Breaking In! with Grimm Fairy Tales #34: Puss in Boots

Grimm Fairy Tales #34: Puss in Boots

Marcio Abreu (pencils), Gary Henderson (colourist), Bernie Lee (letterer), Dan Wickline (writer)

Technically, this isn’t the first time I’ve jumped into Grimm Fairy Tales. Reimagined fairy tales are a passing interest to me, but those… those covers. Yeesh.

Cover for Grimm Fairy Tales #34: Puss in Boots - Marcio Abreu (pencils), Gary Henderson (colourist), Bernie Lee (letterer), Dan Wickline (writer), Zenescope 2009 - A woman dressed in skimpy Egyptian styled attire sits on a throne with a panther roaring at her feet
Actually, this is one of the tamer Grimm covers, though the variants are far more well-rounded. Plus, part of my formative years of comic collecting were spent in Image Comics’ ’90s bad girl phase. I’ve learned about judging a book by its large-breasted cover, which is why I tested the waters of Grimm Fairy Tales several years ago, but was still hesitant to take the plunge.

With my first introduction, I discovered that the buxom babe on the cover didn’t exactly match the more subdued art and the surprisingly meaningful and well-written stories. That book was a collection of reimagined fairy tales, each starting in the real world with a young woman (or man) facing a big problem in their lives. They are each approached by a mysterious figure with a book of fairy tales who turns the page to a story relevant to their personal issues, the moral of which helps them with their decisions about their futures. The tales follow their standard course, but twist things up, sometimes in very dark ways, before revealing their moral punchline.

In the issue randomly selected for this review series, a young woman named Stephanie is invited to dinner by an eccentric aunt whom she doesn’t often hear from. Her aunt has a simple favour to ask of Stephanie: look after her priceless Egyptian statue while her house is being renovated. When her aunt departs, Stephanie examines the statue and learns of its history from a woman who happens to be hanging out nearby and clearly knows a lot about antiquities.

Panel art for Grimm Fairy Tales #34: Puss in Boots - Marcio Abreu (pencils), Gary Henderson (colourist), Bernie Lee (letterer), Dan Wickline (writer), Zenescope 2009 - A cat-headed statue of a man wearing boots
What’s not to love about a cat statue wearing Wellingtons? What’s not to trust about it? But where the original Puss in Boots tale I remember simply involved a conniving cat helping its owner into princedom, this statue has a much, much darker promotion process—and everything has a price.

Dan Wickline writes this particular tale, and I’d already come to appreciate his work through The Freeze. He packs a lot into this short story. The connection to Puss in Boots is almost cursory, in that the statue does indeed wear those dazzling boots and those who wield its power gain in rank, but the temptation of immortality takes the story down a deadlier path.

The art in this issue does lean a bit more into the buxom babes style, with everyone of a certain age group painted into tight tops and jeans. You know Stephanie’s aunt is older because she dresses more modestly. When the tale hops back to the Egyptian history of the statue, we’re presented with mostly pale-skinned, brown-haired people, differentiated by slightly warmer colouring than the cooler tones of the modern characters.

As before, the story here is self-contained, so there’s no stress about not understanding the context, even if unfamiliar with the particular fairy tale it’s based on. But in my furtive skirting around the edges of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales pool, I’ve also become aware of the fact that there are some ongoing storylines that connect several of the major characters like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and more. That still leaves me intimidated, though temptation, I confess, has already led me to purchase the colouring book box set…

Having now tried out two books in this series and found them both enjoyable, I feel like I’m ready to take on what the full series has to offer. The accessible nature of the self-contained stories I’ve read imply that it’s easy to jump in—or out —at any point. And the notion that there is indeed an ongoing story arc that twists classic fairy tales into something dark and mysterious is like an enticing red apple that looks so very tasty… How convenient that the first three volumes of the omnibus are on sale on Comixology.

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Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.