The first arc on the softly-rebooted Grimm Fairy Tales ended last month, and it was a fairly good end to a fairly strong arc. We got to meet with the next generation of probable Realm Knights and saw how they all interacted with each other and how they were all influences by their own past events, their histories and their own experiences. It created what I think of as a really volatile mix since they are all coming off the Realmsopcalypse that was Age of Darkness, and while things are back to normal, there are still some things needing a work-out.
In this week’s Grimm Fairy Tales #106, we are witness to the start of a new arc, and it doesn’t go off without its own troubles. The students begin combat training under Shang, and their differences quickly rise to the fore, especially between Ali and Wulf, all of it leading to some rather dark things in the second half of the issue. On the other hand, we have Sela seeking answers as to whether her new charges just might be too powerful for their own good, or if there’s a way that their immense powers can be curtailed. I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as I have the other ones, especially from an art perspective, but it was a decent issue still.
Violet Liddle’s biases against her teachers have finally borne some dark fruit in this issue, and it is very heartrending to see Wulf and Hailey follow through on their own biased interpretations of what Violet did back in #102 (IIRC). That is at the core of this issue as far as the storyline at Arcane Acre is concerned, but there’s also far more to it than that. We know of these young heroes as impulsive and quick to action without considering the ramifications and the reasons. They are all thrown together in a very unlikely circumstance and in trying to make the best of it, they are also falling prey to their inexperiences in dealing with the real dangers that Sela, Shang and Belinda have fought.
This is where the story nicely dovetails into something we saw a few issues back once the Genie was taken care of back at the end of #103. Sela wants answers to some recent mysteries that she has been confronted by and so she goes to the realm of Myst to meet with Druanna, formerly the Goddess known as Gaia. It turns out that it was Druanna who suggested the building of Arcane Acre and at the very site it is now built upon. This causes some more mysteries to unravel and by the end, we do have a clear picture of all that is going on at the magical academy.
I liked the overall story well enough. It had some neat twists and some good moments, though sometimes it also felt rushed. My only real issue here is that the dialogue didn’t work so well for me. Usually Pat Shand is quite good at that sort of thing, but this time it seemed he dropped the ball. The dialogue was often formal-ish and archaic and bland. It lacked a certain kind of energy to it.
Not to mention that the way the story ends, I am really confused since I thought that Sela would take a very different action in that particular circumstance after being told everything of what Druanna could tell her. Everything here is related to a really dark prophecy, and the way the story ends here, I don’t think that Sela and Shang made the right choice, and this is going to have some major repercussions later.
The art this time is by Przemyslaw Klosin, who does the first four pages here, and Andres Barrero, who does the rest of the issue. Ivan Nunes colours the first four pages with Steve Oaks on the rest. Micah Myers is on letters with Sean Chen and Ylenia Di Napoli are on the cover. The art here was passable at best. The stylized nature of the first four pages was really good, but the rest of the issue involved thick pencils, thick pencils and too-solid colours. The mix just didn’t work out. Plus, the expressions on Sela’s face when she is with Druanna, they really put me off. She was more a scared little child rather than the former Guardian of the Nexus, someone who has faced unimaginable horrors and has come out on top. Just too… weird for me.
Kind of a disappointing start to the new year, but I’m holding out hope.