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Friday, May 13, 2011

Latest Comic Book Reviews: Grimm Fairy Tales Dream Eater Saga # 0 (Prologue); Mouse Guard: The Black Axe # 1 & 2

Today I've got my reviews for three fantastic comic book issues: one is the prologue of what could be a good horror comic series from Zenescope Entertainment, and the other two is the prequel of  the critically acclaimed Mouse Guard series from Archaia Publishing.. Hopefully these reviews will help you decide whether or not to spend a single dime on these titles.

Before you click ok the jumpie link down there, let me note that the titles are rated by the number of stars I give them, with 5 stars being the highest. That means if a title gets a rare 5 stars, then that should be really m'effin good! 

Now that we got that out of the way, you can now click on the jump for my reviews.

Grimm Fairy Tales Dream Eater Saga # 0
Written by Ryan Gregory
Art by Anthony Spay
Published by Zenescope Entertainment

Its not bad to have a some kind of change, right?. I got a little bit tired of reading superhero comic books lately, so I thought I'd give this intriguing issue from Zenescope from their Grimm Fairy Tales series: which is basically an attempt to re-tell the classic Brothers Grimm stories with a more darker and twisted spin on it, kind of like Vertigo's Fables but with the horror film style storytelling and women in sexy fetish gear. 


In a realm known as Myst, a young girl named Baba Yaga discovers a book known as "The Book of Lost" - a book to be recorded as the most powerful and most desired in all of the realms. Before she can read it though, her mother tells her to go to sleep, and then goes on to recount a story about the Dream Eater: a beast known to legend as one that would destroy everything in the realms. What follows is a very grotesque and tragic event, where an evil force led by an entity known as the Dark One - (who is basically a devil that actually speaks words like "GOTCHA!") suddenly attacks and burns the whole village, killing everyone in sight - including Baba's mother, in search of the effin' Book of Lost. 

The poor girl sees all of these horrific events while hiding, and goes on to seek for help, but The Realm Council - the supposed "protectors" of the realms and hunters of the Dark One and his forces - turns a blind eye and leaves Baba Yaga on her own (fucking jackasses, those guys). Totally screwed over, Baba Yaga then vows to have revenge on everyone who has done her wrong and thus her mission towards obtaining unimaginable power begins.

Truth be told, I was impressed by the old school storytelling technique. You know, somebody innocent gets fucked up so bad then all this rage just eats him/her up that he/she would turn into a "monster" so to speak. Its pretty entertaining and emotionally depressing at the same time that we can't help but like it, though we have seen it so many times in movies, novels and other comic books. Remember  "The Crow"? - Eric and his girlfriend gets mugged by m'fuckers, the girl gets gangbanged and raped while Eric watches, then after all of that, they are both brutally killed and left for dead. Only that Eric miraculously survived and then becomes the gothic-facepainted bad-ass  hell bent on exacting some sweet and painful revenge. Yeah its like that, only with devils, sorcery and magic. 

The art was impressive, very well done in my opinion. Structures and the anatomy is right on point, as evidenced by some nice titties and nipples from Baba Yaga's mom. Seriously, the pencils works with the dark, mystical setting going on, just as the toned-down colors that adds a little bit of a "photo-realistic" effect on it. Not to mention the "spooky horror film" aura it gives to the story.

What I don't understand is the connection of the sexy covers to the story. I think its just an eye-candy whose purpose is to attract readers - male readers in particular - with no relevance to the main plot at all. But I'm going to be honest: those covers is what got me into getting this book. It works, Zenescope. Don't ever remove those sleazy covers, especially those from Greg Horn

Nice start we got here for what looks like to be an interesting saga. Give this a try if you are looking for a nice comic book story fresh out of the stands and something that veers away from the often confusing superhero storyline continuities. 


Mouse Guard: The Black Axe # 1 & # 2

Written by David Petersen
Art and Colors by David Petersen
Published by Archaia 

I'm a big fan of this wonderful series created by David Petersen as you already know, and I'm glad that this prequel for the epic Mouse Guard Fall of 1152 and Winter of 1152 is now out with two issues published, the third one to be released sometime this May.

But let's talk about these two issues first. As the title already suggests, this is the story of how our beloved, grumpy old Celenawe of the main storyline became the legendary "Black Axe" - the most dreaded champion Mouse Guard of all time. 

Issue # 1 tracks back 40 years of time, showing Celenawe (pronounced as "KHEL-EN-AWE") in his early days as a Mouse Guard living quietly in an island away from the kingdom of Lockhaven, until he a visitor, an old lady mouse named Em, arrives on the island looking for the young guard. As it turns out, Em was sent by Guard's matriach leader to find Celanawe so he can help finding a long lost legendary weapon of mice folklore - The Black Axe. 

But this is without dangers though, as Petersen quickly gives a thrilling cat-and-mouse... err... squirrel-and-mouse game rather, with Celenawe and Em trying to hide from a deadly band of hunting squirrels before they get into the sea to continue their journey. 

Jumping over to issue # 2, the two mice arrives in Port Sumac where they find themselves in a new place filled with greedy and dangerous mice, with some of them looking like pirates and thieves.The beauty on this issue is that we get to see the main characters fully embark on their quest to find the Black Axe and encounter dangerous perils that the vast ocean and the journey itself, offers - like an octopus twice a size of a mice, and the shortage of food. It is here in this issue as well, where the history of the Black Axe is finally explained to the reader, as to why is it so important that the mice even have to risk their lives just to find it. 

Over the course of these two issues, Petersen still manages to bring a long time reader like me - who hasn't read a single Mouse Guard story after "Fall of 1152" finished - back to the drawing board again. He exemplifies terrific story telling capabilities in both stories, as proven by the thrilling encounter with the squirrels in #1, the octopus that looks to threaten Celenawe's boat in issue # 2, and even the death of Em's travel crow at the hands of the vicious squirrels or the "quiet" scene of Em and Celenawe talking about the long forgotten history of the Black Axe. It seems that Petersen is not going to run out of interesting dialogs and plotlines coupled with the right amount of flash backs and appropriate emotions necessary for each scene - a reminder that Petersen is truly one heck of a talented guy.

His art is still spectacular, detailed and very much alive, which I could say is better than those who illustrate actual human beings in their own works. To think that Petersen is drawing these animals and making them move and emote with such grace is definitely awe-inspiring. He's also able to illustrate brutality and violence every effectively without the use of much gore and blood, which still makes the book very child friendly in that sense. Furthermore, issue #2 shows that he can not only draw animals, but it also showcases his ability to create entirely different worlds and bring them to life with great intricacy, coloring and texture. He's doing it all ladies and gentlemen. This is an artist at the truly at the top of his game.

As I have said in my previous reviews for this title, don't be deceived by cute mice starring in this series because they are not acting cute, cuddly and all that. "Mouse Guard" is the best of the best out there, and this prequel mini-series is just as stellar as the main Guard books. And from all the praise  that Petersen and his creation has received over the years, I think that gives you more than enough reasons to pick this up and starting your own Mouse Guard experience.

Rating for issue # 1: 
Rating for issue # 2: 

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