A Cursed Baby and a Sensitive Snow Queen – A Fairest, Vol. 1 Review
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
There’s been a lot of buzz about Fairest in the Siebert house lately. My lady is a big fan of Bill Willingham’s Fables books. So naturally, a book that spotlights the women of Fables went over big with her. Having never read Fables myself, I had no particular interest in Fairest. But after a bit of a push, I gave it a try. I’m not sorry I did.
As one might expect, jumping into the world of Fables at this point requires some catching up. Long story short, at the start of Fables, various characters from fairy tales and folklore were forced from their world (“the homelands,” as they’re known), into ours. Once in our world, they lead new lives unassumingly. Fast forward to today, and we find Ali Baba, the prince of thieves, walking amongst the ruins of Imperial City in the homelands. With the help of a bottle imp named Jonah, he finds the comatose bodies of the evil Snow Queen and Briar Rose, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty (both of whom readers know from Fables). Interestingly, he awakens them both with true love’s first kiss. Calamity then ensues as Ali Baba, Jonah and Briar Rose face the wrath of the Snow Queen, as well as a familiar face from Briar Rose’s past.
While this may not be evident in the trade, the best part of Fairest by far is Adam Hughes’ work on the covers. No one else in comics draws women in a way that’s as sexy, yet simultaneously classy. He’s the perfect fit for a book like this. He hits a home run almost every month.
As a newbie to the Fables universe, Fairest gave me just enough so that I could enjoy the story on its own merits. Much of it deals with Briar Rose’s backstory, and characters we meet via flashback. Willingham ties those elements into the present day conflict with the Snow Queen seamlessly. Very little of it feels forced or contrived. The Snow Queen’s transition from self centered villain into a more emotionally vulnerable state isn’t perfect, but it works.
As a noob to the world of Fairest, I suppose the one thing this book left me longing for was more of a formal introduction to the world of Fables. I was familiar with the general concept, as I’m sure many people are. But for instance, there’s a scene where Briar Rose talks about having a band during the ’60s, complete with a full page spread of her rocking out on stage. Even as someone vaguely familiar with Fables, I have no concept of what she was talking about. It’s kind of a weird thing to reference without diving into that aspect of her backstory a little further.
Still, I’m nitpicking. Fairest is good storytelling whether you’ve read Fables or not. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s enjoyable on its own merits.
Front page image from dadsbigplan.com.