Fairest, the spin-off to the acclaimed Vertigo series Fables, is 16 comics deep. The series is ongoing with no plans of cancellation, but does it hold a candle to Fables?
Fables is going on strong heading into its 131st issue and a possible movie in the works. Fairest spins off of Fables and gives their artists and writers a separate medium to tell their shorter stories. The current formula of the Fairest comics is a multi-issue arc followed by a standalone single issue, and going back into multi-issue afterwards. Natives to Fables will notice some of the same characters are included in Fairest. The first of which being Briar Rose.
Fairest got off to a rocky start. It depicted Briar Rose and Ali Baba escaping from Lumi, The Snow Queen’s grasp. They are accompanied by an imp that serves as a comedic outlet that simply falls flat. The reader won’t be drawn in by the Briar Rose story because it isn’t, well, exciting. The pacing was very slow and it took way too long for things to get interesting, but even then, there isn’t much to be interested about. The arc ends abruptly and almost with no consequences following the events of the story. Although the artwork is very pretty, it isn’t enough to keep the reader engaged.
After the first arc ends, we are introduced to the first single issue in the series. It depicts a cross between Beauty and the Beast, and Lamia, the snake woman. Here is where the Fairest series begins to take a turn for the better. Crossing other fairy tales and folklore together really makes the story stand out instead of a typical rehash and reimagining of source material we are all aware of. The only thing negative about the single issue was that the story was interesting enough to be worthy of a multi-arc issue. It would have been nice to see that story stretched out further and with less constraint on pacing.
If there is anything worth the time and money of the reader in the Fairest series, it is the Rapunzel arc. It is one of the most well rounded stories that I have ever read. This arc revolves around the Rapunzel fairy tale but merges it with Japanese folklore as well as Japanese horror. It was different, surprising, and featured phenomenal writing, artwork, and modern storytelling.
It was fulfilling to see the aspects of Rapunzel interwoven into Japanese mythos and seeing how detailed the story was laid out. It isn’t all sunshine and butterflies either; there is a lot of blood. Bringing in aspects of feudal Japan in a war-filled colony makes the story feel more serious in tone. It isn’t all serious, but the reader gets the idea that this story will have a lot of violence and hopefully a deserved resolution. Even if you’ve never looked into Fairest, or Fables for that matter, the Rapunzel arc is a must read for comic lovers.
After the Rapunzel story ends, we get another one-shot that is strictly comedic. It brought in a few more Fables characters and was a nice change of pace after the incredibly dark issues preceding it. There is a lot of fourth wall breaking, and it makes the reader feel right in the middle of the humor. This brings us to the latest arc in the Fairest series.
The newest arc features Fables character Prince Charming, and a woman named Nalayani. It tries to mix the kind of storytelling from the Briar Rose arc with the seriousness of the Rapunzel arc. It starts off slow but is picking up the pace. We will have to wait and see where it measures up in terms of the Fairest series, but anything following the Rapunzel story will feel like lesser quality.
Fairest had trouble finding itself in the beginning. However, it is beginning to find its stride. With engaging one-shots and an absolutely incredible arc in the middle, Fairest stands strong next to Fables and leaves us with a wonderful monthly pickup at the comic shop.