The holidays are not only for good children … but bad ones too!
Writer: Dave Franchini, Raven Gregory, R. Alan & Ben Meares
Artwork: Hakan Aydin, Eduardo Garcia, Moy R. & Umberto Giampà
Colors: Grostieta, Maxflan Araujo, Fran Gamboa with J.C. Ruiz & Sebastian Cheng
Letters: Maurizio Clausi
What They Say:
Tis the season to be terrified, as Grimm Fairy Tales returns with another year of holiday horror for the whole family. This issue includes three new bone chilling stories set during the happiest time of the year told by your favorite Yuletide figure, Krampus.
Content: (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):
Arose Such a Clatter
Work never stops for the wicked and as a hitman pays the Carpinos a late holiday visit, however he soon learns the fortunate couple has stepped out for the season, but that does not mean he too will be alone for this joyous time of year. After riddling an empty bed with a few silenced shots from his pistol, the assassin is surprised to learn the home was not deserted as he thought as several giggling minions easily subdue the dumbfounded killer. After stirring from his unwanted nap, this unsuccessful intruder witnesses who has caught him unawares and it is someone who delights in welcoming the undeserving to his well intentioned treats – Krampus.
Home For the Holidays
Local drug dealer Vincent is tired of always hearing excuses from one of his delinquent buyers Nicolas, so tonight he has his men persuade the offender with some physical enticement via a convenient table saw. Flimsy excuses will not placate his creditor this time, and after a few anxious minutes the poor man tells of his relationship with an elderly couple named the McKenzies. It is during this season when the home empties as others leave to visit their families, however Heather and Bradley stay all alone within the big house but are kind enough to invite their caretaker for holiday dinner. After the feast they insist on paying a large bonus from the big safe they keep in their upstairs bedroom, and the one time he saw this strongbox it has more than enough to pay back his debt many times over, all they need to do is secure it for themselves.
Lady of the Ice
While trying to retrieve their lost ball on top of a frozen lake, a kid tells his friends of a horrible incident which occurred on the same frigid slab involving a old lady trying to rescue her cat Davya who wandered out onto the ice. While the feline was so terrified it could not respond to its owner’s calls, they were not the only ones watching as a group of resentful delinquents prepared for revenge – for this elderly woman has told their parents of catching them smoking in the woods. As she gingerly stepped upon the flimsy surface, these nasty children began pelting the helpless rescuer with random objects to scare her, however a rock struck which in turn made the ice crack – resulting in both falling through and drowning in the freezing water. After finishing his tale the assembled of course panic and questioned why they never heard this story before, with the answer being all sworn to secrecy but they still needed to fetch the toy off the now understandably fright inducing surface.
A small boy is happily playing alone in the snow, cheerfully taking his time crafting a snowman as he talks to his new buddy, telling the icy companion the top hat he is now wearing was a gift from his grandfather who stated if he has problems making friends, then build them. However as the two delight in each other’s company, a group of teenage bullies are smoking and mocking the innocence of the scene, thinking something is wrong with the child and decide to teach him a lesson. After approaching the boy they ask who he is talking to, by which he responses he was having a conversation with the snowman whereby they laugh and state it’s not real – resulting in an insulting retort from the tormented child. Laughing at the boldness from an imaginary friend, the leader quips no one talks to him like that and takes out a large firework, lights it and stuffs the explosive within the frozen head. Watching the frigid toy crumble into pieces they continue to tease their victim as he cries at the loss, not noticing someone approaching once they leave and ask to borrow the special covering with a gentle voice of compassion.
