Fairest Vol 1: Wide Awake Graphic Novel Review

Fairest Vol 1: Wide AwakeErica gives this comic three starsFairest Vol 1: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Art: Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Steve Sadowski, Mark Farmer, Andrew Pepoy, and Shawn McManus

I was super excited for Fairest. I’d really hoped for some great stories focused on the women of Fables, telling who they are and giving them great agency. However, I found myself somewhat disappointed by this book. Lots of mixed feelings here. As much as I’m happy to have Briar Rose and the Snow Queen back in circulation, it could’ve been better.

My biggest gripe with Briar Rose and the Snow Queen’s literal revival was that they told it through the eyes of Ali Baba. A man became the center of the first volume of Fairest. And to make it worst, the main conflict between the two women becomes Ali Baba’s love. Or at least some competition around it.

Jonah Panghammer wasn’t quite as amusing as Willingham thought he was, despite the funny Firefly moment. Though it was a nice irony for Ali. And for what readers were probably expecting by Jonah’s addition to the tales. Jonah’s powers being somewhat useless except to stop the Snow Queen, Lumi, from killing them right away.

I’m glad that Briar finally knows her own history. And that she gets rightfully super pissed at Hadeon the Destroyer for cursing a baby. I love the catch that Hadeon won’t be able to harm Briar given that her magics already “killed” her. And the other fairies admitting the “true love” doesn’t mean romantic love was pretty great. While I’m okay with every princess not being super likeable, I’m not sure how I feel about Ali calling Briar out on her assumptions about him loving her and her attitude. Especially when she hasn’t been in Fables enough to really see what she’s like.

Lumi was one of my favorite evil characters in the Fables war. In a way, I’m really sad to see that she was put under a magic spell of compliance via Blue Fairy juice by Geppetto. Which means she’s not responsible for any of her actions. Which takes away her agency as a villain and makes her less of a complex character. While she was ferocious in her battles, Lumi seemed to have lost her drive for war, even against Hadeon, who actually would’ve killed her.

And don’t even get me started on Lumi being so jealous of Briar. Seriously. Ugh, women need to work together instead of being divided due to attraction to men. There are plenty of men out there in the world.

Though Sturges’ story of Belle and Beast is even more depressing. I just hated the entire thing. Not only did every single bit of Belle’s agency get taken away, it also fell into the bad trope of the woman with the hidden scary power inside her that the men in her life must protect her from, which she doesn’t always remember happens so they may lie to her about it.

I hate that Belle doesn’t know she turns into a monster. Especially given Beast has a dual-nature and they deal with it together. It’s like Sturges took an otherwise awesome woman and flushed her down the drain.

Check out the princesses’ stories, buy Fairest Vol. 1.

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