In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #4

Skye's adventures continue to be entertaining.

The covers: There are nine different covers for this fourth issue. The A cover is by Sean Chen and Ula Mos. This cover shows Skye in her traditional garb in a swamp, facing down several frogs before her that are sitting on lily pads. If only she would look behind her she would see a monstrous amphibian that’s opened its mouth to reveal several sharp teeth. Excellent layout on this and the coloring really assists the art by slightly obscuring the danger behind her. This was the cover I picked up. Alfredo Reyes and Vinicius Andrade do an amazing job on the B cover. This shows Skye in a classroom, dressed traditionally and wielding her sword, while a gigantic frog creature stuck on the wall before her, with its enormous purple colored tongue wrapped around her blade. The art is beautiful, and gross, and the colors are sensational. I also have to applaud both artists for where they signed their names; as a high school teacher, I found that very funny. The C is by Renato Rei and Wes Hartman. The Prom Queen, recently crowned, is puckering up to give the frog she holds her palm a smooch. I’ve never seen a frog maddog someone before, but this frog is doing that to this Queen. Good composition with the Queen receiving the focus. The colors are really well done, with each light putting the right highlights on both characters. Having the characters on top of a violet background really brings out the greens. As good as this is, there’s no real monster, no Skye, and nothing magical. I’d prefer to see at least one of these on the cover. The D is by Harvey Tolibao and Hedwin Zaldivar. Now this is a horror brought to life! A demonic looking frog is on top of school bus, a football helmet in one of its forearms. Given the bent girders behind it, one could assume it launched the vehicle off a bridge. The line work on this beast is sensational and the coloring superior. If a reader wants a horror cover, this is the one to pick up! There are three WonderCon Exclusives: one by Elias Chatzoudis (limited to 250 copies) and two by Ale Garza and Ula Mos (limited to 500 and 100 copies, respectively). I was unable to find any images of these online, so good luck chasing them down, collectors! There’s also a Zenescope Exclusive, limited to 100 copies, by Jamie Tyndall and Sanju Nivangune. Again, I could find no image of this. I was successful in finding Sabine Rich’s cover for the Wizard World Cleveland Exclusive, limited to 250 copies. This is another postercard-like cover, with Hellchild herself on a sailboat, wearing a black bikini and spiked choker, with the text at the bottom stating “Lake Erie OHIO.” The artwork is good and the coloring excellent. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C B+, D A+, and Wizard World Cleveland Exclusive A

The story: Conceived by Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, with the latter writing it, “The Princess and the Frog” begins in Lee State Park, South Carolina. A couple is necking in a car until one of their friends knocks on the window, telling them that several students are going to go up in the woods to drink beer. The girl says this sound fun and the boy agrees to go. No one is seen or heard on the dark path. Something rears up behind them and a gigantic tongue wraps around the girl’s waist and she’s pulled away from the boy. The unseen creature then appears to the boy’s side, its giant tongue wraps around the boy’s head. The scene then moves to the Elite Gym in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania. Skye’s workout is interrupted by a guy hitting on her. As she leaves she gets a call from Shang about a lizard man. After a briefing from her mentor, Skye opens the book and is transported to Bishopville High School where she’s to be a substitute teacher. There’s a lot of investigating in this story and not much action. The setting of a high school provides opportunites for every possible cliche character to be introduced, and they are: the loner, the bully, the bully’s gang, and the overly friendly teacher. There’s not much depth to any of these characters. A little better is how the Frog Curse was released; that was plausible. A classic scene from Carrie is reenacted in the book’s climax, revealing who bears the Frog Curse and that was a nice surprise. There’s some good action once it occurs and a good epilogue. Though the characters seem rote, Brusha and Tedesco make enough changes to create a story that’s worthy of being in Grimm Fairy Tales. Overall grade: B

The art: Ario Murti does a strong job on this book. Cars are often the bugaboo of artists, but the first page shows that Murti has no problem creating a car from two different viewpoints. The character work on the two teens is also good: take a look at that last panel on Page 1 and the fearful girl on 2. There’s also a really nice tease of the monster on 3, but not enough is shown to confirm that is a giant frog or lizard, save the enormous tongue that captures its young victims. Skye’s introduction shows her as beautiful and not one to take lightly as she punches at a bag. I appreciated the fine details in her, such as her earbuds as she’s listening to music while working out. Shang’s office is also full of details with a well stocked bookcase surrounding him and Skye. Murti also does a good job in making the characters look different from one another, allowing the reader to quickly recognize who’s speaking after they are introduced. The silhouette on 9 is an excellent way to keep a character’s identity momentarily secreted. The forest settings look particularly good, including the interiors of the high schools, though the background in the third panel on 15 is so blurry it looks like an out of focus picture. The creature revealed on 18 looks terrific; there was a lot of build up to this moment and Murti makes it pay off handsomely. Skye’s magical blasts look great, with 22 and 23 having some super energy and smoke work. If Murti were to illustrate any book, I’d be a happy reader. Overall grade: A

The colors: The opening page uses colors to set the time as night, but doesn’t make things so dark to hurt the visuals. Ivan Nunes knows exactly how to color a book. Look at the cool lighting in the final panel of the first page, with the light falling so naturally on the boy. When the creature’s tongue appears it’s not just one color, but ribbed with white to give it depth, and making it particularly nasty. Skye’s hair is exceptional on every page, with the highlights in hair making every strand noticeable. The energy that the protagonist employs contains many different shades of pink, a color not often used for magical creations, but it looks superb. When the monster appears it has a terrific green skin, composed of several shades to make it look almost three dimensional. Nunes puts another feather in his cap with this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue, screams, yells, signage, phone text, and the tease for next month’s issue are crafted by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studio. The screams come in several different varieties and each perfectly shows the degree with which a character is bellowing, with Page 3 showing two different examples. I like that when the creature reveals itself there are yells on the page that don’t have dialogue balloons, making it seem like the page isn’t large enough for their screams. When Esposito does a book, a reader can be sure that the text will be a match for the art. Overall grade: A

The final line: Super art and some slick surprises make this a book worth hopping up and down about. The characters seem like cliches, but surprises along the way show a reader that they’ve fallen into the writers’ trap. Skye’s adventures continue to be entertaining. 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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