them.” He asks if anyone openly questions his authority and there is one who comes forward. Then another says that they oppose him and that’s when everything goes poorly for the Order. A familiar group enters on Page 7 and adds to the chaos, causing members to leave and hope for certain factions to be victorious. The big bad of the series arrives on 10, engaging Mordred in quick combat. The winner is never in doubt, for the battle serves to introduce the reader to the heroes who have gathered at Arcane Acre to battle them. There’s a quick appearance by a neat character on 15, that leads to a hero roll call on 17 and 18 before the big fight. This is it! Heroes and villains clash, with a solid reveal on Page 27. Just as it seems the heroes have got things well in hand, a massive event occurs on 30. That was an event I had not expected to see. The final two pages deal with action occurring at a surprise location. There was a lot of action in this story, several surprises, and it’s not over yet! To be continued! Overall grade: A

The art: The opening page is a full-paged splash by artist Deivis Goetten showing Mordred sitting upon his throne, speaking to the Order. He looks fantastic. This is a terrific image to begin this issue. Goetten then pulls back from this imposing figure to focus on the others in attendance. The first panel on Page 2 is too dark and no one can be seen. The second panel’s point of view is so far from the reader the characters cannot be made out. Better is the third panel where individuals can be discerned. The figure focused upon for the top of Page 3 is good, and the close-up of the new Morgan le Fay under that is sensational. The turn of the head at the top of 4 is very dramatic and the transformation that follows it is epic. The entrances on 7 are solid and I like that Baba Yaga is the first to spill blood. The bottom panel on the page shows the forces before they engage and it’s a necessary shot to show where they are in relationship to each other, but it’s so dark much of the art is lost. That happens often on these pages involving the Order: some decent action scenes are too dark to see anything. Better is the battle between Mordred and his opponent, which has Goetten creating some literal magic on the page. The first panel on 13 has too much space wasted on an empty ceiling, as if Goetten was expecting there to be more dialogue in the scene. The character that appears fleetingly on 15 looks great and I hope that Goetten gets to do more with him at a later date. The hero roll call page, which is a partial double-page splash, looks spectacular. This is exactly what the reader wants to see when the protagonists make the scene. The characters spar and they look great. If the rest of the book had focused on the battling I would have been a happy camper. The reveal on 27 contains no text for the visual beautifully captures what’s occurring and what it means. Pages 29 and 30 are epic, delivering an absolutely smashing visual experience! I like the partial double-paged splash that ends the issue, though, again, there’s too much space devoted to an empty area, the sky. Lots to like in this issue, though there are moments that have me scratching my head. Overall grade: B-

The colors: As I stated in the art review, the colors are too dark in several panels, making the artwork completely incomprehensible. Jorge Cortes is a colorist whose work I’ve enjoyed on many books, so I can’t understand why things got so dark in this issue. Granted, the opening of the issue should be dark since it involves the Order of the Tarot, but Mordred looks fantastic. Every element of him and the background can easily be made out. The second page’s first panel is just pointless due to it being so dark. Morgan and her snake look outstanding when they appear. What the heck is going on with Page 10? It is almost entirely too dark. When blue magic is employed on the next two pages the visuals look better. The heroes on 17 and 18 look outstanding: even though it’s night, everyone is bright and easy to see. The reds and oranges on 22 are sensational. Excellent blues and whites return on 26, culminating in some slick golds on 27. The work done with the smoke on 28 is also tops. The last two pages return to dark colors that render the art difficult to make out. What happened with this issue’s colors? Overall grade: C-

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is the issue’s letterer, creating Mordred’s unique speech, dialogue, editorial notes, character identifications, sounds, scene settings, and yells. The leader of the Order stands apart from the others not only for his frightening visage but the look of his dialogue, giving him a very supernatural vibe. The editorial notes are in a font that’s italicized and smaller than dialogue, so the reader knows that this is an aside to them. The character identifications are zippy, being in a blocky and slanted font. The sounds are big, but the biggest action that ends the issue contains no sound. What?! Creating this sound effect isn’t Esposito’s decision, but I was disappointed not seeing his work accompanying the epic event. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is THE payoff — Merlin makes his move to claim the power of the Grail. The opening deals with the villains of this series, while the second half has the heroes springing into action. The characters are terrific, with both villains and heroes being engaging, and action epic, with this absolutely being the right word for the climax. Unfortunately there are several panels and pages that are just too dark to make out what’s occurring, leaving the reader straining to see the action. Great story, but disappointing visuals. 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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