The story opens with Jenner Faulds down and bleeding. What happened? How did she get there? What is going on here? Find out in Fairlady #5!
Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Claudia Balboni
Colorist: Marissa Louise and Lesley Atlansky
Letterer: David Bowman
Editor: Dani Colman and Jeremy Saliba
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Previously in Fairlady: We’ve met Jenner Faulds and followed her on some of her investigations. Tracking missing people is a common request; last time it was tracking down a book, specifically, the last page of a mystery book. (Someone has been stealing this page from all the copies of the book he can find.) Along the way, we’ve met some of the Fairmen, the local constabulary, Jenner’s sometime partner Oanu, and Nejla (caretaker of the wizard’s tower). Jenner is a tough and persistent investigator, and she does her best to figure out the weirdest cases.
MORE THAN A MISSING PERSON
While up until now each issue has read as a complete, self-contained detective story, Fairlady #5 takes some of the threads spun previously and weaves them into a story on a whole new level. I suspected this from the first page, which is mostly black with a small image of Jenner possibly bleeding out. The writing on the page is her disjointed thoughts, and she wonders as far back to being hired by the Wizard. Is that job the reason she became a Fairlady?
The mystery in this issue unfolds into a bigger one, and I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to spoil as little as possible. This is not a jumping on point – there are connections here to past stories and past characters, so it assumes we have some familiarity with who everyone is. But I will tell you it’s tightly plotted and hangs together and is jam-packed with action.
Near the Feld, there is a sanctuary called the Village where one of the residents recently broke out and killed three people. This resident is Samanda Messilis, a woman whom Jenner brought to the Village in the first issue. She appeared to be broken in mind and sorely in need of healing. After the murders, a Fairman was consulted, and he talked to the constable, who brought Jenner in.
As we go over the facts of the case, we see both the story as it unfolds, but also Jenner chasing a large man. It’s quite a chase, leading over rooftops and through several buildings. The background dialogue keeps taking us back to the investigation. Several things just don’t sit quite right. Different theories are developed, argued, and rejected. Jenner even doubts herself at one point. What really happened, and how does Jenner fit in to this?
It’s suspenseful. The plot is complicated enough that I recommend reading through this more than once. Between the art and the dialogue, we simultaneously experience things that happen at different times. You need to stay alert through this one, but it’s quite a fun read.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE SPACE
The art of Fairlady #5 really stands out. One of the big techniques I want to touch on is the use of contrasting panel styles. The main investigation and flashbacks are told in fairly standard style – four to six panels to a page, some vertical, some horizontal. It’s orderly and straightforward. Then we keep cutting to the chase scene, which is told with a lot of double page spreads, and panels that are angled and anything put rectangular – huge splashes, long tapering shapes that cut across two pages, etc. These lend themselves to dynamic perspectives and the exaggerated figure positions that just scream movement and speed.
The other technique is the use of white or black space. There are a few sections, such as the first page which I already mentioned, where the art does not take up the full page. The open space on the page is used for carefully measured dialogue. The book has used this before, and I like it. Detective stories often need moments where the investigator is thinking, even as things unfold around them. This pulls the thoughts out of the story but leaves them clearly adjacent. The reader can read them in several ways – a small chunk of information with the panel it is next to, or the panels as one column and the text another. It works extremely well for giving us two kinds of stories at the same time.
BOTTOM LINE: SOME SERIOUS DANGER STEPS IN
Fairlady #5 takes the episodic, fun detective story one step further by suddenly making it absolutely clear to us that there is a bigger plot, and perhaps there has been from the start. It is suspenseful; it is satisfying; and Jenner Faulds is a gutsy hero whom I love seeing her in action.
ll is not as it seems – what is the plot and who is behind it?