With an impressive 88th installment of their Grimm Fairy Tales series coming out today, Zenescope is putting out one of the longest-running independently published in-color ongoing series in comics. If you’ve never read any of the Grimm Fairy Tales like me, here’s a brief synopsis: the series follows Sela Mathers who is a “Falseblood.” Essentially this means that she was born with both human and “Highborn” (belonging to one of four realms linked to Earth: Myst, Neverland, Wonderland, and Oz) blood. Sela also protects and guides other Falsebloods on Earth while trying to stop evil from destroying it. What was confusing to me was that the book introduced Sela, but in this issue she’s “busy dealing with a worldwide crisis.” I wish they would have instead introduced the Dark One and the Dark Queen before the story. Previously in the series it does say that the Dark One brought back his wife, the aforementioned Dark Queen. To do this, he performed “one final sacrifice at the mouth of an active volcano.” They then do a good job providing back matter on the subject once the book actually starts, but for someone who’s never read this comic before it was a little confusing trying to figure everything out before delving into reading it.
This issue takes place in Las Vegas, which is symbolic in the fact that Malec (we learn that this is the Dark One’s name) sums the city up and says that beneath all the smiles of the dancers and all the bright neon lights is darkness, waiting to claim anyone who can find its truth. After that, we’re introduced to the resurrected Dark Queen who is an enormous and atrocious monster. She is clearly made up of the volcano where Malec was performing his botched sacrifice; flames rise and rocks smolder on her body as lava drips down from all over. The Dark Queen claims that Malec had thousands of years to bring her back, and now he has failed. His rebuttal is that he had to go to great lengths to even try to resurrect the Dark Queen: he had to perform sacrifices, find gems and scepters, chalices, and amulets. It all meant nothing, but Malec is still promising that he will bring his queen back.
Right about here when there is a panel of only the Dark One I noticed that the art is not nearly as good as it is on the front cover. I’ve read other reviews saying the same thing about Zenescope books; I just don’t see how hard it would be to fix that problem. The art’s pretty good, but it’s nothing to write home about. The colors don’t pop off the page, it’s hard to imagine the mansion that this issue takes place in, and the overall quality just isn’t what you see on these covers.
Getting back to the story, this is just where I thought I understood everything that was going on. Of course this is when the most bizarre part in the book has to take place. One of Malec’s servants says that a guy named Morrigan needs to see him. Malec all of a sudden grows this demon-like hand and rips the servant’s head off. To me this seemed for no apparent reason. Luckily after this though, more plot points are explained and the story comes to a good conclusion. We learn that the Dark Queen was once a princess of Myst, and her real name is Lucinda. Not before long though, she was corrupted by the Dark Horde. Her servant would teach her the dark arts, but Lucinda’s strict parents quickly found out what she was doing and put the servant to death. Lucinda kept practicing the dark arts in private, and revived the mentor’s corpse only to steal its power. When she feels the overwhelming power, she ends up killing many people including her own parents and their citizens.
Eventually Malec sacrifices enough people by hanging them so that the Dark Queen can come back as Lucinda. Now that the Dark Queen is back, will she take over all four realms like she plans to?
There were a couple of spots I was confused and the book seemed a little disjointed, but the second half of the story really drew me in and I wanted to see what happened next. This book, as I’m sure all the other Grimm Fairy Tales, does dark, gritty storytelling, violence, and gore very well. The art during these parts for me was the best this issue had to offer, and story-wise it was one of the more interesting parts as well.
I’m definitely not one of the people Zenescope caters their books towards, but I still enjoyed this issue. I don’t think I’ll go back and read #1-87 anytime soon, but the refreshingly original story was good enough to make up for the average artwork and I might have to check out other issues in the future.
Writer: Pat Shand
Artist: Lalit Kumar Sharma
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Release Date: 8/21/13