Grimm's Halloween Special Succeeds in the Shorts, Stumbles with the Framing

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Grimm tales of Terror 2020 Halloween Special

Keres, Goddess of Death, hosts another GRIMM TALES OF TERROR anthology, just in time for Halloween. The horror anthology comic has long been a staple of the comic book industry -- playing a large role in what nearly killed it during the Wertham era, and then a regular go-to for twist-ending shorts from the likes of DC's HOUSE OF MYSTERY, Charlton's MIDNIGHT TALES, and PC's TWISTED TALES.

Zenescope's anthology magazine delivers a trio of terrifying tales, each of which on their own has the classic twist ending that serves up a poetic justice to those involved. The first story, drawn by Dario Tallarico, involves a man on the run from a robbery gone wrong, when a car accident gives his children the opportunity to reflect on his abusiveness and rectify matters. The middle story, drawn by Oliver Borges, is an intriguing take on the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, told in a modern setting and given a werewolf flavor. And finally, the capstone story drawn by Novo Malgapo, taps into the vengeance of an Internet troll who turns to voodoo to control the object of his online obsession, only to learn he may be in over his head.

All the stories are written by Joe Brusha, and plotted by him with Ralph Tedesco and Dave Franchini. They're a fine collection in the classic tradition of comic book horror. However, there's a downside: they're all strung together by a framework narrative, with each of the main characters coming to visit "Madame Keres" the fortune teller in New Orleans. They sit, she turns a tarot card, and we slip into their stories. I can see what the writing team was going for here, but it's a huge distraction, as the framework doesn't logically fit with the events that occur in the story. The stories have endings, and those endings sometimes preclude the ability of the character to be in Keres' parlor. This would have been better served if the team had dropped the conceit of trying to thread all three stories together and simply had our host introduce each one, a la the Cryptkeeper, or the three witches of THE WITCHING HOUR comics.

A separate quibble entirely is the narrative text of the framework. While the three interior stories follow the traditional method -- text boxes with traditional font -- the framework goes for larger, hollow letters in a stylized font, giving each panel a look less like a comic book and more like a PowerPoint slide.

Overall, the GRIMM TALES OF TERROR HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is still a nice read for those yearning for the gore and irony the comic book industry used to feed it horror-starved fans on a more regular basis. This one is on the shelves of your local comic shop now, so get your copy before the little trick-or-treaters beat you to them.

3.5 / 5.0