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The latest member of the Fables family came into the world last Wednesday, as Fairest #1 by Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Andrew Dalhouse and Todd Klein. The book promises to explore “the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red and others.” The first story arc picks up where Fables #107 left off, as it focuses on Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty after she is stolen away by the goblin army.
So what do people think of this latest spinoff of the popular and long-running Fables franchise? Here’s a round-up of a few reviews …
Alex Zalben, MTV Geek: “By gobsmacking, of course, I’m referring to the plot of the issue: a thief we haven’t seen in a good long while picks up a jar we may have forgotten about, and sets in search of a lady or two who have been trapped by goblins. Much smacking of said gobs ensues… Though mostly by one of the most bad-ass wooden puppets you might ever hope to meet. And all of this involves characters or ideas that have been seeded throughout Fables the past few years, but one of the beauties of the book (beyond, you know, Sleeping Beauty) is that Willingham provides easy entry for even the newest reader.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “There’s no denying this is a Fables spinoff. One has to be familiar with a fair bit of continuity from the mother title to figure out where the characters are in this story and what their deal is (especially Oakheart). I haven’t read Fables in a while, but fortunately, what I remember from before I stopped following the book was enough to pick up on the appropriate and required references here. Of course, not everyone will be privy to the same backstory from Fables. Of course, one could argue DC expects only Fables readers to pick up Fairest, but limiting one’s expected readership to an audience within an established audience seems like it would be setting the bar far too low. Willingham’s script really could’ve used more exposition.”
Gilbert Short, Multiversity Comics: “I’m happy to report this book was a lot of fun. I didn’t expect it to be THIS MUCH fun, but it’s as much fun as the original series was in its vaunted heyday. There’s a whole new ‘princely’ lead in Ali Baba Prince of Thieves (who I actually thought was Aladdin in the Sampler, W H O O P S), who brings a roguish element to your standard prince not seen since Flynn in the recent Disney film Tangled. His charm and wit matches well with his new sidekick, a bottle imp named Jonah, who is something like the lovechild of Disney’s Genie and Futurama’s Bender Rodriguez sans powers. Their initial chemistry drives much of the book, and while it’s not an explosive chemistry, it reads at a brisk pace, which works for such an action-oriented tale.”
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “Jimenez’s art is beautiful throughout and is clearly the star of this issue with new artists on the way for subsequent arcs. His pages are highly detailed and lovingly rendered with as much attention paid to the smallest moments as the most epic. The characters and overall feeling is incredibly consistent and Jimenez crafts a completely believable world whether we’re looking at beautiful sleeping princesses, mischievous bottle imps or a dashing prince of thieves. Andy Lanning’s inks are sufficiently bold to give Jimenez’s pencils even more weight and Andrew Dalhouse’s colors are rich. The colors trend a little too dark for my personal tastes, but they’re filled with depth and nuance.”
Jesse Schedeen, IGN: “The series definitely feels more geared towards experienced Fables readers than newcomers. While the script is readable regardless, the impetus isn’t really there without having some idea of what transpired in previous storylines. That aside, the book is off to an entertaining start. It’s briskly paced and full of all the action and intrigue than one would hope for with Ali Baba in the lead role. The characters aren’t really newcomers to the Fables mythology, but on the whole this issue offers a refreshing change of pace from the events of Fables proper.”
Cal Cleary, read/RANT!: “I will almost certainly check out the first trade, because the talent is top notch, the design is solid and the characters we’ve met so far have some mild potential. But I have little desire to check out issue two. I have no idea what this series is about, who these people are or why I should care, and that’s so vital to a successful first issue. The opening issue of Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love told us exactly what we could expect from the series. It gave us solid character beats, a little action, and the hints of a plot. Fairest has none of that, instead seemingly coasting on the success of the Fables brand. It’s not a bad book, but I doubt it will win many fans.”