In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales: Tarot #1

Happiness will be in your future if you pick up Tarot.

The covers: The A cover hails from Julius Abrera and Grostieta and it’s quite a powerful piece. I don’t know who either character is on this cover, but they both look strong. A buff, armored man holds a long sword in one hand and a mace in the either and he’s got quite the snarl on his face. Behind him is a huge black lion. They’re standing on broken earth with orange and red smoke behind them, suggesting a fire. Looks good, but I don’t know who they are. Renato Rei and Vinicius Andrade feature the villainous Four on their B cover. They only appear on six pages in this issue, yet this cover establishes them well. One can create fire, another can wield energy, one carries a staff, and the one in the foreground has a wicked knife. All four characters look excellent and I hope to see more of them after this issue. The cover I’m using to accompany this review is the C is by Keith Garvey. This is a gorgeous version of Nataliya standing before a supernaturally themed backdrop. She looks incredible, and not unlike actress Mila Kunis. Her hands are to her side with one hip stuck out cockily. This needs to be a print! A different sort of cover is the D is by Netho Diaz and Grostieta. The Emperor, the leader of the Order of the Tarot, sticks a hand out threateningly to the reader. Behind him is a blaze. Good idea for a cover, but it seems off center because of the position of his head; the hand is the focus and it isn’t hightlighted enough compared to the rest of the image. Decent, but I’ve seen Diaz and Grostieta do much better. The E is by Allan Otero and Grostieta and features the Empress looking grim as she holds a sword behind her back and a scepter in her other hand that’s casting violet energy around her. A good study of this evil character, who is beautiful but an bad to the bone. The Wizard World Chicago Postcard Exclusive (limited to 250) is by Michael Dooney and Ula Mos. Nataliya is dressed as Bonnie Parker, complete with tommy gun standing before a classic car that’s sporting several smoking bullet holes. She looks great, with much of her front barely contained by a light violet top and tight blue vest. She’s got on a black mini, which reveals the garters holding up her stockings. She also has on a floppy brown hat. These Postcard covers have been outstanding all year and this is no exception. Overall grades: A B, B A, C A+, D D+, E B+, and Postcard Exclusive A-

The story: Joe Brusha’s tale opens with a quick, concise introduction on the inside front cover that tells the reader that the Order of the Tarot is ready to take over the Grimm Universe, but only the “wildcard named Talisman” stands in the way of the Emperor. The book begins in the Realm of Oz in the Court of Pentacles. Six cloaked, torch wielding figures enter the empty castle. They stop before two empty thrones in the largest chamber, with the narrator stating that the power of this place will soon be awoken and its king and queen will also soon return. Meanwhile in New Orleans, Talisman is bolting down a street at night. A bolt of energy hits him in the chest and he falls to the ground. “There is no escaping The Four,” says the woman before him with glowing blue hands who is accompanied by three men. The battle is quick and does not go the way Talisman wants. The story then moves to the Emperor’s Court, somewhere on Earth. Within, a character is making a case for Nataliya to help them since she was close to the Talisman. Words are said about her before moving to Wonderland. Brusha is smoothly showing all the realms that the Order is gunning for, revealing elements that could help or hinder their efforts. Someone comes to the Talisman’s aid and their conversation on Page 14 solidifies their partnership. One of my all time favorite characters appears on 15 and 16; I was not expecting to see her and having her in any Zenescope book is something to treasure. Another realm is visited, this time with a magical foe created. The book ends with Talisman and his ally meeting something who might help them, and they might need that character’s assistance sooner than they thought. It’s impressive how the story covers so many locations and so many characters so clearly; it’s easy to follow and creates concern for Talisman’s fate. This is a good opening issue. Overall grade: A

The art: I can’t sing the praises of Renato Rei enough. The first page shows Rei’s ability in creating outstanding settings, as demonstrated by the castle. It’s obviously abandoned due to the plants growing about it, but look at all the stone work done in its walls and floors. The establishment where Talisman and The Four spar is also neatly detailed, with the hero’s exit on page 5 looking completely believable. The Emperor’s Court is an entirely different location, looking extremely powerful, given the seats and Rei’s point of view. The setting that first appears on 15 is great and it’s populated with terrific characters. The final four pages return the story to an urban setting and one of Rei’s strengths is creating a variety of buildings that one would find in the city. That’s plenty about the sensational settings, let’s look at the character work. Talisman is frantic as he runs through the streets, with his close-up at the bottom of 3 outstanding: Rei has made him a strong character, yet frightened. The introduction of The Four on Page 4 is a full-paged splash and they look spectacular. They are buff, solemn and ready to take the Talisman down. The battle that occurs is easy to follow and has some incredible fire effects on the page. The clothing, especially the headdresses, of those on Pages 9 and 10 are outstanding; it’s neat to see how Rei can create differences in each realm, but have all regal air. The individual that helps the Talisman has a great entrance on 11, with her truly revealed on 13. The character on 15 looks beautiful and demonstrates on 16 that’s she’s no cream puff. The leader introduced on 17 is stunning and the magic she employs on 18 really, really cool. The first panel on 20 is my favorite of the book for the character shown and the clothing she wears that sweeps about her. Overall grade: A  

The colors: There are two different colorists on this book: Grostieta (1-6, 11-14, and 19-22) and Jorge Cortes (7-10 and 15-18). Though there are two, their work is so good no changes are noticeable between them. The opening castle in the Realm of Oz is surrounded by beautiful greens and a gorgeous sky. With the entrance of the hooded individuals, the sky goes black and the tone goes dark with the reds, oranges, and yellows of the torches going through the greens. Whenever Talisman narrates his story his thought boxes are given a dark orange, instantly notifying the reader whose thoughts they’re reading. Look at the different colors done on Talisman’s face in the final panel on Page 3 — he can be clearly seen, but he’s unquestionable in a dark settings. The blues emanating from the female member of The Four look cool and note how they are creating a blue glow onto her clothing. When the action begins the backgrounds go orange and they increase the heat when they’re used for fire. The reds used in the Emperor’s Court are dirty red, connoting something wrong about the individuals present. The sky behind the Talisman and his ally is a cool shade of violet with light blue clouds. The colors on 15 and 16 are the brightest of the book and look at the terrific work done on the main character’s clothes. The coloring on this book is very strong. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, narration, Talisman’s narration, sounds, dialogue, Morrigan’s unique font, and the tease for next issue are created by Fabio Amelia. The scene settings are incredibly formal looking, which befits the fairy tale locales and give the locations on Earth a bump up in magic. Talisman’s narration is Amelia’s best work of the book, with him using a font that makes the character seem very frantic. I loved it. The sounds are also really good, with the FOOSH on 5 being my favorite. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Amelia does for this series. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Happiness will be in your future if you pick up Tarot. An epic story with a interesting lead, solid action, and visuals that are beautiful. This is the perfect entry point to the Zenescope Universe. 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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