A stubborn wife insists that her husband is not dead, and certainly not by dragon breath. Jenner Faulds is on the case in Fairlady #2 from Image Comics.

FAIRLADY #2

Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Claudia Balboni
Colorist: Marissa Louise
Letterer: David Bowman
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 15, 2019

Previously in Fairlady: Jenner and her partner Oanu are hired to find a missing woman (Samanda), and they discover they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Jenner confronts her client, who did not hire the competition, and finds out that Samanda had embezzled money from him. Jenner does what any good investigator does, and follows the money, which leads her to the lender who did hire them, but doesn’t help with finding the woman. Jenner goes back to Samanda’s house and checks her belongings again. A strange rock catches her attention, and we learn that it looks like the remains of someone killed in a blaze of magic. This clue leads Jenner on a new trail and to the solution of the mystery.

ANOTHER INTERESTING EPISODE

Fairlady #2 is another complete mystery story, and it is written in a way that really feels like an episode of a television mystery show. The setting is a fantasy world, but people react like people in the present day, which gives a familiar undercurrent to the overlying medieval looking setting. It’s an investigation, with some fighting, but it’s not a tale of heroic high adventure, and it feels really street-level and kind of gritty.

The episode opens as Jenner is talking with a prospective client (Imelia) who wants Jenner to find her husband. The constabulary has told her he was killed by a dragon. But, she tells Jenner, it’s all a lie – she knows he’s alive. He’s clever – he was also a Fairman. To me this feels classic – the murder without a trace of a body, and the presumed widow who doesn’t believe her husband is dead. Imelia was also looking for Jenner specifically, unwilling to settle for any other Fairman. Jenner takes the case. Something feels fishy about it; dragons haven’t been seen since before the War. She talks with a contact she has in the constabulary who shares the incident report about the dragon…but who also gives her a file on other recent events.

Jenner and Oanu go to the scene of the death and she checks out the ashes, which are not dragon made. She talks with a number of other Fairmen. This is so much like television scenes where each speaks only a sentence or two, but they reveal a lot about Fairmen and what they’re like. Then she talks with Imelia again, who now blames the constables. They refused to approve Galin’s Fairman application unless he did some work for them, and then he died.

Jenner has a day job as security for a wizard named Ozias Froat (on sabbatical). Nejla maintains the tower and the grounds, and serves as a font of background information for Jenner (and indirectly for us as well). It’s another cool take on a stock character type. Nejla and Jenner don’t always see eye to eye, but Nejla is analytical and drops interesting suggestions. Jenner asks more questions, talks things over at length with Oanu, and goes for a long walk to think things through.

Asking questions brings on an attack, as sometimes happens to inquisitive detectives. Jenner makes her way to Imelia’s house to tell her how she confronted the constables and how they killed him to cover up their activities. Imelia then counters that that can’t be true either – Galin stopped by and talked to her today and told her he had to fake his death.

I’m not going to give away the ending in this review. Suffice it to say we have a lovely denouement where Jenner solves the mystery and explains how she figured it out, and there’s a fun closing scene back at the tower with her, Oanu, and Nejla. It’s a good mystery with clever dialogue and a satisfying conclusion.

BEAUTIFULLY LAID OUT AND DRAWN

Fairlady #2 is a pleasure to look at from start to finish. Not only are the characters interesting and expressive and the settings intriguing, but there is some fun use of panels and colors. When Jenner and Oanu are at the scene of the death, the panels are a series of trapezoids centered on the page that gradually get smaller and focus in more as Jenner realizes the fire was set by humans. At the same time, the colors gradually become more intense and bluer, as though sunset is giving way to twilight. I think it really evokes the feeling that Jenner is narrowing in on what is going on in this case.

During the denouement – again so wonderfully classic! – there is a dramatic shift in the art to depict when Jenner is telling what she’s figured out. It’s drawn in a much simpler style, more sketch-like, and with very flat colors. But don’t let the simplicity fool you – it’s still very expressive and laid out well and it is an effective way to set apart conjecture from fact. I absolutely loved it.

There are some truly lovely splash pages and establishing shots throughout. From the opening shot of The Feld (built among the remains of a gigantic humanoid construct) to the bucolic scene of the crime to the thoughtful nighttime image when Jenner is thinking things out, and her thoughts drift down the page, it’s all fabulous.

BOTTOM LINE: ANOTHER CASE NEATLY SOLVED

I love a good mystery, and Fairlady #2 really hits the spot. The plot is laid out well, the art is very pretty, and it moves along at a steady clip. I like the main characters, and even the characters that are just here for the issue have motivations. It’s an intriguing and satisfying read.

Fairlady #2

8.7 I Love a Good Mystery

It’s an intriguing and satisfying read.

  • Writing 8
  • Art 9
  • Coloring 9
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0
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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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