The, “Return of the Maharaja,” arc comes to its conclusion in Fairest #20! Was the resolution fulfilling or an utter disappointment?
Sean E. Williams’ second arc in the Fairest series has concluded. The first half of the comic was filled with action sequences atop other action sequences and the final pages were focused on tying up most loose ends. We were given a little more backstory on both Prince Charming and Nalayani but it wasn’t the primary focus that brought previous titles in the series down. The final fight was well scripted and entertaining from start to finish. Sean E. Williams was able to stay away from a strange and sloppy end to this arc as opposed to the Briar Rose arc that started off the Fairest series.
Stephen Sadowski’s artwork remained as the standpoint of the issue and excelled in more innovative ways. Having creatures that could morph and transform gave Sadowski artistic freedom to create truly memorable monsters. He was also able to bring out inventive angles during the action sequences which gave them a cinematic feel. From the sword fighting to the bow wielding, the artwork didn’t stagger in the very least.
The Dhole have returned and they have maintained their comedic relief. Instead of the issue pulling towards comedy, or action, it maintained a balance that at first was hard to find in the arc. They remained honorable and ready to pounce at their master’s whim. Nalayani also stood out in Fairest #20 and made herself a worthy edition to the, “whom is the fairest of them all,” process that the series focuses on. She was powerful, accurate, and most importantly satisfying as a leading character. Although the focus stayed on Prince Charming, Nalayani stole the spotlight at the end of the arc.
The artwork and writing both meld well in this issue, but there were some questionable moments. During the final fight Prince Charming faced the Maharaja for the kingdom. Although the Dhole and the Maharaja’s guard dog were fighting during the sequence, it wasn’t shown. The implication is understandable but the time spent on the Maharaja’s past could have been scrapped in favor of the Dhole fighting it out. It would have made for more comedic back and forth as well as the action balance the comic was able to find.
The Maharaja was meant to be the menace of the arc, but with the constant shift of antagonist swapping, it made him less of a force to be reckoned with. All in all, a battle between the creatures would have not only maintained the balance between action and comedy, but also Sadowski’s strength in handling monstrous detail.
Overall Fairest #20 did a good job of finishing the arc and leading into the Fables crossover nicely. There were many opportunities for the arc to completely fall off the mark and fortunately they avoided these missteps.