In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales presents Wonderland #35

The final page hurts the issue, as does average art.

The covers: Four covers to drive you mad as you seek them out. The A cover is by Mike Krome and it has Kalie atop some type of structure that looks like it’s part of dragon. Her hair seductively swirls about her head as she looks coyly at readers. She looks attractive and the coloring on her is really well done; I especially like how the dragon scales show weathering individually. You’d notice too, if you were looking at the background. The B is by Vinz El Tabanas and it has the White Queen being awoken by several pixie-like creatures. These creatures play a major part in this issue’s story, but nothing in this image spoils what they do. The emotion on Calie’s face is good and the swarm of the creatures around is good, with coloring, again, making the imagery pop. Cris Delara does a very seductive Calie at night, her body turned slightly to show readers what she’s holding in her right hand, a pixie. Big hair on the lead makes this look like a pin-up from the sixties, and the coloring is super with violets highlighting important elements. There’s also a Denver Comic Con Exclusive by Nei Ruffino that’s limited to 250 copies. Anything illustrated by Ruffino is worth tracking down and this one will stop collectors in their tracks. A well developed red head is climbing up the side of a mountain, wearing next to nothing. I’m completely biased when it comes to Ruffino’s work, but I think this will make anyone join her fan club. Beautiful! Overall grades: A A, B B+, C B, and Denver Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: A funny, though honest, one page flashback opens this issue written by Erica J. Heflin. Calie remembers a bunch of nerds in high school that would hang out in the halls, ‘They hunkered down in a corner with their stacks of books, dice, and some occasional cards. I think I might be living out their wet dreams.’ This memory ends with the Cheshire Cat says, “This is no temple, Calie Liddle. It is a mausoleum.” The next two pages show the aftermath of a major battle, and within the structure the cat is before is the en passant, “a relic that will force the Terror to take on physical form…so that he may be killed.” Calie wants him killed, as does the mute Squire, the only surviving Realm Knight of Wonderland. The story then moves to soldier, watching the tavern from last issue burn. She leaves the ruins to assist Calie. Naturally Calie and Cheshire can’t just walk in and get the relic, someone in there is obstructing their way and one of them will have to fight that individual while the other finds the en passant. I really like Calie’s narration during these sequences. There’s no reason for her speak aloud, and readers are lost with her thoughts as she makes her way forward. The scenes with the pixies are good, but the ending had me completely lost. The final page was missing a transition of some kind because I do not know where that final human came from. I was really enjoying the book until that final panel. I’ll be back next month, to be sure, but something left me lost in Wonderland. Overall grade: B

The art: The visuals by Manuel Preitano are very tight on Calie. I like the way she looks and when she’s in action, she’s great. Also looking good is the Squire, though she’s more roughly drawn than the White Queen. Everything else in this book is very sketchy. The “mausoleum” Cheshire stands before on Page 3 is really a loose suggestion of a structure. The coloring gives it more definition than the pencils actually provide. This repeats at the bottom of Page 4. If looked at individually, no one would have known what that object was in the center of the panel. The line work is very thick on the characters on Pages 7 – 9, so much so that they come off rushed. There’s not much in the way of backgrounds, so time could have been taken. The setting with the statues is very loose. Preitano does much better work when using a finer line, as those with a thicker line–and there are several–just don’t hold up. Overall grade: C

The colors: Doing a lot of good work on this issue is colorist Leonardo Paciarotti. The double-paged spread has him using a nice purple and red effect to communicate darkness and the remains of an ancient battle, with a blood splatter technique to hammer that last quality home. Red and green are used extensively for backgrounds to create danger and a forest setting. Characters’ flesh is excellently colored to give them a sense of dimension that the art does not. I also like how the colors bleed off the page. This doesn’t happen in many books often, but every page is a full color bleed and it looks good, especially the dark teal used on the final pages for night. Overall grade: A

The letters: Christy Sawyer creates narration, dialogue, Cheshire speak, the character’s dialogue that begins on Page 7, sounds, and the last character’s unique dialogue font. I’m always appreciative of letterers that vary fonts among characters that aren’t human, and Sawyer is doing an excellent job with this. Overall grade: A

The final line: The final page hurts the issue, as does average art. Still, I’ve enjoyed this series for some time, and will back 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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