GN Reviews: FAIREST and HINTERKIND (Vertigo)

Two very good new collections

Fairest-Vol.04FAIREST, Vol.4 – “Cinderella: Of Mice and Men”

Writer: Marc Andreyko | Artist: Shawn McManus |

Cinderella returns in an all-new epic! After an assassination attempt on Snow White, Cind is called back into service to unravel an age-old conspiracy that dates back to that fateful midnight ball! Can Cind uncover the plot and prevent a massacre in Fabletown?

Collects: Fairest #21-27

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I’m a fan of Bill Willingham’s ever-expanding Fables universe. Whether it’s the main series itself, or Jack of Fables, or the Cinderella mini-series, I have loved them all. I read an very much enjoyed the aforementioned Cinderella mini-series, with their blend of fantasy and espionage (From Fabletown with Love and Fables Are Forever — both written by Chris Roberson). Therefore, I was rather pleased to discover that Cinderella returns in this Fairest story-arc. This is a bit of a strange story, but one that fits perfectly with the Fables-esque twisting of fable and fairy tale.

In this one, a strange loop-hole in the spell that turned rodents into Cinderella’s footmen to take her to the ball results in decades of poor decisions. As the perpetrator’s actions come back to bite him (and many others) in the ass, Cinderella must reprise her role as spy and Fables operative. It’s a really fun, quick-moving, country-hopping tale. With excellent artwork and writing, Fairest Volume 4 is very highly recommended — if you’ve been following the series already, you won’t be disappointed.

Also on CR: Reviews of Fairest Volumes 1 (Wide Awake), 2 (Hidden Kingdom) and 3 (The Return of the Maharaja)

*

Hinterkind-Vol.2HINTERKIND, Vol.2 – “Written In Blood”

Writer: Ian Edginton | Artist: Francesco Trifolgi | Colors: Cris Peter | Cover: Greg Tocchini

The second volume of the hit series begins with Princess Tersia, who has a vision of the future and the shape of things to come. In this vision she’s married to Jon Hobb and carrying his baby. Oh, and there’s a dragon! Is it a dream or a nightmare? Meanwhile, bounty hunters Starla and Jubal find the tables are turned as they’re run to ground by a Centaur posse.

Collects: Hinterkind #7-12

This was a very pleasant surprise. If you caught my review of the first Hinterkind collection (The Waking World), you will have read that I thought it failed to deliver on its promise. In this second collection, however, it delivered in spades.

The cast of character we follow has been considerably expanded, and the story spends far more time on plot and character development than world-building. Palace politics, international relations, and fights for survival infuse every scene: the Sidhe are going through internecine elite intrigue, the vampire nation is on a crusade (sinister bastards, these ones), and the remnants from volume one are still fleeing persecution of one form or another. Some things have disappeared entirely from the story, which is a little strange, but I nevertheless welcomed the forward momentum.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy, and the idea of characters of myth, legend and fables taking over the world, then Hinterkind is an absolute must-read. True, the first book isn’t as great as one could hope, but volume two rewards those who stick with the series.

A complete turn-around, this is highly recommended.

Hinterkind, Vol.2 – “Written in Blood” is due to be published in December 2014, so there’s plenty of time for you to go out and catch up with the first collection.

Artwork: FAIREST #26 (Vertigo)

A very quick and simple artwork post, because I saw it and it caught my eye. And because I love the series it is a part of. This issue is the conclusion to the current storyline (I’m waiting, as always, for the collected edition to read and review). The piece is by Adam Hughes:

Fairest-26

You can check out a preview of the issue on Comic Book Resources. Here’s the synopsis:

The epic conclusion is here! As all roads have led back to Fabletown, Cinderella leads the battle against the seemingly endless onslaught of mice/mundy hybrids! This one has it all: Blood! Guts! Romance! Swordplay! Magic! Mystery! Noble sacrifice! And… cheese? Read it before the clock strikes midnight!

Published by Vertigo Comics, the issue is written by Marc Andreyko, with art by Shawn McManus.

