In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales #6

This is the first issue of this series I can't rave about. Just adequate.

The covers: Conventions are in full swing as evidenced by the ten (!) different covers available for this book. Jose Luis and Grostieta are responsible for the A cover, featuring Skye Mathews with her back to an alley wall, surrounded by several rats. Even with her sword out, she’s sure to be overwhelmed by the number of vermin. This is a good idea for a cover, but the rats aren’t numerous on the ground, or close enough to her. They’re lost in the detailed setting. The only way they could stand out on this cover is if their coloring was much brighter. The B is by Renato Rei and Sanju Nivangune. This is a terrific cover with Skye in an alley, her sword held high, and ally Robyn Hood in the foreground with an arrow nocked for action. This is excellent artwork with sensational coloring, with the light in the sky exceptional. This cover is a winner. Next up is the C by Meguro, which is the cover I chose to accompany this review. It’s a bust shot of Skye with her sword held above her head, energy crackling off the blade. This is a gorgeous cover and is print or poster worthy. The villainous Piper appears on the D by Netho Diaz and Mohan Sivakami. Sitting on a mound of skulls, resembling a demented throne, the Piper plays a tune to the rat on his knee and the others that moving about the bones. Creepy image that summarizes this character well. The background behind the character, as well as the smoke, does not look as good as he and the foreground elements do. The Phoenix Postcard Exclusive Variant, available at this year’s Phoenix Comicon (limited to 250 copies), is illustrated by Michael Dooney and colored by Ula Mos. This has a beautiful blonde wearing a skimpy leopard bikini making her way through the Grand Canyon on a neon yellow boogie board with matching oar. I don’t know who this character is on this postcard, but she looks amazing! The MegaCon Postcard Exclusive, available at this year’s MegaCon (limited to 250 copies), has Belle creating some topiary that resembles the Beast from the Disney film. In fact, the Sleeping Beauty Castle can be seen in the background. Good artwork by Elias Chatzoudis, but the light source is behind the woman, creating some odd shines on her gloves and lower dress, and leaving me wondering why the bottom of the image is in blues. Odd coloring on this. There’s another MegaCon Postcard Excluisve (limited to only 100 copies) that features the same character and background from the same artistic duo, though now Belle is only wearing gloves, bra, panties, stockings, and heels. Again, the artwork is outstanding, but the coloring is off. There’s a Wizard World Philly Postcard Exclusive (limited to 250 copies) by illustrated by Mike DeBalfo and colored by Ula Mos. I couldn’t find an image of this online. The Five Points Festival Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) has Jamie Tyndall making Cinderella dress similarly to Harley Quinn, though she’s got a lot more weapons. Cindy is in profile, bending low at the waist before a maniacal looking Jack in the Box, which has a teddy bear dressed as Batman leaning against it. The illustration has highly detailed and the coloring, by Mos, especially that light violet background, is gorgeous. The final variant is a Secret Retailer Cosplay Exclusive with artwork by Chatzoudis, but I couldn’t find an image of it online, so good luck tracking that one down! Overall grades: A B, B A+, C A+, D B-, Phoenix Postcard Exclusive A, MegaCon Postcard Exclusive (250) B-, Megacon Postcard Exclusive (100) B+, Five Points Festival Exclusive A

The story: Little Jeremy Scott is bouncing a ball on an alley wall before dinner when he hears music playing. He drops the ball and walks zombie-like to another alley. One without much light. As though waking from a slumber, he wonders aloud how he got to this place. Several squeaks emit before, followed by several pairs of beady red eyes, including a large pair up high. The rats begin to swarm around him and when he yells at the creatures a roar resounds in the passageway. A gigantic humanoid rat emerges from the darkness and little Jeremy screams. An hour later, darkness has fallen over the city, but Robyn Hood can still observe the police outside the alley. She thinks to herself, ‘When a child disappears the first 24 hours are critical. It’s already been an hour.’ She bolts across the building. ‘Time to act while the trail is still fresh.’ This issue, written by Joe Brusha, serves as Skye’s introduction to Zenescope foe the Piper. It’s a good way to reintroduce the villain to the audience and to see how new hero Skye deals with him. Their meeting on Page 9 is nice, with the antagonist’s dialogue good. Their first fight goes well for the villain and allows Robyn to enter the battle for a team-up with Skye. I was extremely appreciative that Brusha wrote the transition on the top of 14, since that information isn’t necessary for the reader. The pairing of Skye with Robyn is a good one since Locksley is the veteran hero who is more than willing to kill and Mathers is the freshman who isn’t as cold blooded. Their dialogue is good, with funny lines of separation on 15. Each fights an appropriate foe, with Robyn getting more focus than Skye. There’s a two sentence explanation how her battle resolved with either antagonist, but it would have been much rewarding to see, rather than hear. This was disappointing as this is her title and the action could have been split between the heroes. The ending is decent, with the resolution having a smile worthy conclusion. This was good, but there wasn’t enough Skye in the climax. Overall grade: B- 

