This is the first arc of the Fable spin-off Fairest. It takes issues 1-6 to tell the story of Sleeping Beauty (Brier Rose) and the Snow Queen (Lumi) waking from their slumber imposed by Brier’s curse but used by the Fables to destroy the Adversary. Okay, I know if you don’t read the Fables title this a lot of jargon to take in. Hold on I’ll do some ‘splainin’ after we get the legal disclaimer and artistic credits out of the way.
All images are the property of their owners I reproduce them here under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright law for commentary and critique. No more than three pages total from any one issue is reproduced.
I love giving credit to the creators. First off Fairest is created by Bill Willingham. The credits beyond that are as follows. If not issues are noted the credit stands for all the issues 1-6. The credits are: Bill Willingham, Writer; PHil Jimenez, Pencils and Variant Covers for Issue 1, Andy Lanning, Inks Issues 1 & 2, pages 1-7 & 12-20 in Issue 3, Issue 4 with Andre Pepoy on pages 12 & 13, pages 1, 3-9, 12-14, & 17 or Issue 5, pages 2-14, 16-20 of Issue 6′ Andrew Pepoy, Inker pages 2, 10-11, 15-16, 18-20 of Issue 5 and pages 1 & 15 of Issue 6; Andrew Dalhouse, Colors Todd Klein, Letters; Adam Hughes, Covers, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Variant Cover Colors Issue 1; Special Thanks to Zander Cannon, Issues 2-6; Gregory Lockard, Assistant Editor; Shelly Bond, Editor.
For those who don’t follow Fables let me first explain the concept. Think of any fairy tale, folk lore, or fable you’ve ever heard that is now in the public domain and those are the denizens of Fables. There are many different worlds in Fables Oz, Arabian Tales, King Arthur’s Court, and so-on. These are call the homelands. We are a world in this universe know as Mundy because magic isn’t as predominate here. The book started when many characters were fleeing the homelands because of a villain called The Advisory. These refugees settle into life in New York City in a neighborhood called Fabletown. Except for the animals because talking animals would draw attention land was bought in upstate New York for them and they settled there on The Farm. The war raged on with The Advisory for many issues but finally his empire in the homelands was defeated with a multi-pronged attack that included Brier Rose (Sleeping Beauty) sneaking into his capital and pricking her finger at just the right moment to put all in charge of the empire into a sound sleep due to her curse. There have been many arcs since then and the capital slept away as Fabletown/Farm won the war and started the return of those who wanted to go back to the homelands. Recently goblins took Brier and Lumi (Snow Queen was formerly of Advisory inner court) not sure which one was the Sleeping Beauty since both were beautiful. Upon leaving they torched the capital killing all the other sleepers in the city. THAT’s where the Fairest series begins.
I do encourage you to read all of Fables it’s a fantastic story way beyond the normal comic. It’s well written, entertaining, adult centered, story using characters from our childhood. However if you aren’t up to reading all those TPBs (even from your local library) then you can catch up with the Wikipedia article on the title or peruse the list of characters at Wikipedia.
Now we are all on the same page as it were, let’s get on with Wide Awake where the ladies awaken. The story starts with Ali Baba finding a bottle in the ashes of The Advisory’s capital. In the bottle is a Bottle Imp whose power isn’t to grant wishes but instead to know things, specialty being the Mundy world. Still he knows where the greatest treasure of the capital city that has not been looted is kept. He leads Ali to the goblin encampment and the women. After some adventure and misadventure Ali wakes the beauties by kissing Brier with true love in his heart. Only the twist is the true love isn’t for Brier. The Lumi wakes in a really bad mood. She freezes all the goblins immediately and but feeling generous tells Ali, the Bottle Imp, and Brier to RUN! They take her at her word. Eventually they are caught and held as guests/prisoners of Lumi. There we learn Lumi LOVES stories. Bottle Imp tells how Brier became cursed something she didn’t know herself, how Lumi came to serve The Adversary, and a bit about how Ali became the Prince of Thieves. Later the knowledge gained from these stories helps Lumi and Brier win a large battle and come to a chilly friendship. Bottle Imp is granted his freedom for his help. We find out who was the true love in Ali’s heart when he kissed Brier. Brier not only gets revenge on the Dark Fae that cursed her but also learns that what she wants isn’t true love but true builders love – a foundation to build a future with someone else.
