FAIRLADY #1 / Writer: Brian Schirmer / Artist: Claudia Balboni / Colorist: Marissa Louise / Letterer: David Bowman / Cover Artist: Balboni & Louise / Publisher: Image Comics / Published: April 10, 2019
Spoiler alert: this review discusses a narrative twist in the issue.
The creative team behind Black Jack Ketchum, Brian Schirmer and Claudia Balboni, bring to life a post-war detective fantasy about a tough veteran woman and a cat man roaming the land and solving cases atop polar bear like steeds. I am drawn to this comic simply by the cover of a lady and a cat guy posing in a serious way, ready for adventure. I didn’t know I would be following the tale of the first Fairlady (a Fairman is a detective in this land) on the case of a missing girl. This story uses a clever and fun unreliable narrator for the first issue, which gives the series room for development while also defining the world. This is a world in which fish people exist and cities are built in what looks like a giant robot corpse with no explanation needed, an excellent case of show and not tell.
Strong Female Lead
Jenner Faulds is a new addition to a line of strong female leads in modern comics and I’m excited to see what kind of character she is. The first issue turns out to be narrated by someone other than her, with a twist that the thought bubbles are actually the journal entries of the missing girl they sought. So, other than what’s in the intro, we know nothing about Jenner Faulds, and that leaves a lot of room for growth.
So, this is a fantasy adventure noir mystery that feels like a combination between Chinatown and Dungeons & Dragons, with a bit of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thrown in for good measure. This gives us a huge world to explore with a lot of history and because the setting is not the focus of the story, the story won’t be held back by the insanity of never-ending exposition. Instead, there’s just some good detective storytelling with magic.
The overwhelming number of directions this story could go is what intrigues me the most: it seems to focus on Jenna, but what’s the deal with her cat friend and the wizard tower she protects, along with a plethora of other unanswered questions? That, and Claudia Balboni drawing random fantasy stuff is my new favorite thing. So, check out Fairlady, it’s an awesome independent book.
Verdict: 4 out of 5