The art: The visuals from Julius Abrera begin with a terrific introductory panel of Jeremy’s neighborhood. The architecture on the building is excellent, the cars for scale good, and, if you look between the structures, Jeremy can be seen playing. The brick work in the second panel is mismatched, with the wall in the foreground looking fine, but the one that Jeremy is throwing his ball against unrealistic in comparison. The close up of Jeremy hearing the music is well done and his disappearance into darkness excellent. His arrival in the new location is good and the third page’s reveal of the creature outstanding. Robyn’s first appearance is cut from the heroic mold perfectly, but the setting around her looks very simplistic. The second panel on the fourth page has a lot of wasted space to show where she is, but Abrera makes up for his with a solid close up of the character. The Times Square establishment panel is also loosely rendered, as is the first panel with the trio of women. Things improve when Abrera brings the reader in closer to the characters, and the close-up of Jasmine is good. That happens often in this issue: the settings don’t have very tight pencils, but the characters do. This leads to a jumbled visual read. The Piper, granted, is supposed to be ghostly and frightening, comes off rather stiff looking in every appearance. Plus, his collar is too high for him to get his lips on that musical instrument. The location that the heroes get to on 15 looks great, and inside looks just as good, but Abrera is again wasting space, such as in the third panel on 16: the readers don’t need to see that much of the table or have that much vacant behind the Piper. The chief antagonist goes through a variety of inconsistent looks. His close-up on 17 is a spectacular visage of corruption, but that is not the same individual anywhere on 21, especially in that first panel. There’s much to enjoy in the visuals, but there are too many inconsistencies, often on the same page, to rave about it. Overall grade: C-

The colors: The coloring on this is also different. There are several pages and panels with soft coloring used to suggest sunset or distant lights. This is obvious on the first page as the sun is setting on Jeremy’s play. It works fine, though the ball in the second and third panels comes across as a coloring error, looking smudged. The creature’s appearance on Page 3 is well done, with Ivan Nunes doing a slick job on the dark beast in the shadows. The colors of Time Square are nicely jarring, but the second panel on 5 looks blurry due to the background colors. The fourth panel on seven has really muted colors, so much so that Skye is blending in with the background. And the lens flares from the cars are distracting. Backgrounds are so lightly colored they stand out for being so soft: Page 10, panel three; 11, panel two; 17, panel three; etc. The lighting in the garage gives everything, but the characters, this fuzzy feeling. This was a mixed job from the usually perfect Nunes. Overall grade: C

The letters: I also usually herald a job well done by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios, but even his job was not up to par. The book has Esposito contributing narration, musical notes, sounds, dialogue, yells, screams, scene settings, and the tease for next issue. I’m again loving the narration being different from the dialogue, and the screams and yells are strong. I have issues with the musical notes the Piper plays. They’re too crisp for such a sinister sound. Plus there’s an outline around each that gives them a jovial feel. A sound is repeated three times in this issue, with the final time being incorrect. When Skye swings her sword twice it makes the same sound. However, when the Piper disappears, under his own ability, he exits with the same sound. This should not have happened. It should have been a different sound and in a different font. These are my only two areas of concern, but they did catch my eye on my first read. Overall grade: B

The final line: This is the first issue of this series I can’t rave about. The story and visuals are adequate, but compared to what’s occurred in the previous five issues, this was a disappointment. Overall grade: C+

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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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