The story is like all in the Fables franchise extremely well written. Honestly the character development that continually builds on itself. This series is impressive and multi-faceted. It has a good sense of humor in it with the Bottle Imp bringing most of it. I love how things that were small at first become more important as the story moves along. If you read any in this universe you have to be on your toes watching for where those small plot pivots are! Excellent for engaging a reader beyond surface entertainment. There is a lot of thought and writerly talent brought to bear in the story. Excellently done.
Fables is know for extremely artistic covers that represent characters in the story. Fairest is following in that tradition but I don’t think it’s as strong. The cover of issue 5 falls very short of that mark. The Photoshopped glowy fire in the background is pathetic. If it had centered on just Lumi and her polar bear that would have been great but now we had to grey them up and add some Photoshop horror. Issue 1 is by far my favorite cover. It is a wraparound cover with all the fair ladies that will make up Fairest pictured tending the waking Brier who kicks off the series. Great concept! Excellent execution!
The interior art lives up to the VERY HIGH standards of the Fables franchise. It’s beautiful but story supporting. The people are consistent and well done. The sheer details put into the panels are breathtaking. It’s wonderful to just thumb through and enjoy the images. However I do miss the Fables trademark theme page boarders but that’s never been a feature of their spin-off books. I’m a big fan of the theme boarders. I think it comes from loving the old line illustrated books. Except these are in color! I’ll point them out when reviewing Cubs In Toyland arc when it is complete in that title.
Over all this didn’t disappoint it brought great story with fantastic art the very things I expect from the Fables franchise. It’s a sound and strong beginning for this title. It did not fall short on any measure and honestly I expected nothing less.
Next up for Comic Comments is a Zenescope title. We’ll visit Grimm Fairy Tales, Myths & Legends issues 16 & 17 for The Gathering story arc.
Up next is pages and panel comments: **SPOILER ALERT**
Here the bottle imp is naming all his prized possessions in his bottle. I was amused at the Homelands versions of Mundy TV shows. I was also jealous they got 6 seasons of Firefly not just one.
Here Ali makes his first choice as to which beauty to kiss. He chose Lumi which becomes pivotal later on. Why did he choose her? What was the true love in his heart when then kissed Brier?
Apparently Lumi has the ‘waking angry syndrome’ that is proposed as part of the new DSM currently under review. At least she gave the trio warning to run!
Here Brier is commenting on how the Fae blessings turned out for her in life. Some were as intended some weren’t. I have to say her green eye shadow annoyed me through the whole story. Not because it’s badly drawn – it’s not. Just because I didn’t like it on her. Also it seems the rules are if you are flesh toned your nipples can’t be shown but if your dark purple it’s okay.
I include this because of the art. Look at the detail there! This is a spread that goes over the middle of the page. I mean the background where Lumi is surrendering it’s wonderful! That’s also over the page fold! Oh the addiction the bottle imp is talking about there in off panel panel is Lumi’s addiction to arts and stories. She filled her court with such things until she was in service to the Adversary. How did she quit so abruptly – the bottle imp tells her. That later comes into play in the battle.
She finds her motivation to win in the big battle – to again rule her own life! She realizes that for years she has been enslaved by the blue loyalty cocktail. The sleeping spell without re-infusions of the drug has allowed her to become mistress of her own mind. Also I love her ice armor. It’s drawn with such great details. Also it’s battle worthy – not some skimpy cheesecake thing but real coverage for battle. Still it has beautiful accents and details like the beads over the armor cowl.
Lumi doesn’t fight alone even if she’s willing to do so to save her new friends. Brier has a righteous cause too – vengeance for the curse placed on her as a baby. She comes into the battle strong and finishes off the evil fae in several ways. I love the final irony… of how Brier gets her revenge. Oh and there in the last panel is that annoying green eye shadow!
Here we learn what Brier thinks about the True Love part of her curse. The curse is worded so that they have to have true love in their heart – doesn’t mean it has to be for her. She’s not quite gotten this yet. Also as the bottle imp later explains love can be fickled unless both are really willing to work at the relationship every day – true love isn’t going to last.
Speaking of true love – Lumi and Ali find each other. Here we learn the she maybe the Snow Queen but she’s not frigid.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I’ve convinced you if you are going to read a comic book series you can’t go wrong with Fairest or Fables.