The third issue in the “Return of the Maharaja” arc brings a greater understanding of where Prince Charming came from. But haven’t we read this story before?
We left off with Nalayani in a quicksand trap with little time left to live; as if being stuck in quicksand isn’t enough, a talking crocodile just so happens to be waiting right by during the whole fiasco. Prince Charming is left with two decisions: either face the crocodile or pull Nalayani out of the quicksand. Easy choice for the prince right? Surprisingly not! Instead of going for the woman first, as he always does, he fights off the crocodile first. After all of the mess subsides, he opens up to Nalayani and tells her about his past.
Prince Charming’s backstory doesn’t seem relevant in this comic, and it feels more like a one-shot than a multi-issue arc. The characters have enough personality to carry the comic and such a step backwards was not necessary to keep the Fairest engaging.
Stephen Sadowski is worth a mention for his artwork on the piece. His style is very different from the majority of comics that are being released. It gives the comic personality and a near vintage look by adding old styles and textures without making the comic seem ancient. He worked previously on the Briar Rose arc at the debut of the Fairest spin-off.
Sadowski maintains the same level of creativity, as well as innovation. A story like this one deserves a lot of beasts, and Sadowski does an incredible job of drawing monsters. He makes them hauntingly beautiful and it is evident that creepy crawlers are squarely in his wheelhouse. When an artist can do this much with nightmares, it looks wasteful not to utilize their abilities to the comic’s advantage.
You may have noticed a number of similarities between the current arc and the Briar Rose arc. And you should, because they are exactly the same. The structure is identical, the pacing is latent, and aside from the artwork, there isn’t much there to pull the reader in. The overall reaction to the first two issues is that the story is going to be in the style of the Briar Rose arc as well as the tone of the Rapunzel arc.
It turned out to be a curve ball and it is revealed that this story is just another recreation of a story we have already read. The characters are more likable and the chaos shifts in a timely manner but as the story drags on, it is hard not to see the comparisons between the two.
The Briar Rose arc was the low point of the Fairest series; we shouldn’t be revisiting it anytime soon. If you release an arc with a modified tone and new characters, the reader shouldn’t feel like they’ve ridden the same rollercoaster twice. It looks like we will have to see if the story pans out for the better, but it isn’t looking too good as of now.
Despite its shortcomings, Fairest #17 succeeds where the last comic did not. The big picture hasn’t been set yet, and maybe until then, the comic might be a pass. But there is enough intrigue in the story to pull in a memorable end. Hopefully we will remember it for better reasons.