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Grimm Fairy Tales Volume 2 #61 Review

8 min read

When things are at their darkest … Skye will never give up.

Creative Staff:
Story: Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini & David Wohl
Writer: Dave Franchini
Artwork: Babisu Kourtis
Colors: Jorge Cortes
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Lettering Assists: Elizabeth Sharland

What They Say:

Taking over after the death of her mother, Sela, Skye Mathers is the new Guardian of the Nexus. With the help of Shang, her mentor, and her friends at Arcane Acre, she is learning the extent of her new powers and trying to figure out her place in protecting the universe.

A new threat has risen, The Dark Princess, a tyrant that has broken free from a crumbling universe not much different than ours. Along with her generals, The Swarm, she began her assault on the Nexus by expelling Skye, Shang and their allies, scattering them across the realms.

Now they are desperately trying to find their way back to Arcane Acre to stand up to the Dark Princess before it’s too late.

Content (please note that portions of review may contain spoilers):

Only now understanding the ramifications of her selfish decision in an alternate Oz, Skye vehemently pleads with her unfeeling captor, the woman once known as Dorothy who only thinks about the endless thirst which she and her followers cannot quench, but now that this bloodthirsty ruler has the curious device that allows one to cross over worlds, that sanguine quest may have finally come to a devious end. And yet while this helpless Guardian looks on in horror as to the crass consequences of her desperate actions, all she can hear are callous remarks of a woman who looks like her departed mother, teasingly mocking that they are not so unalike in not being able to be trusted, even as the confident queen declares her prisoners will now be treated as witnesses as to what Mathers has made possible, all as the crimson portal opens in temptation of what lies beyond. But as primate troops dutifully march fearlessly through the doorway and Dorothy commands for their saviors to be escorted with them, Skye makes one last attempt to persuade this madness cease, only to fall upon deaf ears, even as the Guardian leans toward doppelgänger Liesel and warns her to be ready for anything.

Meanwhile back on Earth, the manipulative Baba Yaga instructs hesitant allies to follow her every command precisely as they attempt to breach the dimensions, with an amused comment if they do not heed her warning, something unwanted may come through. But as Sam wonders if this is the only way to bring back Skye and Shang responds that they have no other option, Allexa closes the conversation with her sincere opinion they cannot trust this sorceress, even as the silver haired vixen mockingly questions if she holds a grudge against her prior misdeeds and states they should move past their disagreements. However as Darren warns her fellow Guardian to ignore the witch’s taunts, it is then when their deceitful guide announces she has found something, but as the stunned heroes watch mysterious figures emerge from the swirling vortex of energy, they quickly realize it is not the person they were expecting, with the mustached mentor announcing these were alternate versions of Baba Yaga, who must be stopped at all costs.

In Summary:

While we were expecting this wild roller coaster ride through parallel universes to eventually come to an end, it is the unexpected diversions laid out by story creators Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini and David Wohl which give the reunion of our heroes a welcoming charm, even as writer Franchini attempts to clean up dangling story threads which gave attentive readers a reason to pause and wonder what would happen to those who Skye and Julia left behind in their hectic adventures. And yet as we hesitate to believe that vampiric queen Dorothy is about to conquer countless worlds, one cannot believe that this Guardian would allow such an atrocious failure to sully the clichéd trope of the good girl always winning, or at least without leaving the audience with an inkling of hope once she surrendered the harness device which would allow a serious breach in her righteous duty of protecting the realms. Whether they be from her home dimension or inhabited by those who resembled close friends, such differences did not matter as long Mathers could protect them to the best of her abilities, and we knew this remote possibility was conceivable once she was given no other choice. It is from this firmly ingrained belief in herself from which loyal readers cannot but admire this dynamic woman, someone who will readily sacrifice her freedom and those of countless allies if she believes she can save but one person, all while knowing she will find a way to overcome a new problem, even if it is due to her own questionable choice. But at the same time, it is due to this curious contraption and convenient fail safe from which Franchini is able to undo one of Skye’s most onerous misgivings during this remorseful journey, to save the mentally vulnerable and isolated version of Mary who she had to trick in order to liberate her precious jewel, the one decision which made this normally confident woman second guess herself and wishing they could have come to a more favorable agreement.

