Grimm Tales of Terror Delivers Twist, But Not Surprise

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Grimm Tales of Terror #6, Cover Art by Giuseppe Cafaro, Simone Di Meo and Ylenia Di Napoli

Monster Underneath
Writer: Shane McKenzie
Artwork: Claudia Balboni

 

The notion of a monster under the bed is, perhaps, one of the oldest bogeyman tropes in horror -- specifically because it's one of the most prevalent childhood fears.

Young Mindy is an orphan who is convinced that her bed harbors a slathering creature, and the other boys in the orphanage take advantage of her fears to torment her. But when Mindy's paradigm is challenged by her older foster sister, Rose, it puts a twist into the story that changes the dynamics of the relationship between Mindy and her monster.

Shane McKenzie's story has its ups and downs. It's established as a framework, with the adult Mindy having a first date. We immediately know the guy is a boor, so his intentions are quickly telegraphed to the reader.

Likewise, in the framed tale of Mindy as a child, the character of the orphanage caretaker is likewise telegraphed, but in a more subtle way, allowing the reader to suspect that perhaps he really is a nice guy. When his true colors are revealed, it's less of a shock than it is a confirmation of niggling suspicions.

Claudia Balboni's artwork works for the inner story, with the dual worlds of children's cruelty and helplessness. For the bookends, however, it flattens, with the characters losing their emotional displays. Mindy seems unnaturally stiff while on her date, gaining some comic book dynamics only in the last panels.

Overall, the story works but could have better set the reader up for surprises instead of giving all the hints up front. That's part of what made EC and other horror anthologies of the past so successful -- any hints were so subtle, if they were given at all, that they were only obvious upon re-reading. And that's what I'd love to see GRIMM TALES OF TERROR evolve into, and what I see it as having the ripe potential to become. Previous issues have achieved this, but this one just falls a little bit short in its delivery.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0