Grimm Fairy Tales presents Sleepy Hollow #1
by Dan Wickline Review
(Released October 10th, 2012)
CAUTION: SPOILERS LIE HEREIN
Originally I had written this review as my first, but put it aside when Hurricane Sandy came to my wonderful state of New Jersery. Since then, Halloween was cancelled in NJ from it’s original date due to safety reasons, and postponed until Monday November 5th. While I can understand that Halloween is the furthest thing from a vast majority of us hit by the hurricane’s minds, I still kept with the spirit of Halloween for my kids. Also, since Halloween is “technically” still approaching, I figured what would be best suited for the delayed/upcoming pseudo holiday? Easy answer, Zenescope Entertainment’s re-telling of the classic horror-esque tale ‘Sleepy Hollow’.
We all know the tale in some way shape or form, whether we know the entire story or just memorable character names from it like The Headless Horsemen, or Ichabod Crane. But we all know of it. I myself have traveled to Tarry Town, NY to visit the small town of Sleepy Hollow…though I visited it during the day so it didn’t quite have the effect I was hoping. But I digress.
Zenescope Entertainment has made a killing and quite a name for themselves by taking fairy tales, children’s tales, folklore (and now Greek Mythology) and re-envisioning it for a more modern, adult audience. With underlying themes of betrayal, love, etc. turning them into psychological thrillers in the fashion of such movies as Saw, where morality is constantly tested and the consequences of one’s choices/actions always get faced head on (pun intended). Needless to say, hearing about them re-imagining a tale that the imagination already twists into something more horrifying than it already is definitely intrigued me.
I’d say be aware that there are spoilers in this, but in the same rite it is a tale we all know the outcome of already. So while I do talk about the story itself, and tell you how this issue ends, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a spoiler since we all know what the end result would be if you recall the original story.
Introduction: “In the small town of Tarry Town, New York, the story of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow has become something of myth and legend. And this legend is about to become all too real.
“Student aid, Craig Marsters, seems to have the world at his fingertips. He has a great head on his shoulders, a beautiful girlfriend and an all-too bright future. But there are those in this world who choose to take from others rather than earn their own way in life. And Craig finds he’s in the crosshairs of those very people.”
That introduction alone to the book gave me chills! I also like the play on words in saying that lead protagonist Craig has a great head on his shoulders, hilarious foreshadowing.
The first three pages are set in Tarry Town, NY circa 1775. It appears to be during the Revolutionary War, two soldiers are carrying away a man then chop of his head. We don’t know why, all we know of is that one of the soldiers says, “You should’ve known better, John.” Known what? Did he speak out of line? Did he see something he wasn’t supposed to and was going to speak on it?
Jump to modern day, well 2005, at Tarrytown University, where lead character Craig is awakening from a nightmare. We get a brief glimpse at his home life in which he has a lazy room-mate named Ty. Craig is the brains, the straight-laced, no nonsense type of guy; whereas Ty comes of as the mooching sports guy asking about a party on a Tuesday night. One can only assume that this is a problematic living situation.
Craig then meets Brian, a benched player on the basketball team with failing grades that Craig is assigned to tutor because if his grades plummet then he loses his scholarship, which also means no basketball. Craig mentions he has a love of American history, that his great, great grandfather was in the Revolutionary War and he owns the sword used from that time. Ever the stereotype, Brian refuses to want to learn anything and attempts to make a deal with Craig about just giving him the answers to the test. Of course Craig refuses this offer.
One set of dialogue I found that definitely sparked my interest:
Brian: …what do you want? Ecstasy? Pot? Women?
Craig: …And I have a girlfriend, Katie. And we’re very happy together.
Brain: I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
Cool transition as we now see Craig meeting up with, literature major girlfriend Katie for lunch that he is late for. While on his lunch date with Katie, we see that Craig is mysteriously hearing voices that keep repeating the word ‘betrayed’. Katie tells Craig that she will be in attendance at a party that night which Ty mentioned earlier in the issue, as she leaves she drops a piece of paper. Craig reads it, but nothing is revealed to us.
It is the evening now, we are at the party that Katie and Ty were previously talking about, we see Katie talking with one of her girlfriends. She makes mention about losing something that she was writing. However her friend and her talk about something else:
Friend: …did you take care of that?
Katie: No, not yet. I was going to but…
Friend: You chickened out. Probably for the best. You have to be certain before you do something like that.
Katie; No, I’m certain. It’s just so very final.
Enter Craig at the party. He runs into Ty, and they search for Katie, both convinced that the paper she dropped & they read is a suicide note. Their search through the party is interrupted by Brian and other team mates of the basketball team, an argument between Craig and Brian over the incidents from that morning begins & ends just as fast as Craig gets hit in the head/face with a beer bottle.
