fairest: wide awake

As a fan of fairy tales, retellings and fantasy, I couldn’t pass on Bill Willingham’s Fables comics once I knew about them.  As of today I’ve read through compilation volume 8 in that series – far enough to resolve Snow White’s romantic plot.  I liked the stories, the threads of myth and familiar tale-telling, and I liked Willingham’s novels even more (Peter & Max, for instance). When I found myself in a comic book store the other day, the Fables series was the first thing I looked for.  That’s how I discovered the author’s newest release, Fairest: Wide Awake, a spinoff featuring the women of the Fables universe.

fairest: wide awake by bill willingham book coverNew York Times bestselling, award-winning creator Bill Willingham presents a new series starring the beautiful, deadly ladies from his hit series Fables. Balancing horror, humor and adventure in the Fables tradition, Fairest explores the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red and others. 

The first 6-issue tale follows the misadventures of Briar Rose immediately after the events of Fables #107 (collected in Fables: Super Team), in which she was stolen away by the goblin army. Following this first collection, Willingham will serve as a consultant on all story arcs and introduce new writers from other mediums to the Fables mythos. 

Fan-favorite artist Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman, The Invisibles) returns to Vertigo to pencil the opening storyline. Award-winning cover artist Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Batgirl) provides covers, starting with a wraparound cover on issue #1 that spotlights the lovely ladies who will star in the series.

Wide Awake is a compilation of the first 6 single issues in the Fairest series, and it contains a story arc that brings together familiar characters Sleeping Beauty, the Snow Queen (who was on the wrong side in the original Fables series), and Ali Baba of thieving fame.  The other main character is Jonah, a diminutive bottle imp, and it is through his meddling (and ceaseless exposition) that the story comes together.

All series start somewhere, and fleshed-out character motivation and back story is something that a successful tale doesn’t skimp on.  Unfortunately, Fairest: Wide Awake doesn’t have much in that department.  The story is interesting on its own, but it lacks cohesion unless you’ve read the majority of the Fables series, and that recently.  Although there is ample time spent on Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose’s past, Ali Baba and the Snow Queen are on their own, and imp Jonah’s past isn’t fully explained either, though that doesn’t keep him from talkingandtalkingandtalking.

Don’t let me drive you away from this comic series, though – there is much to recommend it.  First, if you have read Fables recently, this will flow nicely, and it’s refreshing to see a familiar cast of characters get more air time.  Another thing I appreciated was the focus on the female characters of fairy tale – if this is anything to go by, a continuation of the series will be entertaining.  Add in gorgeous art throughout, and this is not only a fun story, but a visual feast. 

A note: in addition to issues 1-6, there’s another story featured in Wide Awake.  It’s a detective noir retelling of an interlude between Beauty and Beast in 1940s Hollywood.  While its placement is curious, the history of Beauty is done to a T, and mimics the success of black and white cinema noir.  All in all, a delightful addition to an already entertaining volume.

Recommended for: fans of Willingham’s Fables, those interested in fairy tale and myth, and anyone interested in kick-ass women in the world of comics and graphic novels.


Liviania said...

I like Fables, and I love a good female character, but I've been avoiding Fairest because I haven't heard great things about it. But the detective noir interlude sounds amazing.

Sarah said...

Great list! I'd also love to volunteer at my library someday. They seem to be encouraging it recently as there's lots of talk about the future of libraries in my city so really it should be my duty as someone who goes there so much! I've never joined a book club but that's a great idea for a resolution. Really great list :) here's my top ten. Have a great week!

Sarah @ TotalTeenFiction

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