Science fiction and fantasy
Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom
by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, Inaki Miranda and Barry Kitson
The story is very tightly packed with twists and turns, especially because Tomoko is a complicated character who can be manipulative, but isn't entirely unsympathetic. Very few characters are simply good or bad, and I found it took a couple of readings to properly understand what was going on with each of them. The story raises more questions than it answers. Her fraught relationship with her adoptive mother, the witch Totenkinder, and the full story about her children, are amongst these. It's as though The Hidden Kingdom is more of a set-up for a longer series than a self-contained story.
I enjoyed the way this graphic novel opens up the series by introducing Japanese characters. I'm not very familiar with oriental legends, so I didn't know whether these characters came from pre-existing myths (I suspect not), but they did introduce an unexpected element. Jack is funny, although it's in a fairly predictably self-interested way. But the character I most warmed to was Joel Crow, who is more in the dark about what's going on than most of the characters.
Inaki Miranda's art is clear and attractive. There are several relationships and there's even a birth scene, so the text leaves scope for some nudity, but when it comes up it's very tastefully drawn. This is quite a contrast to Adam Hughes' dreamy but suggestive pieces of cover art.
There's also a short tale at the end, Altered States, about a dryad and her difficulties getting dates, as narrated by Reynard the Fox. It's light, amusing, and a little bit gross-out. It contrasts with Rapunzel's story, which is quite a bit heavier.
2nd September 2013
If you like this, try:Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham and Phil Jimenez
When Ali Baba finds two Sleeping Beauties, he has no idea which one he should wake with a kiss. A graphic novel featuring the characters from Fables.
Review © Ros Jackson