“Dead clients don’t pay…” (Fairlady #3 “The Case of the Barbarian’s Secret” Comic Review)

Written by Brian Schirmer

Illustrated by Claudia Balboni

Colored by Marissa Louise

Lettering/Design by David Bowman

Cover A by Balboni & Louise

Cover B by Benjamin Dewey

Fairlady Case File by Dani Colman

Edits by Dani Colman & Jeremy Saliba

Fairlady Created by Brian Schirmer & Claudia Balboni

“…and murdering them is bad for business.”

In This Issue: A barbarian named Kothan, weary of his exciting existence, decides to go into hiding, and hires Jenner to see just how well he manages to do it. It takes her a week to find him, and when she does, he’s got a knife stuck in the base of his skull. Tantanah, an enthusiastic friend of his, accosts Jenner as she leaves the Constabulary headquarters and accuses her of killing him. Camershon and a few constables intervene and bring Tantanah in to see the body—which she says does not, in fact, belong to Kothan, but to another, inferior barbarian named Dunkarr.

Cue much confusion.

Tantanah and Jenner repair to Dram’s tavern, where Jenner learns a bit more about the real Kothan, who has disappeared. Jenner decides to investigate, offering Tantanah to come along. The lady declines, saying that after thinking he had died that day, she would rather believe he will live forever.

Back at The Tower, Jenner has guests: Ari and Oosk, old friends of Nejla’s and, as it happens, Dunkarr’s. A piece of hair Jenner had clipped from Dunkarr’s head to see if Nejla could divine anything from to help learn more about his murder becomes the basis for a spell cast by both Nejla and Ari: revealing an image of two hands exchanging money, but nothing more, which answers one question but raises many more.

Jenner, on a hunch from the vision of the exchange of coin and something Tantanah said about Kothan, pays an after-hours visit to a farm, where she is thumped on the head. She awakens in a room with a large man—the real Kothan—and two swords. They battle, with Kothan interrogating her as they go, until Jenner makes a break for the door… only to be stopped in her tracks by a chicken. A VERY LARGE chicken.

Kothan, satisfied with Jenner’s honesty, sits down with her and they try to puzzle out the Dunkarr situation. Maybe he was killed because he was Dunkarr, or maybe because the killer thought him to be Kothan. For his part, Kothan decides that if the blade that killed Dunkarr was meant for him, then the killer can come if they wish.

One month later, Kothan has disappeared, and the question of who is after him turns into ‘what if they’re after Jenner?’

My Two Cents: Issue #3 of Fairlady gives us another full, standalone mystery, though for the first time it looks like this one is going to have a Part Two. As always, the story and art are engaging and complementary. We have a decent feel for the characters and their relationships now, and that’s helping to bring even more dimension to the world of The Feld. There is one particularly clever (and rather amusing) re-use of a section—a sepia-toned ‘history’ shot which first appears as the story Dunkarr-in-the-guise-of-Kothan shares with Jenner, and is then recycled with altered pronouns when Jenner meets the real Kothan—that I appreciate greatly both because it mirrors the plot point of mistaken identity and because of the comic effect of the repeat. All in all, another successfully executed and thoroughly enjoyable issue.

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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
As I mentioned above, we're far enough into Fairlady now that we have a good feel for the main characters and their relationships. There is a moment between Jenner and Oanu at the start of this issue which is supremely giggle-worthy. Jenner is frantically dodging Tantanah's attacks and rather than running in to assist, Oanu simply leans up against a building and assures Jenner that she's “doing fine.” As if that isn't enough, he has this little smirk on his face as he says it (a difficult expression to capture, so extra kudos to Claudia Balboni) and you know he'll step in if he feels that Jenner is truly out of her depth, but he prefers to be slightly irritating instead. We all have that friend, right? Oh, and there's a giant chicken in this issue, so... no, bigger than that. No, still bigger. A little more—there. Yeah, I said GIANT, didn't I?
Good
  • Extras within the book
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Seamless worldbuilding
  • Layered storytelling
Bad
  • There's a teeny-tiny bit of "convenience" in the solutions. Just a little bit.
8.3
Great
Art - 9
Story - 8
Writing - 9
Predictability - 7
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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