In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents The Jungle Book: Fall of the Wild #1

Stronger visuals would have made this a solid A, but what is here is good and has me returning next month.

The covers: I fully admit that it was the A cover by David Finch and Ivan Nunes that got me to pick this book up. This is a drop dead gorgeous cover of Mowgli making her way through the jungle with a knife in each hand. She’s beautiful and the setting and coloring is just as exceptional. Yeah, having covers like this works. The B cover is by Carlos Granda and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. with Baloo doing battle with another bear against a sunset. It’s a good shot of the two bears, but all I could think of was The Golden Compass. Mike Krome and Ula Mos do the C cover with Mowgli slinking her way through the forest accompanied by a wolf. I like this but don’t care for the yellow border on either side of the illustration. The art should be pulled closer to the reader, not distanced. The Retailer Super Rare Variant is by Ale Garza and Wes Hartman showing Mowgli and Akili wading through a jungle stream. Hommina-hommina-hommina. Yeah, that cover is nice, too. Overall grades: A A+, B C+, C B-, D A

The story: This is the final mini-series from Zenoscope wrapping up the previous storylines. I never read any of those books and had no difficulty in following what was going on in this installment. The book opens with two armies of ants fighting one another, closely watched by Mowgli. As she watches them fight, she ignores the elephants and lions battling in the valley below. The young woman reminisces over the loss of her friend Baloo, but the battle comes close to their location, so Bagheera suggests they move lest they be caught up in the battle. Meanwhile, far underground, Baloo is ending a fight with another who challenges his right to lead. He’s been keeping all bears below the surface so they don’t take their violence back to those above. It is having a toll on the old bear, constantly battling his brethren, but he knows of no other way to get them to change their ways. The entire island of Kipling is, always has been, in a state of war and some are tired of it. If only something would stop it and something makes its voice heard to that note on Page 12 and 13. Only one resident of the island knows what is beginning, but it should be obvious to readers what’s coming. Mark L. Miller’s story is the build up of the end, and surprisingly begins this ultimate end on the final page. I’m interested to see how the characters will get out of this situation and how Mowgli fits into their fates. Overall grade: A

The art: Nice work on every page by Michele Bandini. She’s got a lot of different animals to illustrate and most of them do not have human traits. Her human characters, Mowgli, Akili, Dewan, Shere Bomani, and another, look really good. Dewan was my favorite because of his many different stances. Bagheera and Baloo looked really good. I wanted them to look more like animals than in the Disney and film Bandini is very successful with what she’s done. The opening ant fight was very detailed and a nice introduction to the island’s constant conflict. There’s not much background work done when Mowgli is on the page. I don’t know if that’s intentional because she’s often in motion, but it did seem a little odd. Though the jungle setting is well drawn when the apes are on the page. What’s not well done is the double-paged spread on Pages 2 and 3 where the elephants and lions are fighting. It’s just a suggestion of a fight with not a lot of details. It deflated much of the detail of the ant fight; after all, if the ants can look amazing in battle, shouldn’t the elephants and lions be better? Still, I did like the images and look forward to what Bandini is going to do next after the action of the last page. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Bright, bold coloring on this book from Grostieta. I want my jungle adventures to be bright and I got just that. It’s obvious that Grostieta is putting a lot of work into the colors, highlighting many elements of the art to give it an added dimension. For example, look at all the work that went into Pages 2 and 3. There’s a lot of highlighting to give depth to the characters, the clouds of dust, the trees, and the birds. This is really well done. When the apes first appear, their ship is far in the background and Grostieta has rightfully lightened the colors to show how far away it is. This is constantly well done. Additionally, sounds are also colored well to have them pop against the greens of the jungle. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Ant speak, Bagheera speak, dialogue, sounds, Baloo speak, Mang speak, King Louie speak, Kaa talk, and many other animals’ dialogue is created by Matthew Krotzer. I love that each species has their own unique font, but some were a bit difficult to read, such as Louie’s. Still, I wish more letterers did this on their books. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Stronger visuals would have made this a solid A, but what is here is good and has me returning next month. Overall grade: B+

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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