This month Fairest shoves prequel stories to a side and jumps into the future of Fables continuity!
Cinderella, the gun-toting spy, makes her debut in Fairest #21. We find her imprisoned by trolls selling women into sex slavery. Naturally she escapes, but only with the help of Dickory the mouse, who tells her about troubles in Fabletown. It appears that there was a failed assassination attempt on Cinderella and her presence is requested by Snow White herself.
Fairest readers will notice the immediate shift in storytelling this month. Marc Andreyko takes over the writing aspects of the book and tries to intertwine Fairest and Fables more than ever before. The move is intriguing but tends to stagger slightly. Despite that, the story is full of character, as well as action and progression that keeps the reader engaged from the very first page.
The story moves at somewhat of a rapid pace, but we’re given enough information to get by as the issue progresses. Although there are clearly more questions than answers, the writing in Fairest #21 is consistent and entertaining. The artwork is done by Shawn McManus who worked on Fairest #7, the issue focused on Lamia. His style is very vibrant and filled with force. The way McManus draws action highlights not only the punches and slices, but also the emotion in the characters faces during the sequences. There isn’t a single panel where the emotions are questionably drawn; McManus understands what the character should be feeling and how to depict it in an impressive way.
Although being a spin-off series that reads as a standalone piece, Fairest #21 does not help the reader understand what is taking place. In previous arcs, a reader would be able to enjoy the story and grasp it without needing to know too much about Fables, and if it was necessary, it was explained in a quick and painless manner. However, this issue dives in right after Fables #137 that will not be released for two months.
This makes reading this issue particularly difficult if you do not read Fables or at least know the characters. There is a black-haired woman in the beginning of the issue and she is not referred to by name directly in the book. The woman is Snow White, but a non-Fables reader couldn’t possibly know that. They would have to assume.
A small misprint is placed in the book. The advertising for this arc has been called ‘Of Mice & Men’ on nearly every media outlet you can find. It is even read on the front cover of the book, but on the inside, the name of the arc reads ‘Of Men & Mice’.
Fairest #21 serves as a great issue for Fables fans, but may feel like falling off a cliff for Fairest-only readers. The abrupt change in the design of Fairest makes the read somewhat difficult but still enjoyable. As a result, the Fairest-only reader will feel more inclined to look up these new characters and throw themselves into the world of Fables as well.