Last month Zenescope began a new phase in its flagship Grimm Fairy Tales series with the launch of issue #101 which started a new arc, set a year after the events of Grimm Fairy Tales #100. The new arc brought together Sela Mathers and Shang as they tried to rebuild the Realm Knights, the team of heroes given charge to defend the Realms. Characters like Violet Liddle, Ali, Wulf, Sela’s daughter Skylar and Hailey are the ones chosen to form the new team, and the issue last month got off to a fantastic start indeed. I loved both the story and the issue, and wanted more since.
This week’s Grimm Fairy Tales #102 continues the story of Ali and the Genie that was freed from the magical lamp that Ali brought with him to Arcane Acre, the residence of the Realm Knights-in-training. While last month’s issue was scene-setting and character introduction, this week’s issue is all about telling a story about the relationships between the characters and unveiling the history of one of the new characters and also creating a bond between the young warriors. Pat Shand and Andrea Meloni do some great work once again, setting a strong positive tone for this new arc.
Last month’s issue was a great jumping-on point for the series and this week’s issue wraps up this short-and-sweet arc in a really nice way. It is a great strategy moving forward, since we just came from the year-long Age of Darkness crossover event. I’d imagine that readers are looking for short and digestible stories right now, and on that front writer Pat Shand delivers quite admirably. After a brief dabbled back in 2012, I finally got on-board with Zenescope comics this year, and I’m having quite a blast of it right now. And Pat Shand is leading the charge on it, given that he is one of the more prolific writers with the publisher.
Some of the best moments in this issue were those that explained how and why Ali came to Arcane Acre. This character has a nice and brief history that Pat Shand explores in this issue and it doesn’t disappoint. Sure, it is not the grand, grand story of Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, but it does have its own complexities and depth to it that I liked. And Ali himself made for a really good character. The reasons for why he has the lamp and why he brought it to Arcane Acre were delved in, and that helped me connect with the character beyond the mere excitement of seeing him pop up here.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the other characters are ignored. The flirtations between Wulf and Hailey continued here, for one, and we saw how Shang puts a stop to it for the moment, since the students are all still adjusting, with it being only their first night at the Arcane Acre. Plus the aggression between Wulf and Ali towards the end set up the seeds for a long-term subtle conflict between the two of them, which was interesting. Pat Shand doesn’t go into much detail with either Violet or Skylar, but the way that he ends the story hints at a dark future, in keeping with Zenescope’s “adult dark fantasy” theme, and it also shows that what the Genie showed to the students may just have some permanence after all.
The first arc might be only 2 issues long here, but Pat is definitely seeing things for the longer game, and I find that exciting, to see how one small thing from these two issues might lead into something bigger later on, and how some of the other plot threads might be carried on as well.
Andrea Meloni is on the pencils, with Ivan Nunes on the colours, Jim Campbell on the letters and the ever-awesome Jenny Frison on the cover. Andrea’s Genie was the real steal of this issue, especially in terms of his expressions and his malignant looks while he grants the wishes of the students, albeit in not quite the manner that they think of. And given the ensemble cast of the new status quo here, each character stands out from panel to panel. The expressions on a couple characters were iffy here and there, but by and large the pencils and colours were really spot on. And the final page was an amazing cliffhanger as well!
Great start and where things go from here should be fun!
More Grimm Fairy Tales: #101.