Artwork-Joe Sanchez Diaz
Colors-Fran Gamboa with J.C. Ruiz
We begin at a service station. It’s a dark, cold and snowy, desolate area. An angry, disheveled man is standing inside at the counter, counting what little money he has to see if he can afford a bus ticket for the soon departing bus outside PLUS his much needed pack of cigarettes. Realizing he can’t, he opts for the pack of smokes and pays.
Now, let’s cut away from our story for a minute for some quick background information. In most Grimm Tales of Terror there is s redhead that tends to pop up at the beginning of the story and interact with our main character, sometimes offering life advice. In this issue, she’s the gal behind the counter at the service station. And right on cue, she offers our man some free advice, which he does not want to receive, but he humors her. (I mean, the chick DID just sell him his nicotine fix.) Her genius advice…what he does today will affect the rest of his life (she sounds like those vague horoscopes or Miss Cleo). He blows her off with an enormous attitude and exits the store, thinking to himself that this chick is nuts.
He’s a very hostile, bitter man. It’s made obvious that this man oozes negativity like an infected wound. No doubt he has some valid reasons for being such a loathsome human being (I’m sure we all do.) however, he seems to be making this not just an attitude but, an entire lifestyle and mantra. As he’s walking outside to smoke he’s complaining to himself about how his life sucks, how he’s never had much good luck and how he needs a change, warmer weather, sunny days…something better than the deep winter he seems to be stuck in. That’s why he wants on that bus. Yet he doesn’t have a ticket. While standing outside smoking he watches some of the bus passengers mosey into the station for snacks and restroom breaks. When one passenger, a grown man, enters the bathroom, he hangs his coat up on a hook on the wall so he can go into one of the stalls. Our guy sees this, ceases the opportunity and steals the coat. Next, we see him smoothly joining the crowd boarding the bus again. A large man in front of him smiles really big and hollers back to him that “Pete is going to Disneyland!” Our newcomer doesn’t care and rolls his eyes saying, “Good for Pete.” and boards the bus. He sits down and as the bus takes off down the road, he drifts to sleep dreaming of his next stop…Florida.
He awakes to find sunlight beaming through the window and warming his face. He looks out the window and sees snow…SNOW?! He immediately perks up realizing that Southern Florida doesn’t have snow. Still as he looks out the window it remains the white winter wonderland he so desperately wanted to leave behind. (So much for beaches, bikinis and Pina Coladas.) He scans the other passengers in the light of day and realizes that they don’t appear to be on a Disneyland vacation bus. He looks out the window again just in time to see a sign…a wrought iron sign hanging eerily above a wrought iron gate. It reads, “EASTMAN SANITORIUM”. (Uh oh.)
Needless to say, our fella loses his cool and starts freaking out right there in the bus before it even comes to a stop. As he’s hooting and hollering about how “This is NOT Florida!” others on the bus are doing their own thing…talking to themselves out loud, randomly singing, hiding from people that aren’t there…seems like a real bunch of tortured minds. He sprints to the bus door only to be blocked by the robust man in a uniform that was driving the bus. Then, men in nice, clean, pressed white coats show up and assist the driver in subduing our worried, out of control passenger. Crying out that he’s NOT crazy, he sees a woman approaching…a prepped syringe in hand. She quickly injects him in the shoulder and shortly…he’s out like a light.
He wakes up sometime later, he doesn’t know how long, strapped to a hospital bed. A blonde nurse is examining his eyes and writing things down on a chart attached to a clipboard. She asks him, “Mr. Carey? How are you feeling today?” He pleads frantically with her to let him up; that there’s been a mistake, that’s not his name, that he doesn’t belong where he is. She clears things up really fast…”There sure has been a mistake. You’ve been a bad boy and now you need to be punished.” He begs for his release. “After treatment I PROMISE you’re going to go to general population. We just need to settle you down a bit.” and she puts a small cylindrical object in his mouth between his teeth to prevent him biting off his tongue. We see two guys with a machine on a cart in the background. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! The blonde is standing behind the machine on the cart and flipping the switch. Our poor soul is belted to this bed and this chick is electrocuting him…and she’s enjoying it! She sends the high powered voltage through him until he can’t take it anymore and passes out from the pain.
