Fairest: In All the Land by Bill Willingham
Art: Chrissie Zullo, Karl Kerschl, Renae de Liz, Fiona Meng, Mark Buckingham, Phil Noto, Meghan Hetrick, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Gene Ha, Tula Lotay, Marley Zarcone, Ming Doyle, Chris Sprouse, Nimit Malavia, Dean Ormston, Kurt Huggins, Adam Hughes, Al Davison, Shawn McManus, Inaki Miranda, and Kevin Maguire
This was perhaps one of the best Fables stories that I’ve read in a long time. It wasn’t interrupted by one of Willingham’s favorite characters that didn’t make sense. Cinderella had the whole narrative from beginning to end, and while she certainly had the help of others, she was the one who figured out the mystery and came up with a solution to the problem.
As much as I was excited to see that many of my favorite artists were working on this book, having the tale jump from artist to artist was a bit distracting. I really loved de Liz’s Cinderella and Hetrick’s Snow White. I was also surprised just how much I enjoyed Doyle’s art, which particularly worked with the ’60s flashback to Briar Rose’s all-girl band.
All that said, I did have a hard time getting into this book. The slow narrative of the Magic Mirror didn’t do anything for me. While a stylistic choice to have Mirror narrate everything in exacting truth, it didn’t make compelling prose. Especially when it was only broken up by a few pictures here and there. There were so many talented artists in this volume that it seemed a bit of a shame to waste them with dry prose. But it’s worth sticking around.
The mystery played out well. I thought Ozma should’ve gotten more credit as a powerful witch, but when is she not overlooked. I also thought it was oddly unlike Bellflower to remain incredibly passive in the story — even letting her husband die. This isn’t the Bellflower that I’ve known from other tales, the one who risk everything to be herself and also to save the Fables. I get that this is Cinderella’s tale, but Willingham could’ve killed Bellflower before they understood what was going on or chose another character. (It’s not like we got much action out of Bo Peep before this.)
I’m not surprised that Goldilocks didn’t actually die. I thought her in the land of bears and being sick of them, even if animals float her boat, was pretty funny. Though how Stinky didn’t remember or recognize her seems perhaps a bit of place. Even if he was very drunk most of the time.
The one thing I didn’t completely like was the premise that everyone on Goldilocks’ hit list was “prettier” than her. But as the story went on, particularly the one about Briar Rose not wanting to help Goldilocks write music for her lyrics, it turned out that the characters usually had slighted Goldilocks in a non-vanity manner.
Seems like, even though Cinderella was a spy, that she’d be a bit better detective than she was. At least, she should’ve figured out that Goldilocks had the other set of keys to the Hadeon convertible. (And that Hadeon is 100% out for herself and to get out of the spell. I take it that she’s going to be Willingham’s final villain as they wrap up Fables.)
In most ways, the “second” deaths of Fables characters felt forced and left me rather unimpressed. Willingham’s just been killing off too many characters lately. I don’t think anyone’s safe anymore. I do think that both Beauty’s hydra/beast aspect and the Blue Fairy’s deaths made some easy plot wrap ups that Willingham now has tied with a bow. Same with the recently introduced Morgan Le Fey for this Camelot plot. I just have this feeling that he’s the type of author who’s going to want to tie everything up with a bow.
Take a journey with Cinderella and buy Fairest In All the Land.