In Review: Grimm Fairy Tales Steampunk #1

A great story slips and slides in its storytelling due to the artwork.

The covers: A fivesome to find on this first issue of a Steampunk western. Sean Chen and Ivan Nunes have created a wonderfully detailed cover of Liesel Van Helsing holding a gun in one hand and a sword in the other. She looks incredible, with a teched out bowler, a dark red corset, and pirate boots. Behind her is a classic western city, but above and below this city is an intricately detailed drawing of swirls and gears in green. This is a beautiful A cover. The second cover, the B, is by Richard Ortiz and Ylenia Di Napoli. Robyn Hood has been altered to wearing a lot of Steampunk gear, with her compound bow composed of many gray gears. Behind her is a metropolis with several zeppelins in the sky. Good coloring on this image allows all aspects of her costume to stand out. The C cover is by Mike Krome and it’s the image accompanying this review. It features Cinderella, who looks more like a classic gun moll than a Steampunk character, but I love the design of her clothes and the feathers in her hair. The background is also really well done. An outstanding cover. Renato Rei and Wes Hartman do the D cover. This frontpiece has Sheriff Shang with Red Riding Hood ready for action against a rusted background that contains may gears. They both look great, but I’ll admit to wanting to see the focus on her. The final cover is the 2nd & Charles Exclusive by Mike Krome with colors by Ula Mos. This is an incredible cover and the one to hunt down! It shows Robyn standing before a door that is open upon a vast cityscape. She’s turned slightly back to consider the reader. The doors that have opened are designed excellently, made of tubes, ovals, and gears that look real. The sky is beautiful and the colors fantastic. Good luck tracking down this one, as it’s limited to only 500 copies! Overall grades: A A, B B+, C A, D B+, and 2nd & Charles Exclusive A+

The story: Three crew members of the Albatross XI are alerted to a noise coming from one of the crates. They investigate and discover a colorfully dressed woman. They ask if she’s a pirate, one of Scarlet’s men? The woman produces a white flower and blows upon it, releasing some glittering dust that knocks them down with hallucinations. Alice then moves to a crate and releases Cinderella, who is mute. The final box is opened to reveal their leader, Robyn Hood. They’re on board to steal the shipment of Aether, a substance that has magical effects. Author Pat Shand, working from a story conceived by Ralph Tedesco, Joe Brusha, and himself, has the familiar faces of the Zenescope universe changed into a Steampunk western, with the world giving them different personalities and alliances. The girls are an infamous group of thieves, looking to make a profit on the Aether. Complicating things is the arrival of William with a large gun. Over the course of the book something will happen to him that he will consider a curse, yet it will make him a hero. A shocking moment occurs on Page 12, turning into a surprising reveal on 16. His conversation and relationship with Liesel Van Helsing is terrific. If the remainder of the issue had just focused on this pair I would have been satisfied, but Shand doesn’t just settle for this pair. Other characters are introduced, with an excellent pair on 24 and an outstanding one on 37. Where this is going, I have no clue. All I know is I’m ready for the trip. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork is by Annapaola Martello, with Daniele Cosentino providing layout assistance. The visuals are good to average, which is apparent on the second page. The third panel features a character shown from behind on the first page, yet when encountered on this page there’s no reference point for him. He’s not even shown in the same panel as the characters who find him. He appears to have fallen to the ground because the third panel shows him on the ground, though the reader never saw this fall occur. This is simply confusing storytelling. Alice’s appearance is creepy good, and she looks great. When she blows her batch of Aether laced flowers at the guards it’s beautiful. Her release of her compatriots is also good, with Robyn’s release warranting a full paged splash. The design of each character is cool, tweaked ever so slightly for this Steampunk adventure. The arrival of William is a little odd. The line work is really thick, which is very different from how characters have been rendered previously. Pages 14 and 15 are a beautiful double-paged spread of the Albatross XI above a city. William’s awakening is great and his new piece of equipment is excellent. The entire sequence with William and Liesel and another individual is excellent. Pages 23 and 24 have a two-thirds double-paged spread from an odd angle, making the two new arrivals difficult to make out; I have no idea why this angle and point of view was chosen for these major characters. The same holds true for the final pages, 36 and 37. Again, another new player is introduced but there is an amazing amount of dead space in the upper right hand corner. An odd point of view has hurt the impact of this character’s entrance. Some good and some odd choices by Martello and Cosentino on this book. Overall grade: C

The colors: There’s nothing but good to be said about Robby Bevard’s contributions to this book. He’s able to capture realistic lighting on this book very well, as shown in the second and third panels on the opening page. Bevard can also create magic with his colors, as the loosed Aether from Alice looks as if something from Heaven has been blown upon them. In fact, there are many good effects done with colors on this book, such as when Alice tests the substance and the smoke that heralds William’s entrance. My favorite coloring by Bevard is the cool green-blue used for Liesel’s dark room. It creates an eerie night time feel and it allows sounds to pop, especially on Page 18. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Go-to Zenescope letterers Ghost Glyph Studios provide an opening quote, dialogue, sounds, yells, an editorial note, a masked character’s speech, text on a wanted poster, and next issue’s tease. The sounds on this book are strong, making every action scene explode with noise. This is true aboard the Albatross XI with the top of 9 being deafeningly brilliant. Overall grade: A

The final line: A great story slips and slides in its storytelling due to the artwork. For a cover price of $5.99 I expect stronger, consistent visuals. Still, the story was enjoyable so I’ll return to see how this plays out in its concluding chapter. 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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