REVIEW: Fairest #3

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Or – “I Used To Call My Boss The Ice Queen…”

The adventures of Briar Rose and Ali Baba have only begun, but I’m already prepared to be enjoying this title for years, much as the mother Fables book itself.  Will #3 live up to the standard set by the first two?

FAIREST #3
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Phil Jiminez
Inker(s): Andy Lanning/Mark Farmer
Coloriest: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Fairest: In the years since the Fables of myth came to New York and founded Fabletown, they’ve seen and done a lot.  Given that all the fairy-tale princesses of myth exist (and their adventures, or some semblance thereof also took place), there are a great many untold tales of the women of Fables.  That’s where this series comes in, starting with the adventures of Briar “Sleeping Beauty” Rose and her latest rude awakening…

WAY GORGEOUS, WAY ENGROSSING…

The thing that always fascinates me about what Bill Willingham does with Fables and Fables-related titles is seamlessly (and seemingly effortlessly) streamline the tropes of comics and adventures stories with the building blocks of fairy tales.  This issue opens with the story of Briar Rose’s infancy, and the various boons from her multiple fairy godmothers (including Hadeon The Queen Of Dire Blight, whose curse is why they call her Sleeping Beauty.)  The art is spectacular throughout the issue, especially in the rendition of the medieval party-goers and fairy-types, and Jiminez creates his usual crystal-clear backgrounds and incredibly detailed facial expressions throughout.  I missed issue #2 (sold out before I got to the store) but halfway through the issue we find that the story of Briar’s origin is being told to the Snow Queen by the Djinn, which suddenly makes me think that there’s ulterior motive (and unreliable narrator) in play, adding another level of enjoyment to an already intriguing tale.

PHIL JIMINEZ SHOULD HAVE A MONTHLY BOOK…

As the second half of the issue plays out, we find that I’m right about both, though not entirely in the way that I expect, and the Snow Queen is revealed to be a nuanced character in her own right, which is one of the great joys of reading Willingham’s work.  There are a couple of wicked jokes (the one about goblins is too good to spoiler), a couple of twists, and an ending that I didn’t see coming, all wrapped in a package that’s as beautiful as it is fully-realized.  Normally, I complain about covers being different from the interior art, but when it’s an Adam Hughes cover this lovely, I can’t even complain about that.  This book has everything that makes Fables awesome, plus a zoomed-in scope that shows off all the brilliance at play in the four characters assembled.  I love the fact that there’s no clear-cut villain here, just characters with their own agendas, and I found myself really irritated when the issue surprises me and ends (which is, in it’s own way, one of the greatest tributes I can pay to a book.)

THE VERDICT: PURTY

Short answer?  Fairest#3 is giving the main Fables title a run for its money as the best, most consistent title on the stands every month, hitting a home-run for 5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’re looking for an entertaining read, look no further.  If you want an alternative to superheroes, here’s your alternative.  If you want to see art so good it should be fattening, pig out…  What else can I say?

Um…  Umm…  I like cheese.

Rating: ★★★★★