Where are the boobs? Zenescope's Grimm line, built almost entirely on the firm yet supple foundation of boobs and then more boobs starts this new book in their Wonderland series focusing on Johnny, the son of Alice with a dark past, trapped in the magical Netherland. No boobs here. Even the cover shows a remarkable level of restraint, with cleavage present but absent the sticky stripper aesthetic of the usual offering. So does this mean a Grimm book that actually has to tell a story and that can't fall back on their Joe Francis tendencies? Go on... In the first issue we find Johnny running away from a monster. That's pretty much the whole issue. Our hero (?) Johnny was stranded in Wonderland by his sister for crimes including murdering their father, and now Johnny is wrestling with this guilt as well as all the hungry vicious things that live in a magic jungle. The Red Queen is surprised by the return of a powerful villain, and Johnny finds and/or always had a talking knife. It's remarkable how little actually happens in the issue, but that's what you get when you have three (THREE) two-page splash pages and one regular splash. Two-page splashes should be rare in an entire series and there's a real sense of desperate padding here; neither the moments they are used for or Alessandro Miracolo's sketchy unimpressive art excuse them. Again, four-story plotters and two script writers were required to put out this meager script, making for fascinating questions of what the division of labor could be like. It's not unreadable, but for nearly the whole book told in navel-gazing narration by the protagonist you don't end liking him much more than you did when it started, an ugly character on a bland journey. In addition the book features two commerci-- I mean Editor's Notes reminding you to go back and buy the preceding trade paperbacks so you can understand all of what lead to this riveting adventure.
The art is traditionally misleadingly cheap on the inside, Zenescope being the worst of comic Pied Pipers, luring people in with the professionally rendered covers only to crack the polybag to find dashed out scrawl. Alessandro Miracolo has his own style, but the more I read the more discount the artwork felt, and I realized any positive attributes I could lend to the artwork came entirely from colorist Ben Sawyer who did the thankless job of applying some good saturated watercolor tones to the uneven lines. Like the script, the art is not unreadable but insultingly cheap, most laughably during the two page splashes that are little more than passably colored outlined shapes in places.
Reading Zenescope books for their story is like watching softcore porn for the editing. With dozens of TV shows, movies, and comic books all getting in on the adult retelling of fairy-tales even the least creative do more with their material than Zenescope, and the books don't even have the barest kind of trashy fun that the covers suggest. Not unreadable but providing no reason to read it. I'd be more angry about the bait and switch if I had to pay for this issue, but then again if you're still spending money on their Grimm books, you only have yourself to blame.
Writer: Pat Shand, Raven Gregory Artist: Alessandro Miracolo Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/9/13