Fairest, Vol.2 – “Hidden Kingdom” (Vertigo)

Fairest-Vol.2Writer: Lauren Beukes (#8-13), Bill Willingham (#14) | Art: Inaki Miranda (#8-13, finishes #14), Barry Kitson (#14) | Colors: Eva de la Cruz (#8-13), Andrew Dalhouse (#14)

Rapunzel lives one of the most regimented lives in Fabletown, forced to maintain her rapidly growing hair lest her storybook origins be revealed. But when word of her long-lost children surface, she races across the sea to find them – and a former lover.

Collects: Fairest #8-14

Ever since I bought Fables Deluxe Vol.1, I have been in love with Willingham’s fantasy series (and everything connected to it). Then Fairest started in 2011, and I found a new comic addiction. This second collection collects award-winning-author Lauren Beukes’s run on the series handling writing duties. And it’s absolutely superb.

[NB: There are some slight spoilers in the review!]

Very strong start, as we are introduced to the key players – Rapunzel and her four-times-a-day hairdresser (it grows at a frightening rate). A flock of origami cranes comes crashing through her window, with a cryptic message about her kids… Nobody believes her children survived childbirth, but she’s always maintained that they have, and is determined to find out what is going on. So, with the help of the Fables’ most flexibly-moral character, Jack, she heads off to Japan. Along the way, and across the book, we get snippets of Rapunzel’s past, pre-Fabletown life. As far as I can tell, this is set a little bit before the main Fables storyline kicks in.

Fairest-09-Interior2

It has an extremely strong opening chapter/issue, and by the end of that chapter, it was already one of the best-written comics I’ve read in a long while. Beukes definitely has the skill for writing both award-winning novels and damned fine comics. She keeps things fresh, while also remaining true to Fables creator Willingham’s sensibilities and tone (sort-of – I haven’t read anything else in the series that leans more towards horror…). The whole story is great, featuring Asian Fables, some pretty inspired creations and interpretations, a dash of horror.

The artwork throughout is wonderful – it is sharp, vivid, detailed, and utterly eye-catching. And the bezoars! The artwork connected to them… Yikes! Some of the visuals were reminiscent of Japanese/Asian horror movies, actually. Damned creepy. Beukes writes wonderful characters, and the art team does a wonderful job of bringing them to life on the page. It is, like volume one, a beautiful comic to look at, too.

Fairest-12-Interior1

With excellent pacing, engaging and interesting characters, a blend of fantasy, horror and historical story-telling, and a bitter-sweet ending, “Hidden Kingdom” is quite brilliant. It has everything I want in a comic.

Fairest-14-Interior1The book includes a stand-alone tale at the end, written by Willingham. It’s kind of fun, actually. It’s more on the bizarre/weird side, focusing on the non-human Fables. Princess Alder (a dryad/tree nymph) is having a bit of difficulty settling in to life at the Farm – she has rather more liberal relationship mores, for example, which has got some of the male Fables all excited and exploitative. Reynard the Fox decides to show her that not all men are pigs, and they go on a date. They like each other a lot. But then, during the dinner, he makes a discovery and a mistake that he can’t move past… The story is an amusing side-bar to the main Fables story, and comes complete with an ominous post-script. (Nefarious things, they are afoot!)

Overall, another great volume set in the expanding Fables universe. Very highly recommended. This is easily one of my favourite comic series, and Beukes’s story is one of my favourites. I really hope she’s asked back to write more in the future.

Fairest-Vol.02-Content

Fairest #8-14 Covers, by Adam Hughes

Art: FAIREST #14 (Vertigo)

I just saw this on CBR, as part of an other-wise black-and-white preview for Fairest #14, and really wanted to share it. This excellent, atmospheric piece is Adam Hughes’s cover for the Bill Willingham-penned issue from the very good Fables spin-off series:

Fairest-14-Art

Fairest #14 is billed as a “special issue”, written by Willingham (who created Fairest and Fables) and features internal art by Barry Kitson. Here’s the synopsis:

Dating is hard for everyone in this standalone tale — but it’s especially tricky if you’re a gorgeous tree nymph from Fabletown. Princess Alder tells her tales of woe to Reynard the fox

Fairest #14 will be published April 3rd 2013.