In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror 12

Disappoints on several levels.

The covers: A frightful foursome to fry your nerves to try to find. The A cover is by Pasquale Qalano and Ylenia Di Napoli and it’s really good. The red headed host Keres is in profile, turning to look at the reader, her task with a shovel interrupted. A broken manacle chain hangs from one wrist while another dangles from her waist. It suggests she’s escaped from somewhere, but what could keep her captive and what is she now doing? These are good visual teases of what to expect within. Good coloring on the background, making her pop on the cover. The B is by Chris Ehnot and David Delanty and it’s the most glamorous cover, featuring the host sitting atop a grave that has chiseled into it “Buried Alive.” Beautiful illustration with beautiful colors. This is worth tracking down. The EC Comics inspired covers continues thanks to Eric J. and Sean Ellery on the C cover. Underneath the big red logo, that apes the iconic horror books, the picture has a bird’s eye view into an open grave where a bound man is wide eyed in terror as two shovels dump dirt onto him. Creepy and explicitly shows readers what this story is about. There’s a San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive limited to 500 copies featuring art by Cris Delara. I couldn’t find an image of this online, but I’m sure to see one this week in person at the convention. Good luck finding this one! Overall grade: A A, B A+, and C B-

The story: “Buried Alive” starts in an industrial center, where Alexi makes his way into a secret gambling hall. He flirts with the attractive dealer, Keres, and is taken down a peg by one of his peers for not having respect for women. The dealer silences them down so they can play, and as Alexi begins to play one of this friends says, “Hey, win or lose tonight…we’re still better off than Adrian.” The scene then transitions to a farm where Adrian is put in a chair by two thugs, with two more overseeing. The man begins to apologize to Victor who yells him down saying, “I know exactly what happened. I brought an idiot onto my crew. This was a simple job, in and out, no worries. Then you go and do this!” and he shoves a newspaper in the man’s face whose front page picture shows Adrian in a bank with a gun over the headline COP KILLER! For his punishment, he’s to be buried alive. That’s only the beginning of this story by Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, written by Dan Wickline. This story is too similar to an episode from the 1972 film Tales from the Crypt. Being a fan of the EC Comics, I’ve seen this movie and remember it well. Starting with the visuals on Page 10 it began to echo that film and as the story progressed I feared it would be the same ending, and it was. I can’t recommend any story that follows a familiar story so closely with the same payoff. The final two pages has Keres allowing one person to die, but the main story left such a bad taste in my mouth, it was weakened. Overall grade: D-

The art: There are two different artists on this issue, Josh George on Pages 1 – 11 and Ronilson Freire on 12 – 22, and it’s obvious when the split occurs. George’s pages have good work on characters’ faces, starting with Alexi on Page 1 (looking nicely ticked at the top of 3) and the other characters at the card game. This is the first time I’ve seen Keres looking so normal; usually she’s drawn as a bombshell, but here she’s pretty but not unworldly gorgeous — I liked this change up on her. When things go to the barn and Adrian’s beat down the characters look good and the protagonist’s close-ups on 7 spectacular. They remind me of Bernie Wrightson’s work, and that’s a good artist to go to for inspiration in a horror book. The situation on 8 and 9 has Adrian obscured, but that’s to be expected. The location on 11 is nicely rendered. Freire’s work starts on 12 and it’s easy to tell a new artist has begun: the character work is not as nicely done. At the bottom of the page a character is running and it’s just a sketch of an individual, as is the vehicle and the background fence. This looks like a rush job. The payoff panel on 20 has the character’s hands way too small for the head. The detail on the face is fine, but those hands are so tiny as to take my focus from the face, and that shouldn’t be happening. The last two pages are equally sketchy. If the book had started with Freire and then shifted to George it might have left me in a better state, as the art would have improved, but ending with Freire closes this book on a visual low note. Overall grade: D+

The colors: There are three different colorists on this book: Viviane Tybusch on 1 – 11 and Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz on 12 – 22. The book is pretty dark, due to the settings, and it’s appropriate, but when opportunities allow for bright shades they’re nicely inserted. The card game has some nice highlighting on characters, such as Alexei in the fourth panel on 2 and the second panel on 3. The work done on the character to his right is also good. The coloring on Pages 6 and 7 are the best by Tybusch, with characters’ clothes being great, and the top two panels on 7 being my favorites. The first panel on 12 has the brightest coloring on the entire book, which is nice change up by Gamboa and Ruiz. The pair use a lot of blues on their work, but once the character enters an interior on 16 and 17 things brighten up. The reds on 21 are a little odd, but improve on 22. Decent. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Sounds, dialogue, Keres speak, narration, yells, signage, and next issue’s tease are done by Micah Myers. This work is all over the place. The first page has some nice sounds, but the dialogue at the bottom of the page is in really tight dialogue balloons. I don’t understand why Myers didn’t make the balloons larger; there was plenty of room to do so. The yells on 7 are great and all the sounds that follow this page are excellent. The signs on Page 18 look more like computer filler than actual signs. The scream in the payoff panel of 20 is way too tiny. Granted, not much room is given to Myers to insert the sound, but it could have crossed over in the first panel on the page to serve as a verbal introduction to the image. It’s just too small. A sound on Page 3 is repeated on 21, but it’s for two different devices and I’ve never heard these two devices ever sounding similar. The tease for the next issue is so tiny and thin, it looks like a last minute job. Myers has done much better on other books, so I’m surprised to see his work look like this. Overall grade: C-

The final line: Disappoints on several levels. Any fan of EC horror will recognize this story and the visuals are very mixed. Overall grade: D+

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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