We are now outside somewhere within Tarry Town. The basketball team, Ty included, has tied up and placed Craig on what they thought were unused railroad tracks. As a train approaches, Brian bullies Craig into conceding and agrees to get the answers for Brian’s test. After he agrees to it, Ty begins to untie Craig but Craig falls back onto the train tracks head first as the train rushes by.
Sneak peak into Issue #2: The basketball teammates that were involved agree to keep it all a secret ala ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’(and we all know THAT ended well). Sela Mathers (lead character in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe) shows up on campus and tells the tale of ‘The Headless Horseman’, coincidentally (well, not really) as a body returns to collect the heads of those responsible for taking his.
Being the first issue I knew that this would end with the lead character losing his head, I just didn’t know how it was going to happen or what would lead to it happening, and I am very pleased with the results. I like their use of foreshadowing, like using a flashback of the Revolutionary War in which John loses his head as a nightmare to set the stages for the remainder of the issue; the fact that it’s revealed later that Craig has ties to the Revolutionary War which can only tell us that his nightmare was more of a vision or memory, that maybe the legend of the Headless Horsemen isn’t necessarily a legend but truth and quite a possibly some sort of lineage in the Marsters bloodline! But what did great-great grandfather John do or know that could apply to Craig? What lesson should John have learned that will aid Craig in his tale? Will we see John or an mirage/ghost of John coming back along with Craig so that John can live vicariously through Craig in their quest for revenge?
I enjoy that it showcases bullying as the means of why he loses his head because this story will further show revenge on those bullies. Not saying that those who are bullied should take the heads off their bullies in a literal sense obviously, but in a metaphorical sense it is telling us to stand up for ourselves to those who are wronging and hurting us. A subject that not only us as comic book nerds can relate to, but people as whole at this point.
While we know the main plot is going to be Craig returning as the Headless Horsemen for revenge on the basketball team, I am VERY interested in the sub-plots of this story!
What is Katie’s deal? From the opening pages between the dialogue of Craig and Brian it seems obvious that he knows something that Craig doesn’t, regarding Katie and the happiness in the relationship. But what? The voices Craig hears all say ‘betrayed’, so one could assume Katie is cheating. But then, WOAH, curveball! Katie and her friend begin talking of a definitive ending and chickening out on something that needs to be done. Are they talking about her ending her relationship with Craig? Is it something deeper, like did she cheat with someone, get pregnant and her & her friend are speaking of an abortion? If she did in fact cheat, was it with someone on the football team since Brian seems to know something is up? What was written on that paper of Katie’s that Craig read: was it in fact a suicide note or was it a work of fiction she was writing since she is a Literature student? If it was a suicide note, then could that be what Katie and her friend were talking about…but why would your friend be 100% supportive of you killing yourself? What if this was all a great big scheme! What if Katie and Brian were secretly together and he plotted with her to drop that paper which would cause Craig to attend the party he didn’t want to so that Brian and the basketball team could gang up on him?
Let’s also not forget the sub-story of Ty. Though he is the total opposite of Craig he obviously cares about him as a friend when he agrees to help Craig look for Katie at the party. He doesn’t get involved in the argument at the party between his friend and his fellow teammates; but he does participate in tying Craig to the train tracks, so Ty obviously has some underlying issues and hostility towards Craig, but what? While Ty was the one to untie Craig, in the artwork it’s hard to tell once Craig is untied, if Craig stumbles & falls or if Ty pushes him back onto the train tracks. Though Ty is yelling ‘No!’ as Craig lands head first onto the train tracks, who knows! While Ty seems to be a friend, he is peer pressured into doing things by his teammates. But this is also what makes me wonder, if the sub-plots of this story are going to be revolved around Brian, Ty and Katie, what are their connections? Should we actually be wondering about Ty and Katie? They’d obviously have more of a connection with each other because of Craig being the room mate/boyfriend, and Brian being on the team with Ty would know all the dirt with the other players and knows something about Katie. I am definitely interested to have all my questions answered and finding out how these three people are linked!
The interior artwork for this is good for a first issue, to set the pace of an origin. All points get across, especially with facial expressions which is something I feel is VERY important in comic book art. There are no fine details for foreshadowing to notice since it is just the beginning. I do hope that as the issues go further along we see more darker tones with the art. The story of the Headless Horseman is a gruesome one, again one that our imagination takes to disturbing places, and I am crossing my fingers that the artist/colorist take the art in this comic to that level of horrifying, gore-filled, ‘Faces of Death’ style.
Note: It didn’t receive five nerds because again, being a first issue we all knew how the main plot was going to end (the only unfortunate downfall to re-visioning stories that people have a pretty good grasp of already).
It is the ‘how’ it got to the obvious ending, the main plot involving the subject of bullying which is a major issue in today’s society, and the mysterious unanswered sub-plots that make and keep it at a good solid four. It’s those key elements that had me nose-deep into the issue and it is those things that will keep me reading.