Panel to Panel (Grimm Fairy Tales: Age of Camelot Vol 2. Issue #13)

Zenescope Entertainment’s long running Grimm Fairy Tales series has garnered success by presenting its readers with an edgy and contemporary spin on classic fairy tales, myths, and legends. Since their founding in 2005, the series has served as one of the publisher’s flagship franchises spanning across more than 100 issues, mini-series, and spin-offs all within what they claim to be “the largest female-driven shared universe in comic books.” The series however, has not been without its fair share of controversy due to the blatant sexualization of its female protagonists that has now become a mainstay of Zenescope’s approach in order to differentiate themselves as an independent publisher. Now, with its original series wrapped up and its relaunch in full swing, the team of Joe Brusha (writer), Leo Rodrigues (artwork) and Jorge Cortes (colors) are leveraging their talents to bring the Arthurian stories of Camelot into the Grimm Universe.

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Age of Camelot, being the 13th issue of the relaunched series immediately hits the ground running with Merlin, the titular wizard in control of the book of Fairy Tales. Within its first few panels, Rodrigues and Cortes collaborative talents are on full display. The duo’s depiction of Camelot serves as a beautiful showcase of their command over contrast, light, and shadow. As Merlin walks through the famed halls of King Arthur’s court, it becomes evident that no detail was spared in bringing these locales to life as the firelight, moonlight, and mystical energies all distinctly pop against the deliberately muted backgrounds creating spaces with depth and richness.

Rodrigues and Cortes continue to shine through their panel work, which drives the concise story crafted by Brusha forward. The entirety of the issue has a driving momentum and fluidity to it that is easy to read and framed perfectly. In fact, when the three of these elements come together, the results are some of the most dynamic and fitting pages I’ve seen this year.

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Unfortunately, there are moments where the issue suffers from the same pitfalls that have plagued the series since its original run. Within the few first few pages, there is an attempt at social commentary regarding social injustice and sexism that almost seems entirely unnecessary. Furthermore, the social commentary is dismissed as quickly as it was introduced seemingly chalked up to drunken conversation between three characters, two of which remain unnamed.

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This however, doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the issue as much as the overt sexualization, which has become a trademark of the series does when it eventually presents itself. As soon as the Black Knight appears on the page, she is a force to be reckoned with, charging in heroically on horseback, taking down a group of terrorists with ease and flair with clear nods to scenes from DC’s Wonder Woman. The art in this scene is amazing, capturing each and every gritty detail of the action, which unfortunately includes the incredibly impractical scantily clad armor she’s doing it in. It’s the type of contrast that although well executed from a visual perspective detracts from the weight and intensity of the situation and the character.

Luckily, this is really the only place in which the sexualization is a bit heavy-handed. The rest of the issue is a wonderfully fast paced introduction to new threats, a perfectly presented villain in Morgan, and left me wondering about what Merlin is truly up to and why the traditionally good wizard is in fact up to no good. The last few pages also left me wondering about how the completely average citizens that have now assumed the identities of these fantastical individuals are affected by the mystical energies released by Merlin and how that will come into play as this arc continues to play out.

Overall, Age of Camelot serves as an honest and shining example of the quality content that Zenescope publishes. Brusha, Rodrigues, and Cortes really are firing on all cylinders here and do a phenomenal job at setting the tone for the series, providing exposition without bogging the reader down with details and lore while still presenting a fresh and visually stunning take on these Arthurian characters. Also, as someone who isn’t entirely caught up on the Grimm Universe, this issue works as a fantastic point to jump in as you really don’t need a lot of previous context to understand what’s going on. So, if you haven’t given the series a chance, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try, because it turns out even when life’s a little Grimm, it can still make you smile.

All Quotes and images taken from the following;