A Little Game of Hide and Seek (Fairlady #1 “The Case of the Blue Rock” Comic Review)

Written by Brian Schirmer
Illustrated by Claudia Balboni
Colored by Marissa Louise
Lettering/Design by David Bowman
Cover A by Balboni & Louise (after Quitely & Sinclair)
Cover B by Tula Lotay
Fairlady Case File by Dani Colman
Edits by Dani Colman & Jeremy Saliba
Fairlady Created by Brian Schirmer & Claudia Balboni

An Introduction to Fairlady: Jenner Faulds disguised herself as a man to fight in the War of the Harshland, but now the war is over, and the soldiers who fought are attempting to reintegrate with the general populace. There were some who chose to adapt their skills to tracking down elusive people and things, and they became the Fairmen—the first licensed investigators. Not to tamper with her personal trend, Jenner again defies the norm and holds the title of the land’s only Fairlady.

The majority of the story takes place in and around The Feld, population 10,191. The Feld was once a giant humanoid war machine. After it outlived its usefulness, or fell in battle, it was left to be overgrown by the local flora. It has been converted into a bustling city with the usual districts and classes of resident, and locations are labeled by their former part of the machine’s human form; the head, the left hand, etc. The populace is a mix of humans and anthropomorphized animal creatures…and a man who wears an octopus for a hat.

In This Issue: In issue #1 of Fairlady, Jenner Faulds and her friend and colleague Oanu (who is a Jessu, and though they may look like cats, you do not want to draw attention to it,) have been contracted by a businessman, Aken, to locate his former employee, Samanda Messilis, and recover the funds she embezzled from his consortium. It turns out that Samanda also has outstanding debts with one of The Feld’s biggest lenders, Husker—something Jenner and Oanu find out while doing surveillance on Samanda’s house. Husker’s hired heavies were already there searching through the missing woman’s belongings. After Jenner sends them packing with Oanu on their trail, she obtains a few things from what Samanda left behind: a glove, a dagger, her journal, and a mysterious blue stone which seemed to Jenner to be especially out of place.

Jenner and Oanu consult Nejla, the rather crabby levitating lady, about the stone. At one point, the stone was a human skull. At the Battle of Nerraw there was a magical accident which reduced the soldiers and a goodly number of the civilian population into blue rock. A two-day trip to Nerraw leads to a man called the Loop (who wears an octopus for a hat) who points them in the direction of Samanda—at least, her body. Poor Samanda seems to have been caught up in something, though what that is has yet to be revealed.

My Two Cents: Fairlady is shaping up to be an intriguing journey. It’s a bit ‘An Unsuitable Job for a Woman meets Rat Queens‘, and though the match is certainly a unique one it works almost frighteningly well. Schirmer and Balboni make an amazing creative team—Schirmer’s writing and Balboni’s art complement both each other and the concept beautifully. The pacing of the story and the layout of the visuals are smooth and pleasing to the eye. Nothing seems rushed. Every panel shows just enough without crowding the scene. There’s never a page where you’re forced to re-read a section because the flow is confusing. Though there are clearly plot points that are only hinted at or left open-ended, it’s impossible to lose the thread of the story. It should be noted that though Fairlady will be published in the traditional 5-issue arc, within each issue there will be a completed case. The readers are getting five mini-mysteries in the aid of one big one. That is a lot for a creative team to tackle, but I think the readers are in good hands here.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Elizabeth Fazzio

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Summary
There is a character. Who wears an octopus. For a hat. I realize that I've drawn attention to this fact twice already but I feel it bears repeating. I don't think he'll be in any future issues, but for three glorious panels, he existed, and for this I am eternally grateful. Brian Schirmer “pitched Fairlady as 'a gender-swapped Magnum P.I. in a post-War-of-the-Ring world'”, and it certainly lives up to that description. The concept of a defunct war machine being left in the wilds and becoming a thriving community is beautiful, and also wonderfully whimsical in the sense that addresses in this story read like “Bungalow Road, Left Hand East”. I find myself wondering if “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is the favorite local sport. We're getting a lot in this book—a fantastically original menage of known tropes, great writing, gorgeous art—and I'm sincerely excited to see whither this story wanders!
Good
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Layered storytelling
  • Varied and interesting universe inhabitants
9
Amazing
Art - 9
Story - 9
Writing - 9
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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