Fairest: Time for Fables' Most Beautiful People To Shine
Posted by Jason Wilkins on Mar 6, 2012
Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, and Adam Hughes explore the secret histories of Fables’ most beautiful people in Fairest…
Starting this week, fans of Bill Willingham’s popular Fables franchise won’t have to wait as long for their fix of modern fairy tale intrigue, as Vertigo launches Fairest, the second ongoing spin-off of the ground-breaking mother book. Billed as an ongoing cycle of mini-series, Fairest explores the lives and motivations of some of Fables’ most popular characters through the thematic lens of the folkloric archetype of “the fairest of them all”. Not simply a mantra evil queens recite to their magic mirrors to shore up their fragile egos, the idea of the fairest of them all has permeated the fabric of our most beloved fairy tales for hundreds of years.
While some might question the wisdom of risking over-saturation with another Fables book, so soon after the demise of Jack of Fables, Willingham insists the sheer number of potential stories relating to his thematic mandate warrants a second ongoing series. When all of the fairest of all the realms co-exist in one fantastic milieu, there is an infinitely deep reservoir of possible plotlines. In fact, there are so many storytelling possibilities Willingham had to recruit some creative help, settling on a revolving door format, featuring a rotation of some of the most talented writers and artists in the medium and beyond.
With each story arc designed to stand on its own, the direct impact on the mother book will be minimal, however there will be a high level of awareness of the events unfolding in Fables and characters intrinsic to Fairest’s own development, to ensure the new book relates back to the “main” series without sacrificing its own distinct identity. The idea is that Fairest will allow Willingham and company to explore personages and corners of the Fables universe in danger of marginalization due to plot and time constraints. The first arc sees Willingham team up with superstar artist Phil Jimenez, as they snatch up Sleeping Beauty’s dangling plot thread, immediately after the events of Issue #107.
Although known primarily for his superhero work at both Marvel and DC, Jimenez seems to feel right at home in Willingham’s metafictional universe, if early previews are any indication. His work in Fairest #1 is absolutely stunning, each panel packed full of lush detail that immediately draws the reader through the looking glass and immerses them in the finer points of the story.
Through Jimenez’s dazzling visual world-building, readers are no longer merely voyeurs but almost feel like actual participants in the story. Even as an all-too familiar Prince of Thieves picks his way through a crowded, shadowy goblin camp, Jimenez’s artwork evokes the cool claustrophobic darkness, the rotten stench of goblin sweat and discarded foodscraps, the low rumble of snoring goblin guards. If the first six pages are anything to go by, then I pray this first collaboration between between Jimenez and Willingham is not the last, for it is truly a match made in Fabletown.
Add a sexy wraparound cover featuring a bevy of beautiful babes, including Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Thumbelina, the Snow Queen, and a half dozen more, by renowned good-girl artist Adam Hughes and fans are in for one hell of a magical mystery tour through the lesser-known corners of the Fables universe.
Both Willingham and Vertigo have been typically tight-lipped about specific plotlines and creative teams although the series creator has hinted heavily that fan-favorite collaborators Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus will return for a future arc chronicling Cinderella’s latest mission. Following Roberson and McManus, South African, Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Lauren Beukes and artist Inaki Miranda collaborate on a Japanese-inspired Rapunzel tale revolving around the origin of the Wishing Well. And after that? Well, nobody’s saying – except that Hollywood screenwriter Sean E. Williams is preparing something special for a top-secret, as yet unnamed character.
With its unique format, eclectic cast of characters, and Willingham’s trademark concoction of whimsy, horror, and adventure, not to mention a stable of top-notch creators, Fairest is sure to set hearts aflutter (and tongues a-wagging) when it hits the stands next week. Will it have the legs of the prime book or its forerunner Jack of Fables? Only time will tell but if Willingham and Jimenez’s first issue is the quality benchmark for the series, then these particular fairy tales are in safe hands.
Fairest #1, Bill Willingham (W), Phil Jimenez (A).Vertigo/DC Comics, ongoing series, $2.99. On sale March 7, 2012.
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