Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

We all know the 1812 German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.  The story about a brother and sister kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch who cleverly escape by outwitting their captor. Zenescope, under writer Ben Meares and artist Allan Otero, reimagine Gretel’s origins and the consequence of the choices she has made over the past 300 years. 


The year is 1688 when an American man, Samuel, falls in love with a witch named Tituba. The couple quickly relocated to Salem, Massachusetts where their marriage remained a secret due to their different skin colors. During this time Tituba gave Samuel a piece of her heart to grant him similar powers she possessed as a witch. As time went on Tituba granted more pieces of her heart to other women as a means to liberate them from their confines. As more women were granted this power the people of Salem became fearful of these powers and began burning witches at the stake. This forced Samuel and Tituba to move to Germany where they would not be hunted and could live peacefully. 

Once in Germany Tituba begins plotting her revenge on humanity, which is to eliminate the majority of humanity and enslave the rest. In order to do this Tituba needs to find a person who can hunt down and consume the witches she has created. One day Hansel and Gretel are captured by Tituba, who kills Hansel and starves Gretel with the sole purpose of making her eat her brother’s heart. Once Gretel eats Hansel’s heart she will gain powers similar to that of a witch along with a hatred of their kind creating the desire to kill them all and consume their power. Unknown to Gretel and Samuel, who trained her to use her powers, this was part of Tituba’s plan. After Gretel consumed enough witches Tituba would eat Gretel’s heart and combine it with her own power to enact her revenge on humanity. 

After 274 years, countless witch hunting and power absorbing, and not knowing the name of the witch who killed her brother, Gretel is thrown into a final conflict with the witch that created her, Tituba, to determine the fate of humanity and possibly get a piece of revenge for the life she had to suffer through. 


Zenescope’s latest graphic novel, Gretel, has reimagined the classic fairy tale for a new generation. This is done through providing the backstory of the witch Tituba who started out having sympathy for humanity, but eventually seeks revenge upon them for killing her fellow witches. Yet, in order to carry out her revenge Tituba needs to create a witch who could track down and absorb other witches’ powers. After waiting several decades, she found Hansel and Gretel and continued her plan by killing Hansel and granting Gretel witch-based powers. Throughout this process we begin to see that Tituba is not evil but rather believes what she is doing is an end to a means allowing generation of witches to live in peace at the cost of only a few. Conversely, Gretel viewpoint is different as she was kidnapped, starved to near death, and forced to eat her brother’s heart and then cursed with witch powers. In response Gretel wants revenge against Tituba for the death of her brother and for the powers she does not want. It is not until Gretel meets Samuel who begins to train her that she begins to redirect her powers on killing witches as a means of getting revenge. In many ways, this reveals that Gretel was initially the victim, but has far exceed that status and is not innocent. Furthermore, Gretel only has one goal and that is to enact her revenge on Tituba and every other witch that gets in the way of plan. This creates an interesting dynamic between Tituba who uses Gretel to try to save an entire species and Gretel who is part of that species, doesn’t care, and wants to kill Tituba for using her. Thus, you are torn between Gretel and Tituba as they both have justifications for wanting to kill the other. The stakes between the two has never been higher as either humanity will survive or the witch species will be revitalized.

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Gretel consists of five volumes in total and is gonna be published in paperback February 2020. I never encountered Ben Meares's work but I must say I was impressed. His art style is vivid, detailed and well drawn. The only problem people might point out is oversexualized portrayal of women (aka heir clothes). I understand it was probably targeted at male audience, but I personally enjoy some girl power as well (and I don't need my heroines running around in tight clothes). It didn't bother as much as some other reviewers though. 

Plotwise, we are following Gretel's path of revenge, leading up to final battle with with who killed her brother and turned Gretel into witch herself. I overall enjoyed all of the flashbacks and little side stories that created the whole picture. It got kind of repetetive in a while though and I wouldn't mind if Gretel focused on something else. I appreciate different types of witch and their abilites, I think it made a story more compelling and interesting. We also got a lot of action. 

Author focuses on characters a lot. First of all, Gretel. I really enjoyed the way her character progressed in centuries and how everything turned out in the end. It's a nice way to show how revenge might blind you. As for side characters, we don't get that many, but it's still enough. Gretel's archnemesis was the most interesting part of whole series for me - her reasoning and why she seeked what she did was challenging. 

In the end, I would recommend Gretel to any comics fan who likes a strong female lead with a little bit of fanservice and lots and lots of witches. Modern take on classic fairytale gone right.
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Some of these fairy tale revamps really hit their mark while some splat like rotten tomatoes.  Being a avid fairy tale reader I was disappointed in Gretel and DNF at 25 pages.  

The back story was too in depth at first, so no character growth or paced reveal.  Illustration are quick and lack quality.  Gretel wears the same outfit (unfit for someone in her line of work and revealing for the sake of being revealing) through centuries of witch hunting which is lazy and unbelievable.  Plus yadda, yadda, darkness, yadda, yadda, identity... we get it.  It doesn't need to be repeated every 2 pages.

