In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales: Tarot #2

A bit difficult to know who's who, but an enjoyable read with beautiful art.

The covers: A big eleven covers to find for this second issue in this Zenescope epic. The A cover is by Igor Vitorino and Grosieta. This has Nataliya leaping down from the top of a building. She looks fantastic with her arms spread wide, perhaps to capture the abilities of the large crow that is behind her. Her hair, sleeves, and sash capture motion well. I also really like the design work on her leather pants. The colors are also really good, with the background highlights in light blue excellent. The B by Ediano Silva and Sanju Nivangune is a bit of a puzzler for me, since I don’t know who either of these warriors are and neither of them appear in this book. A large blonde man in white crosses swords with a unseen black robed character, who has wings. The collision of their weapons create a flash of yellow, standing out strongly on the orange-red background. I like this, but I don’t know these characters. Better is the C cover by Richard Ortiz and Ceci de la Cruz with the sexy woman who appears in this book’s opening sitting on her throne. Her headdress is beautiful, her clothing is minimal, and the throne echoes the Maya civilization. Everything about this works and it would look good on a print or tee shirt. A cloaked woman removes her face mask to reveal her painted white face that’s adorned with a painted black mask with intricate gold swirls. Very cool D cover by Riveiro and Vinicius Andrade. However, like the C cover, I don’t know who this is. She looks cool, the art is good, and the colors good, but who is this? The background is too empty for my liking and fades in too easily with the red bands at the top and the bottom of the cover. The London MCM Exclusives (limited to 250/100) are by Keith Garvey. The larger edition features the white haired beauty of this series up to her knees in the water of a beautiful beach. She wears a tiny bikini top and bottom, with the top being the Union Jack. This looks good. The lower numbered edition is the same image, minus the bikini top. The New York Comic Con Cosplay Pencil Exclusive (limited to 100) is by Michael DeBalfo and I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere, nor could I find the New York Comic Con Cosplay Exclusive (limited to 50) by Sabine Rich. The New York Comic Con Oktoberfest Exclusives (limited to 350/150/50) are by Keith Garvey. The largest edition features a gorgeous buxom blonde, pulling on one of her pigtails, wearing a beer garden girl outfit. She’s very pretty. The 150 edition features the same sized model in the same pose, but now she’s a brunette and wearing only a black bra and matching panties, garters, and stockings. This is also a nice cover. The smallest edition, the 50 copy limited, is the same girl, same pose, but now she’s a red head and has no top. These three are all good. Overall grades: A A, B C+, C A, D C+, London MCM Exclusives A, and New York Comic Con Oktoberfest Exclusives A

The story: Joe Brusha has this story going in a lot of directions. The book opens in the Realm of Oz with the citizens of a village refusing to join the order of Tarot and the Court of Pentacles. A soldier opens the door to one of the closed carriages and a beautiful raven haired woman wearing a crown of gold emerges. She looks upon the people and raises her hands. Fire erupts and she proceeds to kill everyone. Talisman opens his eyes — the nightmare over. In rushes his ally, the white haired, cloaked woman who fills him on what happened at the end of last issue. Meanwhile, all is not going well for Nataliya, who faces judgement from the Emperor’s Court. Additionally, the Court of Wands in Wonderland introduces Cynder, a powerful member of the Court of Cups. His action scene is good, but fairly predictable given his abilities and what his opponents are composed of. The history of the Order of Tarot is revealed in this issue, which explains a little bit about the group, but there are so many members, it’s hard to keep track. That’s a big problem with this book — Who are all these people? I know that when this series is collected and read in one sitting, names don’t have to be repeated, but for those of us following monthly names need to be brought up, see my reviews of some of the covers above. I’m enjoying this, but I couldn’t tell you who some of these individuals are. One individual I could identify appears on the final two pages and I’m as giddy as a schoolboy to see what she does next month. Overall grade: B- 

The art: Renato Rei does an incredible job on this. The opening page establishes a gorgeous village in Oz, with its citizens looking appropriately angered. The entrance of the woman that burns the villagers is cinematic, and her full reveal on Page 3 as she lets loose with her abilities is fantastic. The transition to the top of 4 with the fire blazing in Talisman’s eyes is excellent. This page and 5 shows what the book’s lead missed last month and Rei makes it incredibly exciting for a flashback. New character Cynder gets the biggest action in the book, starting in a peaceful position until roused by his opponents. The full-paged splash on 11 is extremely well done with the characters looking fantastic and the motion in them equally well done; I really like how Cynder’s clothing winds about him. The flame effects that follow are great. Page 3 showed that Rei can create fire well, but 12 and 13 have spectacular flame work. The character that visits Nataliya before an important moment has a great entrance and exit. The history of the Order of the Tarot is neatly shown in a page and half without any borders, and its leader is illustrated fantastically. Unquestionably my favorite page is the last one, featuring one of my favorite characters. I love how Rei makes this character look incredibly regal in her first full appearance, but the final panel has her looking absolutely malevolent. Perfect. That word sums up Rei’s work. Perfect. Overall grade: A

The colors: With so many characters and so many locations, it falls on colorist Grostieta to make them unique with their colors. The Realm of Oz is similar to medieval England with browns for the buildings and fairly bright colors for their clothes. The fire that’s shown on Page 3 is just a taste of the exemplary work that will appear later with Cynder. The flashback pages on 4 and 5 are given a bronze tint to age them, though when a character uses their magical abilities the colors go yellow or red. Speaking of red, the crimson that’s behind each seat in the Emperor’s Court is a perfect blood red making all the activities there ominous. Reds rightfully continue on Cynder’s scenes, for obvious reasons. The penultimate page’s final panel told me through the coloring who was about to be revealed. I loved the metallic blue, and when the character is fully revealed I loved every shade of her outfit. Outstanding. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, scream, Talisman’s narration, a member of the Emperor’s Court unique font, and the incredibly classy concluding three words are all created by Fabio Rossana. I really enjoy that Talisman has a unique font for his thoughts, instantly giving a visual clue to the reader that what he or she is looking at is not dialogue. The scene settings are also a good design, looking like something from a fairy tale, reminding the reader that this tale is set in the Grimm universe. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sensational sounds that occur throughout the book. Excellent work. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A bit difficult to know who’s who, but an enjoyable read with beautiful art. There’s a lot going on and I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going, as every character has their own twisted agenda. Some good action, but this issue’s conclusion promises next issue to start big. 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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