In Review: Grimm Universe Presents Fall 2019

Five stories in sixty pages that tease upcoming series.

The covers: Five different covers to find for this massive one-shot. The A Cover is by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes. Red Agent stands with her blade held before her as she looks into a concrete structure that’s blown outwards. Behind her a storm ranges with rain pouring and lightning flashing. She looks fantastic and the colors are perfect. It’s no wonder that this was chosen as the A cover. The B is by Richard Ortiz and Sebastian Cheng. Belle dominates this cover as she faces the left, but is slightly turned to look upon the reader. She has her long sword over her right shoulder and her massive cape billows out behind her. She stands out strongly in her blue costume against a taupe colored background. This is elegant and strong. Next up is Keres on the C from Alfredo Reyes and Ylenia Di Napoli. Holding a wicked dagger in her right hand and an ax in her left, which has a skull atop it, she is facing the reader, showing she isn’t only deadly but decisively beautiful. The background is Gothic goodness, complete with candles smoke, and tall windows. Grab this cover, if you dare! One of my favorite characters Mystere is featured on Michael DiPascale and Sanju Nivangune’s D cover. She’s sitting on a red velvet bed, with a matching curtain behind her and a lone emerald pillow behind her. She has her left hand behind her head and looks surprised to see the reader. I love this character and I love this. The final cover, the E, by Derlis Santacruz and Ula Mos highlights one of the original Zenescope characters: Little Red Riding Hood. She’s got her arms behind her as she steadies herself against a fallen tree in a dark forest. The background is a photo that’s been tinted blue. The character stands out in red and the ample amount of flesh she’s showing. This okay, but Santacruz usually does much better work than this. I also would have preferred a drawn background. This seems rushed. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A, D A, and E C+

The story: “Safehouse” featuring Red Agent is by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, and Billy Hanson, written ultimately by Hanson. In London, Britney and Avril Williams are trying to get off the street after a fight and Britney takes her partner to her safe house in Rendlesham Forest. Unfortunately the pair are followed by the Observer. Tracked, their safe house isn’t safe as an army wants in to get them. How the men gain entrance is neat and the fight the follows is great. I need more Red Agent in my life! “Belle: Liberty” by Dave Franchini involves Belle fighting an unlucky security guard that’s been transformed into a monster after being exposed to some green goop that bubbled up from under the Liberty Bell. The fight is good and the banter between Belle and Candlestick is great. And just when Belle thinks everything has wrapped up, she fails to notice she’s being watched. Good fun! “Robyn Hood: Pro Bono” is conceived by Brusha, Tedesco, Franchini, and Ben Meares, with Meares writing it. Robyn is helping a mother look for her daughter. The problem is that the police are after the hero after she was framed in her previous series. There’s a neat villain I’ve not seen the protagonist fight before and the reveal at the end has me eager to read Robyn’s next series. The penultimate story is “The Bridgewater Triangle: Curse of the Wampanoag” by Brusha. I really like stories set in the past and combining this setting with horror makes it even better. I like the antagonists of this tale and the how it leads into the upcoming series. This is just enough to tease the horrors that are coming in September. “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Meares features Mystere whose ferocious battle with a foe ends in a horrific way, prompting her to change where she settles. A great story with a neat twist in the end. I’m piqued to see where this is heading. Overall grades: “Safehouse” A, “Belle: Liberty” B+, “Robyn Hood: Pro Bono” A, “The Bridgewater Triangle: Curse of the Wampanoag” B+, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” A 

The art: Oliver Borges is the artist on “Safehouse” and does a good job. I like the Observer’s design, with his evil smile terrific. The heroes look good and in action they’re great. I really like when Britney got the focus on Page 7. “Belle: Liberty” has art from Cleber Lima and he does a solid job on the extremely ornate costume of Belle’s; her togs are probably the most detailed of any character in the Grimm Universe. The splash that starts the story is excellent for establishing both characters and the location in one image. The fight is good and the last panel is done from a cool point of view. Robyn’s outing is illustrated by Babisu Kourtis. The first panel of the story opens things up from a sensational point of view and I really like how Robyn is in the shadows. The setting where the battle takes place is really good and the baddie of the piece is worthy of a return for the future. The final panel is an excellent concluding image. Deivis Goetten creates the visuals for the Bridgewater horror story. The first page is cinematic and wonderfully segues into a horrible act about to be committed. When the tables turn and someone is being threatened Goetten shines. The double-paged splash is some nifty nightmare material. I’m liking the character work by Alexandre Nacismento on the Mystere story, with the villains looking appropriately spooky. The large panel on the fourth page is particular sweet and sick. The mass that attack on Page 6, sadly, is hard to make out. However, the climax of the fight looks good. Overall grades: “Safehouse” A, “Belle: Liberty” B, “Robyn Hood: Pro Bono” A, “The Bridgewater Triangle: Curse of the Wampanoag” B-, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” B

The colors: Naturally reds dominate in the first tale because of Red Agent. When the action kicks in there’s a lot of smoke in the panels and this allows colorist Sebastian Cheng to make the characters pop off the page against the grays. Sound effects and energy discharges also look good. Jorge Cortes colors Belle’s tale and the blues on this tale are slick eye magnets for the reader. The green goo is really fun and the fire that’s a key component of the climax is fiercely bright. Juan Manuel Rodriguez is the colorist on the Robyn Hood tale. The first panel is a knockout for the oranges and greens. The reds on the third page certainly focus the reader’s attention. The large panel on the fifth page is dark, but not so dark as to make the art clump up. I really like how some panels are outlined in orange to make them stand out. Bridgewater’s nightmare is colored by Maxflan Araujo who creates a powerful sunset for a background. In fact, the entire story has smashing skies throughout. Ceci de la Cruz is the colorist on the final tale. The reds and orange for flames are powerful and the greens are gloriously ghastly. I also really like that Mystere’s narration is given a strong red to make it stand out on the page. Overall grades: “Safehouse” A-, “Belle: Liberty” A, “Robyn Hood: Pro Bono” A, “The Bridgewater Triangle: Curse of the Wampanoag” A-, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” A+ 

The letters: There’s not much room for Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios to squeeze in the credits in the first panel of “Safehouse”, but he makes it work. His scene settings are exciting for being in a zippy thin font titled slightly forward, leading the reader into each new location. Esposito’s sounds are also superb. Kurt Hathaway also uses cool scene settings, but I’m not as thrilled with the narration and transmissions, which are in the same font as dialogue. They’re differed by their balloons and colors, but they really should have been in a different font. That said, the sounds are excellent! Esposito returns to letter the Hood story. The scene settings remain cool, the sounds are awesome, and the transmissions are differed from the dialogue. The title on the Bridgewater creeper looks great. Narration, dialogue, yells, and sounds are done perfectly by Fabio Amelia. The dialogue on this tale is the easiest to read of all the stories, so my hat’s off to Amelia for this. Carlos Mangual is the letterer on the Mystere’s tale. Scene settings, sounds, monstrous voices, and weakened narration are outstanding on this tale. Mangual knocks it out of the part. Overall grades: “Safehouse” A, “Belle: Liberty” B-, “Robyn Hood: Pro Bono” A, “The Bridgewater Triangle: Curse of the Wampanoag”A, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” A+ 

The final line: Five stories in sixty pages that tease upcoming series is something you should check out. There’s plenty of action, great characters, and enough of a tease in each story to make you want to track one, if not all, of these books. I’m very happy to see Red Agent and Mystere back in action and The Bridgewater Triangle promises horror from vengeful spirits. I love books like this because it’s a great way to see what a publisher has planned for future series. Zenescope, you’ve created a terrific sampler. 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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