Writer: Joe Brusha
Art: Sami Kivela
Colors: Maxflan Araujo
I am still relatively new to the world that Zenescope has painted in its books centered around Grimm Fairy Tales. The publisher’s books are kind of like what Once Upon a Time would be if that TV show were on Showtime or HBO. That mixture always makes for some great fun, and Realm War #10 was no exception.
With only two issues left to go in the limited series, the war is building up to its closing days. In the previous issue, Sela and her team had banded with a group of normals and stormed the Red Queen’s HQ. Seemingly accomplishing a resounding victory, the army of light returns home for some well needed R&R. Within hours of returning, however, the queen’s death squad arrives at the human encampment and launches a deadly counter-offensive.
The art here is what I have come to expect from Zenescope. It is fine enough, but there are some miscues. Kivela does better when the camera is pulled in enough for a given character’s form to occupy the whole panel. When the character gets too far out in focal point, they can look a bit misshapen, kind of doughy, especially if it is still an action scene. I can forgive that a bit because he kills it on monsters. Having to cover so many different forms in a span of 26 pages has to be exhausting, too, so I can see why things are a bit unrefined in some panels. There is also not a ton of color variation. Araujo paints in a pretty mundane, blue-purple single tone pallet. It would be nice if the artwork could help the story out a bit, but it seems like some of those issues are here to stay.
Realm War #10 is not the best comic I have read in the series. But it is solid, well-controlled work. There are a few panels where the character’s dialogue seems to miss a line or two, as the next word bubble does not make as much sense as it seems like it should. What really makes Brusha’s work here stand out is the world building. Much like the building blocks of Once Upon a Time or League of Extraordinary Gentleman, each of the main characters brings a certain amount of fairy tale swagger along with them simply by virtue of their name. The trick here is to position them to fulfill roles and take actions that resonant with what we would expect of that character, even if there is a bit of a tragic twist thrown in.
While Sela has grown to become this iconic, do-what-must-be-done character and leader in the GFT universe, her compassion for every life expended in the name of her crusade is singularly engrained. In the span of two pages, Brusha can show her both hardened and impassioned. It is truly skillful craft and leaves a reader with a twinge of emotion as they close the final pages of this, and any other issue.
I’ve only read a couple issues of Realm War. If you have not been able to get on it for all twelve issues as they came out, I think this will read great in trade. I’m excited to see what happens next, as an unexpected ally shows up at the end of issue #10. Realm War #10 is as good a fairy tale as I’ve ever read or had read to me. This series, as well as many others that Zenescope is publishing, are excellent safe havens if you want to sit on the sidelines while DC and Marvel work out whatever they want their universes to look like.
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