I don’t know what I was expecting with this Fables spin-off, but I don’t think this was it. Based on all the covers and press I’d seen about Fairest, I assumed it was a new series following Snow White, Rose Red, Cinderella and the many other princesses involved in the world of Fables.
Instead, Bill Willingham seems to have expanded his Fables book into two titles. This book literally picks up some dangling plot points from the main Fables series and sees them through a logical conclusion. It is good stuff, and an enjoyable read, just not what I was expecting!
The leads in this are Ali Baba, Briar Rose, the Snow Queen, and a silly little genie obsessed with Earth (or Mundy) culture. After Briar Rose put a whole city to sleep (including the Snow Queen), Ali Baba has to wake her up with true love’s kiss. Only it turns out that’s more of a fable-code requirement rather than actual love.
Willingham continues to play around with what fairy tales actually mean and how they can relate to each other. Fairy powers are broken down to spells with redundant language. Former villain Snow Queen isn’t so bad once she’s free of the Adversary’s influence. Ali Baba falls in love with the wrong royalty. The same tone of originality and attention to detail so present in the Fables core title is on display here. If you like that book, you really must be reading this one!
I don’t associate Phil Jiminez with this sort of fanciful art, but he really does a nice job with it. Jimenz’s Snow Queen and Briar Rose really steal the show with their exotic costumes and dynamic facial expressions. I really appreciate the variety in the different fairy godmother designs too. Each one has a ton of personality in her almost super-heroic outfit.
Matthew Sturges and Shawn McManus have a done-in-one featuring the Beast that is heartbreaking, but only on the last few pages. The abrupt departure from the first story is part of what makes this series feel like a companion to the core Fables book.