Gretel is not worth the time or effort to read.
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Gretel by Ben Meares is a free NetGalley e-comicbook that I read in early December.

This comic has the feel of an otherworldly, supernatural Gen-X, at least in its art style, where the title character is cursed into immortality by the witch from the Grimm's fairytale, then gifted with the power to manipulate runes and take down evil spirits, particularly in New Orleans during the present day. It's all very, very colorful, yet its bopping back and forth through time and space confuses the story so much that, although the concept is strong, it’s not at all stable, nor can it stand on its own.
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Gretel is like the second book I have read from the Zenescope line of comics. The story of Gretel is a unique take on the fairytale as Gretel is a monstrous witch who hunts monstrous witches. The art is nice and smooth and the premise of the story is promising. But... the dialogue seems to be missing something and a lot gets lost in the details. This story is okay not memorable but not terrible either. I'm on the fence on if I would read more in this series, it could go either way depending on the blurb and reviews from the next book. My voluntary, unbiased review is based on a review copy from Netgalley.
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This was an enjoyable read. If you like magic, action, and witches this is a graphic novel for you. It is a fun/unique spin off of Hansel and Gretel.
Thank you NetGalley and Zenescope for a  ecopy of the Graphic Novel for my honest review.
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ARC Copy...interesting take on the Gretal of "Hansel and Gretal" however even eating hearts to gain super powers is her main "quirk"...they goes my stomach!
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Gretel isn't the little girl of the fairytale... She's a witch hunter with witch power. She's saved by a man that trained her to fight witches and eat their hearts for assimilated their powers. Years after years, centuries passed and Gretel has saved so many people from the evil witches (sometimes she didn't like in the WW2) but the only one who really matter seems to be "disappeared".
When her mentor - Samuel - seems to be killed, she will do everything possible to prevent it.
Meanwhile, we can see even Gretel's past and discover her background and new characters.

The plot is intriguing, the "darkness" in this serie is one of my favorite things.
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This is a story of witches. Or at least one that doesn't want to be. "Gretel" revolves around... well, Gretel (yep, the one with the brother and the witch, or at least one with the same name, also a brother and also a witch that wants to eat them... or at least their heart), a woman that became a witch hunter around three hundred years ago, after she and her brother were kidnapped (and the brother killed; back then she was just a child). Gretel was saved and then trained by a random guy with a beard and then, after she had become strong enough, started to rid the world of all those bad women of yore. However, after a while, you get tired of killing witches, and the same happened to Gretel. We find her in America, having given up on killing witches... or not exactly, because lately witches are trying to hunt her down. Why? And she has also had a vision that says her former mentor is going to be killed. Gretel will not allow this.

"Gretel" is an entertaining comic, with interesting characters (even though the bad are very bad and the good kind of bad too) and a simple but non-stop plot that never becomes boring, and keeps the reader turning the pages. It is actually so simple that sometimes one would desire a little bit more to chew on.

The only couple of downsides are a tendency for the story to travel in time that becomes a little bit too much the umpteenth time we are sent two hundred years ago for four or five pages of background, or the tendency of the story to add a lot of exposition to this. Luckily for us, the atmosphere, the darkness, the violence, the characters, more than make up for this shortcomings.

The drawing style fits perfectly the story, even if some of the strips make sometimes for difficult reading. It is clear, it develops well the action and it conveys the story perfectly. It is also attractive. However, as always, we could make a couple of commentaries around the choice of clothing of the females here, but that is not something only this comic is guilty of.

A guilty pleasure waiting to be read.
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I am unable to view the book via Pocketbook, Therefore the rating is based on the cover. Happy reading to those who are able to fulfill the book.
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Overall, a pretty interesting take on an old fable. The artwork is beautiful. I felt there was too much time spent on flashbacks that only convoluted the pages. If the series had started off at the beginning of Gretel's story from issue one, sticking to one time period an issue and then, each issue subsequently after taking place at one important time period in Gretel's life that proved important to the advancement of the story as a whole; then this series might have been better. Taking more time to flesh it out,adding more pages/story to each issue for it not to of felt as rushed as it did would also have benefited the series more. What killed this series was a great big idea that got simplified by it being cut and shrunk down to a slither of itself.
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trigger warning
[kidnapping of children, cannibalism, gore, slavery, holocaust]

After all these years, witch hunter Gretel is reunited with her mentor, only to realise that someone's trying to murder them - in a more coordinated manner than she is used to.

Gretel is the Gretel of Hänsel and Gretel fame. I can't get used to the english spelling Hansel, but that's hardly something I can fault the comic for.

What I can fault the people who made it for is the optics. What's with martial arts people and leather trousers in media? Ever tried to wear one of these? It's restricting your movements. Also, if you wear a trouser that sits directly on your hip bones so you can hint at your genitalia, it's neither comfortable nor allows for freedom of movement. I know it's a genre thing, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Another thing I really didn't like that the good guys are blond and have blue eyes and the villain is a PoC without playing with clichées. Nope. It's simply the bad evil witch doing bad evil things. And she is dark skinned because dark skinned people do bad and evil things. ...really?

