This is the first volume in another Fables
spin-off. A lot of the Fables
spin-offs have not been great, and I was a little worried about Bill Willingham focusing on "the ladies" of the Fables series, since he's turning into a bit of a right-wing crank with a stick up his butt about Political Correctness and all, and you can see where that's likely to go. However, I was pleasantly surprised that at least the stories in this volume were quite good, with a lot of the old magic of the best Fables stories.
The main story in this volume is that of Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty, who we last saw in the main series having pricked her finger, sending herself and most of the Adversary's army into a magical coma and thus ending the war.
She is woken up by Ali Baba, who with the help of a lowly bottle imp (Ali was quite disappointed, having hoped to get a full-fledged genie or efreet) gives her "True Love's Kiss" and awakens her.
Sadly for Ali, Briar Rose is not impressed.
"You woke me with true love's kiss. Do you know how many times I've been woken with true love's kiss?"
"Dozens! Hundreds by now! And how many times has it ended up in true love forever and ever? No times! No times have I ended up with anyone who had the slightest intention of loving me forever and ever! Zero! Zip! Nada! True love's kiss is a lying dungsack!"
They have bigger problems, though, because by waking Briar Rose, they also woke up the Snow Queen, and the entire goblin army. The Snow Queen, you may recall, was one of the nastiest and most powerful of the Adversary's lieutenants.
So, surprisingly, Fairest #1
is actually the Snow Queen's story, hers and Briar Rose's, as we learn the true and complete origins of both, and they both reveal hidden layers. Then there is an epic magical battle between some of the heavyweights of the Fables universe, and then True Love. Or something like it.
I enjoyed it quite a lot. And Willingham only got his crank on a little bit. (The bottle imp, whose magical gift is "knowing things," like a living library, gives Rose a lecture early in the first issue about how women are physically inferior to men and that's why they have to give stupid separate prizes to women in marathons and since it's coming from the magical bottle imp he/Willingham is making a point of emphasizing that this is actually Objective Reality Deal With It hur hur.)
There is a small side story at the end starring Beauty and the Beast, with a surprising and dark twist to their story which kind of casts everything
we know about this couple from the main series in a new light.
4.5 stars for the story (Willingham being a cranky old sourpuss gets a half star deduction) and 4.5 stars for the artwork. Recommended for fans of the Fables
series, and it's a fun read as a stand-alone, though it probably won't be as much fun if you are not already familiar with the characters.