The short lived Fables offshoot, Fairest, wrapped up at the same time as its parent title(insert Farewell link). Fairest focused on the side character women of Fables, primarily those traditionally known as the “princesses” and is collected in several volumes. There are also a few stand alone releases called Cinderella, that follow the exploits of Fabletown’s most badass spy. Fairest: In All the Land is not an issue compilation, but a single story told through a mixture of long form text and illustrations. Fables writer Bill Willingham wrote the story and the illustrations are provided by a mix of people so the book has a unique look from story to story.
Chronologically, Fairest: In All the Land takes place around Fables: Camelot. Someone is murdering the most beautiful women of Fabletown. With Bigby Wolf dead, or at least no longer corporeal, the detecting falls to Cinderella. With the help of the imprisoned fairy Hadreon, cursed into the form of a car that can travel anywhere in the universe, Cinderella tries to piece the mystery together but everywhere she turns there is another set of dead bodies. Snow White, Rose Red, Morgan La Fey, and more all fall to the killer despite Cinderella’s efforts. She, along with Ozma and Reynard the Fox, find themselves one step behind the killer every step of the way.
Meanwhile in the lost library, The Magic Mirror is trying to solve the mystery as well. The Mirror can see anywhere and anytime, except to where its master has forbidden it to look. But the Mirror hasn’t had a master for centuries, why can’t it see who is committing these murders? With the help of the tiny Barleycorn Women, the Mirror desperately tries to communicate to Fabletown to give Cinderella assistance before she too ends up dead. Something has been stolen from the library, and it holds the key to reversing these terrible events, but Cinderella only has 7 days to set things right. And her enemy has been waiting a long time for revenge.
This long form story works as a standalone but also fills in a major plot point for those who have been following Fables through its conclusion. New readers can jump in to it, and it may serve as a good entry point to the world of Fables. It’s still a complex story, and knowing who is who and what they have done helps immensely. It also helps to fill out a crucial part of Fables: Farewell while giving an old enemy the final send-off they deserve.
The story is excellent and moves fast. The various illustrators all bring a different feel to the story, from comic-like to photo realistic. Even though Fables has ended if you are a fan and have not read the Fairest series I highly recommend you do so. It has the same energy and inventiveness of the parent title and because it is taking place at the same time as the main story it does fill in pieces of the story that while not crucial, do help explain some key events.
One final note, in the wake of the disastrous panel over the summer that Bill Willingham moderated the portrayal of the villain is going to set off some warning bells. Longtime readers are going to recognize her and if you are like me you are going to make some connections in this book, as well as the villain’s earlier appearance way back at the start of Fables, and Willingham’s character. Willingham is an odd guy. For a series that passes the Bechdel test consistently and features well rounded female characters he definitely has some hang ups when it comes to social activism.