In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #31

A smart and exciting conclusion to Skye's journey through Oz.

The covers: A lucky seven frontpieces to collect for Skye’s final issue set in Oz. The A cover by Michael Sta. Maria and Ivan Nunes has a powerful and slightly smiling Skye looking at the reader. She holds the magical shield in her left hand and her sword down low, awash in violet flame. She looks great with hair swirling about her head as she stands on a cliff that features a detailed castle behind her. The reader is looking slightly down at her creating a cool vertigo effect. Ian Richardson and Hedwin Zaldivar do the B which has Skye standing in a forest, holding her sword out in her right hand, standing over the body of a felled foe. Unfortunately she’s surrounded by several violet colored friends of the fallen warrior and they want to take her down. Great visuals on this, which teases a scene from this issue, and the colors are outstanding. Notice how Skye is colored strongly and the warriors seem to overpower her with their darker colors. And check out the cool sunlight coming through the trees at the top. I don’t know if I would call the C cover by Antonio Bifulco and Ula Mos the “Good Girl” cover, but I would definitely call it a striking image. The Queen of the Skarabs is sitting on her long red cape and looking at the reader. The background is an emerald which makes her blue skin pop. She’s gorgeous and this has me wanting to see more of her. The final regular cover is the D by Josh George and Vinicius Andrade. This cover will certainly get anyone’s attention: Skye is tied up leaning over a tree stump in a forest. In the foreground a man is holding an ax, and in the background several orc-like violet men watch as she’s about to be beheaded. Great tone and a solid tease as to what readers will discover on the first page. I love when covers tease the contents of the first page. As always, there are Exclusive covers, and, as always, I couldn’t find images of them online. They include an In-Store Exclusive (limited to 100) by Sun Khamunaki, the New York Comic Con ZENBOX Cosplay Exclusive (150), and the New York Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (100) by Sabine Rich. I would have loved to see what Rich created for this book. Good luck collectors! Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, and D A

The story: The Queen of the Skarabs says to her executioner, “Prepare to remove that one’s head.” The monster of a man raises a huge ax above his head to bring down upon Skye’s neck who’s placed her head atop a tree stump. Her miniature friend Edith can only look on in grief since another of the monstrous men has her held to the ground. Syke thinks to herself, ‘Oh. This isn’t good.’ Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini, with Mr. Franchini writing this issue, then go to the recent past before the pair of protagonists found themselves in this perilous situation. Walking down the Yellow Brick Road to rescue Edith’s husband Erol, a tree falls and blocks their path. Another falls and they run from the iconic path into the woods where they discover they’ve been led into a dead end. They turn to find eight giant sized men, Skarabs, looking at them like fresh meat. Each man has a giant sword or spear. One of the giants has something tucked into his armor strap that Edith recognizes as Erol’s. Skye and Edith lower their weapons asking to be taken to their leader. The story returns to the present with the beheading about to occur. Skye says something that makes the Queen reconsider her death, but in doing so she puts herself and Edith at greater risk. This was a very smart story; when was the last time you saw heroes surrendering to the minions so they could get to the antagonist? I liked who appeared on Page 8, putting some solid emotion payoff into the tale. Revealing this individual also was the moment Skye needed to go into action and it’s been a while since she’s done so. I loved how Page 10 went so easy for her, until the reveal on 11 which had me echoing Skye’s sentiment. What follows is a great, smart battle, ending in a fantastic climax on 16. You can’t tell me that you say that coming! Another good surprise was the first panel on 18; this is sure to be an important plot point as Skye continues her journey to save Shang. There’s a new character introduced at the end of this tale who’s joined the hero and why do I have the feeling he shouldn’t be trusted. This was a very fun read with several solid surprises. Overall grade: A

The art: Eman Casallos does a good job with this issue’s artwork. The book opens with a massive panel, practically a full-paged splash, showing the surprising situation Skye is in. The main antagonist is seen, with some unexpected prizes, Edith is held prisoner, and Skye is about to be beheaded. There’s a small panel in the lower right that shows Skye’s surprise at her situation; I do wish that her entire face had been shown to make a greater impact with her thoughts, plus Casallos does an excellent job on her close-ups. The pull in to the protagonists on the second page is good, with the focus on Edith, establishing her personality. The tree fall at the bottom of 3 is good and I want to thank all the creators for not making that computer blurred, which is the scourge of comics of late. Skye’s face on the second panel of the next page tells the reader all they need to know about what’s coming. The Skarabs on 5 are good, with each an individual, rather than a cookie-cuter minion. My hat is off to Casallos for that. I like the many points of view on 6, but the third panel on 7 has a lot of empty space; I have no idea how Casallos could have done it differently given the distance between the characters who are speaking. I don’t like how the key character on 8 isn’t clearly seen — I understood who that was, but I needed to see this person for payoff that began in the previous issue. I love the circular panel on 9 and the action that starts at the bottom. The yell that ends the page is great. Page 11 is almost a full-paged splash and Casallos makes it incredibly powerful, as it should be. I like the second and third panels on 13 that feature close-ups of the two combatants. The final panel on this page has the action too distant from the reader, lessening the impact. I like how the fight on the next two pages is easy to follow, but it’s occurring too far from the reader. I needed some close-ups to feel the impact of each swing and kick. The last panel on the next page is shocking and graphic, but if the image was closer to the reader it would have been much more intense. The final page is a true full-paged splash that is an excellent tease of where Skye is headed next. I liked the art, but wanted to be closer to the action. Overall grade: B+ 

The colors: The primary setting of this issue is fairly dark, as shown on the first page. Jorge Cortes colors characters and actions bright enough so that none of them, or other elements of the art, fade into the backgrounds. I like the orange border around the small panel in the lower right on the opening page that serves as a bright hallmark for the hero. The Yellow Brick Road stands out nicely and when it’s left the visuals become dark, as does the story’s tone. Very slick storytelling through colors. Making the skin of the villains and their queen violet is a good fantasy color which allows them to be exotic and stand out on the page. The green behind Skye on 7 makes her pop. The colors on the circular panel make this individual’s power strong. The coloring on 11 truly makes one character horribly omnipotent. I like that when swords clash their contact is given yellows and oranges. The reds for the sound on 14 is perfect. Notice that when the battle is over the backgrounds become lighter and turn green, as if nature agrees with the new power structure. Smart storytelling through colors. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, narration, yells, sounds, and the tease for next issue are brought to life by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. I always enjoy the zippy scene settings from Esposito that are slightly tilted to smoothly bring the reader into the panels. The narration from Skye is in italics to show the reader that this text is different from dialogue. The yells are in many different sizes and fonts so each can be heard at a different volume by the reader. The sounds, always a strong element of Esposito’s repertoire, are great. The trees falling make massive sounds and the sounds of the battle are perfect. Heck, even the tease for next issue looks like it comes from the land that Skye is going to. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A smart and exciting conclusion to Skye’s journey through Oz. Clever storytelling has Skye encountering and creating several surprises. The visuals are good, though I do wish the reader had been closer to the action. The colors and letters are the cherries on top of this tale. This book is consistently superior. 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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