We see him sitting in a chair, incapacitated and zombie-like, being fed pills, getting injections, sprayed violently with a fire hose (that hurts, by the way), chased…just existing in a world of demonic depravity. He tries to escape and he is put in a strait jacket and locked in a padded room.
They let him out of the seclusion room and put him back out with the other patients. They are grating on his nerves. They have been since he’s been there. He can’t take it…the incessant singing, the constant medication, the wild environment…he snaps. He throws a glass into the face of the singer in the room. It shatters upon impact causing the singing patient to fall down and staff members to pour into the room. This is his chance…our man makes a break for it. He runs through the long institutional hallways, down many flights of stairs, with eager staff members racing behind him to catch up. And then he sees it…the door…the door to the outside…where he belongs…where he longs to be…his hand outstretched…so close…almost touching the handle…there…and…Tackled from behind by a burly male staff member that would give Paul Bunyan a run for his money. Subdued by a “roided out” arm putting him in a choke hold, the staff finally gets our guy hogtied. The doctor shows up and requests he be sent to the operating room at once.
The doctor converses with his nurse, explaining to her the severity of the behavior at hand and that they need to try something new with this particular patient. When she asks him what he has in mind, he tells her “a frontal lobotomy.” He justifies this further by explaining that he has long been waiting to try this procedure.
Our bad boy…”AAAH!”
They strap him back down to a hospital bed. They put something in his mouth again. The doctor approaches with a needle. Our poor boy prays to God as the doc brings the needle closer and closer to his left eye.
Just then there is a knock at the door and a man in a suit and tie peeks in and requests to speak to the doctor. They exchange a few words and then all of a sudden the doctor instructs the restraints to be removed from our man and to let him go.
The man in the suit speaks, “Mr. Gates? You are here by mistake.” Mr. Gates?! That’s his name! This guy knows who he is! The suit leads Gates out into the hall. They are met by two more men in suits…with badges. They inform our Mr. Norman Gates that he is under arrest…for the murder…of David Carey.
Gates starts to protest and then it hits him…THIS is no mistake. He thinks back and remembers…the guy in the bathroom at the service station…David Carey. That guy wouldn’t just give Gates his coat. He wishes he would have…but, he just wouldn’t. So Gates ripped the plaque of hooks from the bathroom wall and beat Carey to death with it. After all, he was cold, homeless; in such a bad way…he did what he had to do. Mr. Gates is taken to court and sent to…The EASTMAN MENTAL INSTITUTION for evaluation and until he’s deemed competent for trial. Gates has a horrible outburst in court and is hauled out screaming “NO!” fearing his return to perceived Hell.
We then see this poor, depressed shell of a man getting pushed in a wheelchair down a hall and into a room. The doctor and blonde nurse are standing by the room’s doorway, smiling evilly. He asks the nurse pushing the wheelchair to make Mr. Gates comfortable…because they have a procedure to finish with him.
Gates reminds himself he’s never had much luck…and resides with the fact that what little luck he DID have, just ran out.
I, personally, LOVE the Grimm Tales of Terror series. These stories are always quality reading. They move quickly, keep you on edge and these writers at Zenescope Entertainment Inc. really know how to pack a lot of punch. In this particular issue, I enjoyed the idea that we had no name for our main character, which was developed in a genius way, in a matter of frames. The consistent appearance of our mysterious redheaded woman is also a valuable foreshadowing tool that allows us as the reader to know that something sinister is coming. I also always enjoy the twist, if there is one.
The artwork is usually very excellent in this series as well. If you don’t like the “pin-up” version of the female form then, you probably won’t care much for the art involving female characters but, these artists really do have mad skills. The chilling, yet gorgeous, women in these comic books are shockingly pretty, eerily creepy and can definitely give you the willies. The artists accomplish great work in conveying every emotion and thought of the characters we meet. The colors and type of scheme vary issue to issue, of course. In this issue, the colorist keeps the pigment muted and almost drab. It really helps the depressive and institutional aspect of the story line. All in all, a very good issue to read.