Review - Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition

"The popcorn is for decoration, not eating."

What's a good holiday gathering without some prerequisites? Hot cider, mistletoe, a tree and good company. Most of those pretty much go without saying, but spicing things up a bit with stories of holiday lore is always a good time. Stories such as those of Krampus--the anti-Santa Claus--told in Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition from Zenescope Entertainment. The story by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco and Pat Shand is written by Anne Toole, illustrated by Butch Mapa, colored by Hedwin Zaldivar and Valentina Pinto and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Every year, Krampus surfaces during the holidays to punish humans most deserving his wrath. However, the being known to bring death on Christmas wasn’t always a vengeful killer. The origin of the most feared and ruthless monster of the holiday season is finally revealed. Of course, it just so happens to involve Sela at some level as well, which is to be expected for a book like this.

Books that are part of Zenescope's take on the Grimm Fairy Tales universe come with little surprises and Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition is no exception. Toole's script fits right in within the universe, bringing together many of the familiar characters who have defined it to this point. Most of the issue is told as a holiday tale by Sela to others and it moves rather deftly between historical tale and present day. The origin of Krampus is one born out of evil, which is pretty much what you would expect from a being such as he. The issue does tie into the larger universe and seems to lay the groundwork for a future holiday issue as well, which is a little disappointing for a one-shot like this.

The illustrations in the book are pretty simplistic, with Mapa eschewing detail for basic character presentations. Some of the facial expressions border on the absurd and look as if they're drawing upon an anime inspiration. There are quite a few crowd scenes that feel sufficiently inhabited, as Mapa does a great job conveying the crowd mood appropriate for the scene. Colors by Zaldivar and Pinto also do a great job of showcasing things like time of day or general festivities. The coloring also helps the reader to keep up with some of the jumps in and out of Sela's telling of the Krampus story.

Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition is a one-shot that offers a seasonal take on characters who are otherwise dealing with less than cheerful circumstances. Making it about Krampus effectively allows them to maintain a connection to that universe, but at the same time it feels as if the one-shot is being used as another vehicle to advance overarching storylines. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but Toole's script for a holiday issue feels like it should be a bit more isolated in a sense and less serious. Mapa's illustrations are pretty low-key, presenting a Krampus who's somewhat terrifying and villagers who appear to be Nordic inspired. Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition is definitely for hardcore fans of the Zenescope universe, as those who aren't too familiar with that canon may feel a little confused.

Grimm Fairy Tales 2014 Holiday Edition is in stores now.