Even after they were plunged into a vampire-infested Oz, this guilt-ridden indecision still plagued the conscientious Guardian, making her wonder if her actions were justified, until the ever callous bluntness of Julia raised the notion they were destined to visit each world, meaning what they did to Mary was also guided by some equally cruel hand. While this malicious thought is troubling, it is the karmic balance that this issue brings that helps to even out the unease which Mathers felt throughout this final journey, with the favorable recall system that suitably allows her to trick a sanguine Dorothy to drag these prisoners into the desolate wasteland which Mystere calls home. But at the same time, it is within this abandoned world where the self-proclaimed scoundrel Sela is able to predictably redeem herself thanks to Franchini’s guiding hand, for while both ourselves and a dejected Skye did not fancy this detestable rogue, being a polar opposite of the noble woman who sacrificed herself to save both a tearful daughter and the realms she cherished, this well timed opportunity allows an unlikely hero to protect those she begrudgingly respects. It is from this incredulous showing that allows us to witness even foul miscreants can have a momentary lapse in judgment, and thus ultimately presenting themselves as a respectable person, and for the briefest of moments allowing us to poignantly remember the honorable heroine who saved us all. And yet even as we hesitantly acknowledge this fleeting show of bravery, it is Baba Yaga’s expected betrayal and Shang’s clever usage of her deception which obligingly concludes the story, allowing our exhausted heroes comically land on top of this overconfident villainess and finally reunite, all while leading into the harrowing conflict against the Dark Princess which has been put off for far too long.

While one might expect the frenetic tendencies of this issue to eclipse the poignant nature of the story itself, readers are not disappointed by the graphic splendor of Babisu Kourtis’ detail-oriented and sensitive illustrations, especially when we are movingly delighted by numerous close-ups which focus telling instances within the unfolding melodrama, made more stunning once Jorge Cortes’ visually captivating color scheme entices the audience to become enthralled by the ever-changing energy of this shifting escapade, with contrasting changes of what we consider normal tonal cues, vivid optimistic bursts signifying an upcoming change for the worse and somber cynical earthen tones denoting a chance for hope, with the heroes trying their best to bring their friend back home. But even within all of this dizzying artistic synergy, one cannot but immediately reflect upon Kourtis’ striking faces during pivotal moments, signaling a turning point for the event which it foreshadows, made particularly engrossing due to Cortes’ engaging color backgrounds that enhance the emotional events, causing our fevered attention to drift away from the tantalizing feminine forms which most would become riveted to when they make a seductive appearance. One cannot but be sincerely provoked by these rousing instances, whether from Skye’s shocked concern for her actions, scowls of utter hatred or amusement from Allexa and Baba, Mystere’s grimace of determination for uninvited guests or the disturbing roar of an infuriated Dorothy with spittle flying off her fangs, it is these auspicious moments that allow an ensnared audience to be more immersed within this stirring conclusion, allowing us to finally breathe a sigh of relief, even if we know its wanted duration will be all too brief.

Even as we receive a brief respite with our heroes returning home, it is the predictability of their arrival which leaves readers wondering how such a rousing story arc could have come to this meaningful pause due to the formulaic unfolding of events and clichéd resolutions for moving threads from past narratives, leaving us mildly unsatisfied with a lack of tangible substance in what we usually expect from this flagship series. While spectacularly moving illustrations and stunning color schemes are the keys to immersing the audience within this leading story, one cannot find fault with how moments unfold due to the artistic synergy that constantly keeps readers riveted to the page, each powerful image seamlessly transitioning into a growing admiration for what is to come. And yet as we are allowed to breathe a sigh of relief to see Skye and Julia find themselves once again within familiar confines, it is the immediate future of what lies ahead that worries the audience for what comes next, painfully remembering how they were swiftly defeated by the Dark Princess, all while hoping their latest adventures will serve as a fiery forge to strengthen their weakened mettle for defeating this callous tyrant.

Grade: A

Age Rating: T (for Teens)
Released By: Zenescope
Release Date: June 29, 2022
MSRP: $3.99

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