In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #32

The story has some fun trouble in Neverland, but the art doesn't rise to the occasion.

The covers: Ten covers to collect on this trip to Neverland. The A cover is by Martin Coccolo and Ivan Nunes. This has Skye standing in the jungle with beautiful mountains behind her that showcase an inlet of the ocean. The foliage is colored darkly, as is Skye, however her sword is aflame with pink energy that ripples around her right arm and illuminates her. She looks great, especially with her hair whipping up behind her. The background is fantastic, making anyone want to go there. Very nice. The B cover comes courtesy of Riveiro and Ceci de la Cruz and it also looks good. Skye is in the foreground leaning to the left holding her sword over her right shoulder. Behind her is Belle with her back to the reader, but turning to face them with her sword held high. They are on a green cliff looking down upon a similar setting from the A cover. Great details in the art with the plants, the characters, and the setting very intricate. The coloring is also spot on, with every element of the art standing out. I love Belle’s wings. The fairy character gets her own spotlight image on the C cover by Hedwin Zaldivar. The reader is looking up at the flying sprite who has a knee up to show she’s pausing in her flight and she holds her sword down low in her right hand to strike anyone who wishes to do her harm. She is gorgeous and the colors are excellent. The background is night in the jungle and it’s killer. The final cover is the D and Anthony Spay and Nunes spotlight a new character in this book: the individual who created the much sought after armor of King Arthur. The character is in his forge looking at the sword before him that he has just completed. He looks great and the colors in this setting are strong, with the orange glow of iron working illuminating the locale. There are also six Exclusive covers, but I couldn’t find images of them online. They include the Baltimore Comic Con Exclusive (Limited to 250 copies), VIP Exclusive (100), Zenescope Exclusive (50), and the Scorpio Exclusive (350) all featuring covers, I believe, by Elias Chatzoudis. There’s also the Hotflips New York Comic Con Exclusive (100/50) by Eric Basaldua and Ula Mos. Good luck, collectors! Overall grades: A A- B A, C A+, and D 

The story: A vortex is created in Oz and an explosion occurs in the sky. Elsewhere a similar vortex appears that is noticed by the evil Knights of the Round Table. An unseen speaker voices, “Interesting. The time draws near. We must prepare.” In Neverland Skye and Stephen race through the forest pursued by several ebony colored humanoids. Skye blasts the creatures to dust when she can, but there are too many of them. The pair decide to split up to spread the foes out. Once apart, Skye does fine, while Stephen faces unexpected danger from above. This story was created by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Dave Franchini with Franchini writing it out. I like the reveal on Page 10 which leads to the state of Neverland, which, no surprise, is not good. I was impressed how the writers were able to keep Skye’s quest to gather armor to save Chang going while introducing troubles in this classic location. Plus, there’s an explanation of the armor’s origin from the character who created it. There’s a lot of story in this issue, but it’s told so smoothly to make it seem effortless. And look how each page ends in a cliffhanger or declarative statement that compels the reader to turn the page. This is another example of smart storytelling. The issue ends with the lead of the ebony creatures revealed and what his plans are. Skye is going to be in the thick of things next issue and I want to see what happens. Overall grade: A

The art: Cleber Lima does an okay job with this book’s art. It tells the story smoothly, but does come across as angular at times. The first page is good with the two settings and the vortex shown. The Knights look fine on Page 2, but their stances make them a little forced. The introduction of Skye and Stephen in Neverland works, but the two panels that precede them have very angular trees and leaves for the foliage. The design of the antagonists is generic. I do like the close-up of Skye on the fourth page, though her hair looks like it’s composed of dreadlocks rather than strands of hair. The point of view for the final panel on this page is good establishment of how close the baddies are to the heroes, but again, really angular looking. I was slightly confused as to what was happening with Stephen at the end of 6 because the rope isn’t taught. The action in the second panel is smooth on 9. The reveal in the fifth panel on that page is too jarring: I have no clue where this individual is coming from. However, the reveal on 10 is perfect — that’s how a hero enters the story! The reveal on 12 does not have the payoff from the reactions that ended 11; the reader is too far and high from the characters. I like the design of the character that Stephen speaks with. I knew just from his look what his job was — this is good design work. The three page flashback smoothly tells the reader what’s happened, even without reading the text. Lima has to put a lot characters in some very small panels that follow this sequence and he does a solid job on them, without the extras looking like cut and paste copies of the same character. Page 21 introduces the antagonist of the heroes and he’s okay, but has nothing visually to hold onto. The action that ends the page is also difficult to discern: is it smoke, physical tendrils, or something else? I can’t tell. If the reader can’t tell, then there’s no buy-in to the action. The last page is a full-paged splash with the villains on the march. It’s okay, but fairly generic looking. Overall grade: C+  

The colors: Bright blues open this issue for the wonderful skies of Oz and Elsewhere. Jorge Cortes rightfully goes dark for interiors on the second page to allow the colors of the Knights’ armor to stand out. Neverland is full of many greens, as it’s a jungle. Notice how the colors are used to increase the foliage or create lines within the leaves. This color allows Skye and Stephen to take focus whenever they appear because of the colors of their clothes. The entrance on 10 is gorgeous in greens and yellows, with the latter coloring appearing on the previous page to tease this arrival. Smart. It’s a little difficult to find a focus in the crowd shots in the location shown on 11 because everyone’s coloring is similar, even in their clothes. The new character that appears on 12 blends in too much due to his shirt being green. I really like the colors done on the three paged flashback which ages the story appropriately. I also like how one character has green inserted into her dialogue balloons to have her stand out from others. Page 20 is just too dark; it needed to be lightened up so the artwork could be better seen. The last two pages suffer the same fate. I realize the characters are colored black, but there needs to be more variety in them. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios is the book’s letterer creating scene settings, yells, sounds, screams, and the tease for next issue. This is a dialogue heavy issue and Esposito easily inserts his book into the art without covering up important elements in the panel. This is a big deal after the flashback as the panels get smaller and more crowded with characters. The scene settings tilt to the right to lead the reader into the story and are in a puffy, thick font. The sounds are fantastic, from the opening page to the battle scenes. Yells are done in a thicker and larger font that’s used for the dialogue, while screams in a different font altogether. The tease for next issue has Esposito using a fantasy font of lower case letters to remind the reader of where the story will set. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story has some fun trouble in Neverland, but the art doesn’t rise to the occasion. I enjoyed the characters and the origin of the armor that’s been the focus for the last several issues, but found the visuals to be average. I’m definitely back next month, but hoping for the artwork to improve. 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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