With the return of Krampus loyal Zenescope readers know what time of year it is, and become all the more appreciative to see those naughty ones who have spread strife will now receive what they deserve under the malice of a suitable punishment. But of course when he enters the Grimm Universe one cannot but wonder how he will interact with the heroines, and yet it seems the writers are wandering away with this expected participation aside from the norm of provocative covers. However this does not mean these talented scribes will not pleasure the audience with appropriately chilling tales proper for the lead of this special, and Dave Franchini sets the mood with his transitional story by introducing the intended captive audience to his minions as he tells tales which will highlight the annual, with clever adaptations between stories to connect them as a whole, all as this jovial host crafts a most appropriate gift for his latest guest. So it is fitting to have writer Raven Gregory begin with a tale which displays the greed of the season all with a touch of his wondrous signature psychological thrills, portraying a story of what on the surface may be another seasonal robbery but warps into something all the more worthy of grim retribution and a touch of wicked essence that something else also celebrates a time of giving to those who may be difficult to find the right gift. But with a comical scene of Krampus reminding his audience not to be rude, the next tale of holiday misery is presented by R. Alan in a setting which reminds us not all are fortunate enough to have family to spend the season and must settle for a warm feline who returns all the heartfelt emotions which we give them, even if it for the sake of felicitous tangential revenge. And so with a final presentation which we cannot but smile to see a helper too caught up in the season, the closing story by Ben Meares brings readers a sweet taste of innocence laced by bitter animosity in the form of patronizing teenagers who may seem on the surface helpful, but in reality only appreciate the shame and sick laughter they earn by bullying those weaker than themselves. However this conclusion does ignite a warm sensation of begrudging admiration for the seasonal host as he injects himself into the narrative, allowing for the special to graciously come full circle and show Krampus is willing to participate if the ends provide this spirit with the motivation to show he is not as heartless as one may think and the chastisement worthy of his own personal involvement.
So as not to disappoint readers with artwork unworthy of such sentimental seasonal stories, a gritty opening scene presents the audience with grimness appropriate to the upcoming host by allowing illustrator Hakan Aydin to display the skill of an overwhelmed hitman as he is denigrated to a comical prop for minions while they dance around with menacing smiles; however the sense of desperation is made manifest due to Grostieta’s somber color palette while lighting the fanciful nature of this holiday with festive decorations, all as Krampus is shown making a mockery of his better known rival dressed in a recognizable crimson uniform. But as we settle in for what is expected to be a horrifying beginning, the tone shifts as artist Eduardo Garcia presents imagery indicative of a simpler and pleasant mood which appears unsuitable for these tales of terror and the color choices of Maxflan Araujo mute the sinister undertones of a home invasion, that is until we reach the gruesome if not welcomed conclusion. And yet as we are placated by a return of Krampus and his teasing intermission, the attitude once again changes to one of which seems out of place thanks to Moy R.’s crisp depictions of gentle sincerity as an elderly woman looks for her beloved cat who reflects the sheer terror it feels trapped on the ice, then add Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz’s subtle shading and it makes the tale feel all the more dramatic, but once we shift to a brighter environment any teasing terror is cancelled out due to the daylight and yet it is the sudden hook which makes our patience to see what happens worthwhile. With one last amusing pause from the helpers we approach the finale, a endearing remembrance of what the holiday means by embracing friends amid the cruelty of those jealous who wish for the same, with the warmth of a child so charmingly depicted by Umberto Giampà against the callousness of obnoxious teens; and yet even within the monotone atmosphere of white snow wondrously colored by Sebastian Cheng, there is still a clear definition of every element thanks to an engaging use of shadows and undertones to highlight each component within the malice displayed, with those same remarkable techniques skillfully utilized to contrast what happens next, with all the earnestness our proud host shows to those who have done wrong to those who were undeserving, giving a worthwhile conclusion to a memorable holiday tale.
Although we are presented a haunting seasonal special within Grimm Fairy Tales 2019 Holiday Special, there are times when the narrative and story seem mismatched due to competing viewpoints for the same audience, even as these menageries of imbalanced techniques finally settle into one cohesive concoction of welcomed enjoyment. However even as this disparity muddies the freezing waters, if one is patient and allows the various elements to settle the reward presents narratives which crystallize into chilling tales worthy of its host. It is a shame none of the Zenescope heroines were in attendance this time to reflect on these lessons, but with another year to wait for the next annual one can only hope this oversight can be remedied next time.
Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: November 06, 2019