After months of waiting and waiting, it’s finally here: FAIREST #1!
First, I have to say the reason this review is up days after the initial release is because every time I sat down to write this review, I would get so excited about the book that I had to fight the urge to just say BUY IT! Rather than keeping it direct and to the point, I needed some time to calm down a bit, actually talk about the book, and give some more specific thoughts on it; so, here goes:
We all know that Fairest is the most recent spin-off of the decade old series Fables. Previous spin-offs include two Cinderella miniseries, The Last Castle graphic novel, 1001 Nights Of Snowfall hardcover, and the 50-issue run of Jack Of Fables. Each series or story further expanded on creator/writer Bill Willingham’s universe of fairytale characters set in the “real world,” and Fairest is no exception.
This series will be focusing on the female Fables in what could best be described as an ongoing series of minis and one-shots. This means the book will have a 6-issue story followed by a one-and-done story and repeat. A rotating cast and rotating creative teams.
The inaugural arc is written by the man himself, Bill Willingham, and features the pencils of Phil Jimenez with inks by Andy Lanning. This is a great package of art all wrapped up in a fantastic Adam Hughes cover.
I’ll talk about the art in this book in a moment, but let me talk about the story. “Prince Of Thieves” begins where the war with the Homelands ended: the Empire has fallen and the Adversary defeated. While the entire backstory is good to have coming into this issue, it isn’t really required. I can’t recommend the Fables series enough, and would encourage anyone and everyone to check it out. For the sake of this review, and considering some people buying this might not have a clear idea of what going on, here are the Cliffnotes:
Fables focuses on the storybook characters we all grew up on: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jack Horner, Old King Cole, Little Boy Blue and so on. In the beginning of the series we learned they escaped their homelands and came to our world to escape the Adversary who had been taking over the various realms the Fables lived in giving everyone a simple choice: join or die.
During the War And Pieces storyline (Fables #70-75 collected in Volume 11 of the trades) the Empire was dealt a fatal blow when Briar Rose, better known as the Sleeping Beauty, was taken to the Empire’s capital city and enacts her curse by pricking her finger and falling asleep which lead to everyone in the city falling asleep and the Empire falling.
Moving forward to last year’s Fables #107 we pick up the story 3 years later and learn that people have been trying to revive Sleeping Beauty in an attempt to being the Empire back. Her body disappears after a fire destroys the camp she was being held in.
Fairest #1 picks up after all these events and brings Ali Baba, the Prince of Thieves, into the forefront. In the beginning of the issue he’s looting the ruins of an Empire city and happens upon a bottle. He opens the bottle and out comes a blue… bottle imp? Yeah, no genies here, just a blue guy called Jonah Panghammer who has the magic ability to know things; things he shouldn’t be able to know.
This leads Baba to his goal of being rich. Jonah takes him to where Sleeping Beauty rests and explains that she can be awakened only by the kiss of a prince who is truly in love with her. Well, things happen and Baba is faced with not one but two beautiful women, the other is the Frost Queen (how’d she get there? who knows) but by issues end Baba is surrounded by goblins and Sleeping Beauty is no longer sleeping!
This was a fantastic first issue. It took me back ten years to when I read the very first issue of Fables. There seems to be renewed excitement in this book that I’m sure will continue for years to come. After all, Jack Of Fables ran for 50 issues, so spin-offs from this franchise tend to do well.
Something else about this book: there has been a lot of talk recently about the lack of strong female characters. All this talk about how there aren’t very many, yet no one ever mentions Fables. If there is any book that has strong female characters, it’s Fables. Now we have Fairest, a series that only centers on the female characters. Far as I’m concerned, that not only helps to fill the supposed gap, it fills it to overflowing!
Now, while the story was top shelf, as only Willingham can deliver, I need to talk about the art. Phil Jimenez has truly outdone himself with this issue. The first two-page spread took me no less than 10 minutes to get past– simply because I got lost in the ruins. I’m sure there will be “reviewer blurbs” on advertisements and the upcoming trade paperbacks, where people will praise the book and the art, but honestly, there are no words available today to express how awesome Jimenez’s art is. Fairest #1 is worth picking up just for the art alone! Also, he does the variant cover for this issue, which I was fortunate to be able to get from my LCS. They received two copies; kept one and offered the other to me, which I happily took! (The first picture in this article is Phil’s gorgeous variant cover art).
I guess the only way to express how much I really enjoyed this issue is by simply saying: This is why I read comic books!