Apart from that, we could talk about the narrative. Which is tell, don't show. Gretel's inner voice narrates everything, up to the point where she summs up what's happening right now so nobody has to say it. That's bad story telling.

After writing all this down, I think I have to go from two stars to one star. I am sorry, but that's how it is.

I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have to say, despite the way the women in Zenescope's series dress, these do make good stories. Heck, the designs aren't even worth a nitpick. I've seen a few architectural design flaws like a hatch that almost looks like it was broken off when it was really just open, but that's minor stuff. The character art really makes these mistakes feel secondary.

The writing meanwhile is definitely a positive. I've seen a lot of comics from this company that just show these dark "good girls" driven by their traumas or a purpose that loses its meaning. Here though, the title character Gretel shows a step away from the usual. She's burned out and feels the years bearing on her. It's a little surprising to see how the character from the original Grimm Fairy Tales Zenescope series is given a re-rendition. Here, she is a witch hunter wanting to get back at the witch who cursed her. That curse meanwhile brought her to a caregiver who she had to separate from. Unlike most Zenescope character, Gretel got the love that she needed to continue living. But being separated from him and a life of trauma ends up making her feel isolated.

When the witches are on the attack, Gretel has to reunite with her father figure Samuel. But there are no times for reunions when the witch behind Gretel's curse makes her move. During the journey, Gretel confronts her isolation several times. Quietness doesn't suit her since all it does is bring bad memories. The most significant however comes from a modern witch hunter codenamed Calabar. Witches adapt to times and Calabar was almost one of their victims of children farming. While Gretel was feeling sorry for herself, the witches thrived.

The ending certainly was satisfying. Overall despite the tragedies and dourness, this series is a little more lighter than the usual Zenescope romp. It's certainly a step in the right direction from the publisher's beginning.
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A modern day interpretation of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale set in the Grimm's Comic Universe. While the artwork is serviceable for its content, it relies too much on fanservice and attempted shock factor at times. The story itself is fairly linear, with no great stride or risks taken in terms of narrative exploration. The main audience for this title are teenage boys that seek visual titillation rather than a well crafted story. You can almost see the likelihood this graphic novel being adapted as a movie shown on a streaming service. There is no subtext, which helps its appeal with its main demographic.
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Monologue Much?

This is a well drawn series, with good lines, inking and colors. Everything is crisp and sharp, characters are reasonably expressive, and you always know where you are and what's happening. Best of all, we have an attractive and feisty heroine who doesn't have to look like pinup cheesecake in absolutely every panel.  Cursed, witch hunting Gretel is a more interesting and fully formed heroine than usual, and even her angsty bits are fairly novel. Her banter and wisecracking has its moments and we don't just get a catalogue of cliches.

That said, this is a remarkably talky project. The villains monologue, the supporting characters all monologue, and between dialogue, thought balloons, and narrative sidebars, Gretel shares just about every thought she's ever had during her several hundred years lifetime. Needless to say, there's a lot of repetition in that approach, and the monologuing often slows the pace of the story to a near halt.  

But, mixed into that there's an interesting story and plot, complete with some nice twists and unexpected angles. The upshot is that you have to be patient with this series, but if you are patient there are many rewards. And, lots of stories like this are padded out with fight scenes that go on forever  and are just repeated with different characters over and over. That isn't done here. Fights and battles and confrontations are crisp and brief, and most of the space is devoted to the aforementioned dialogues and soliloquies. The net effect is that this often reads more like an illustrated novel than your usual comic or graphic novel.  

So, this ended up being a satisfying, if somewhat scattershot, tale that was anchored by a much stronger and well developed main character than usual. I'm good with that. 

(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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Hmmm…  A comic that is bright and breezy, but also wordy as all hell, and that can be really smart when it needs to be, but also entirely dumb.  There's a line in it about the truth of the story being long-winded, and boy do the characters here like to yack.  Everyone gets to tell the entire backstory before now, whether we need to see it or not, and while there is a pleasurable twist in all that at one point, the word count here should be about half what it is.  That said, the convoluted story, going back several times through the last few hundred years of our witch hunting heroine, does at least enliven the page more than you might think.  But it also clunks into Stupidity Corner, with a waffly bit where it tries to bring racism in as a subject.  That's nothing compared to the childish, misguided bit where it tries to bring the Holocaust in as a background – and gives the Jews in their cattle cars lovely glass windows in the carriages to look out of.  WTF?  Is this supposed to be shatterproof, bulletproof glass, or magic, or what?  Risible.

So, comments like that might make you think this is as idiotic as so much else from the Grimm Universe.  And actually, no, it isn't.  It's a lot richer, a lot more well thought out, and when it does that thing I can't talk about, it's actually quite good.  I'm not sure the whole conclusion makes as much sense as the creators think it does, but I actually enjoyed this, for all its flaws.  Three and a half stars – which is stellar compared to much of this house's output.
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