What would you do for a good book? (Fairlady #4 “The Case of the Missing Page” 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 Justin Greenwood & Brad Simpson

Fairlady Case File by Dani Colman

Edits by Dani Colman & Jeremy Saliba

Fairlady Created by Brian Schirmer & Claudia Balboni

And then, sometimes, people in cat masks hire you to find missing pages. It’s all in a days work, right? …Right?

In This Issue: We rejoin Jenner in a dark room with a bag over her head. Her client, an “important, recognizable figure” wearing a giant cat mask to retain anonymity, wants her to find a book. Specifically, the last page of a book. A mystery. A work of fiction, written before the war. Not a spellbook. Not a book with a list of names of traitors or enemies. Not a cursed tome to be used for goodness knows what sort of nefarious activities. Just a really good book, the copy of which owned by the client is missing its final page—the page revealing the identity of the murderer. The client is obsessed with knowing the ending to this staggering work of genius.

O…kay?

Jenner reads the book itself and, unable to divine an appropriate ending using her Fairlady know-how, she decides to simply ask Nejla to call upon the spirit of the author and ask him. Nejla responds in her typical fashion with a pointed “No.” Jenner leaves the book in Nejla’s care (with Nejla swearing to the high heavens that she certainly won’t read it, as she has so many better things to do with her time) and goes on the hunt. Jenner meets with the owner of a bookshop who, though knowledgeable, is ultimately unable to assist. Then she tries the library, where she is condescended to by a multi-eyed, multi-tentacled elitist bibliophile and then apprehended by the library’s private security and delivered to the Constabulary, where her ‘pal’ Camershon is as pleased to see her as he usually is (which is not at all). Camershon sends Jenner on her way without anything further to add to her list of clues. Jenner tires the regulars at Dram’s—still nothing—and, as a last resort, she goes to see Husker, her contact who inhabits the gray area between legitimate business and the black market. Surprisingly, he has a copy of the book in question.

Unsurprisingly, he won’t let it go for free.

After combing The Feld for the items on Husker’s laundry list, Jenner returns to collect Husker’s copy of the book—which is also missing its final page.

Cue Jenner heading straight to Dram’s for a pity drink.

It turns out that Dram’s is the perfect place for her to have gone, however. Her faithful tap master has a lead—someone has been going to the library and ripping the last pages out of the books! Jenner circles back with Camershon, who grudgingly tells her the bare minimum about the ordeal, and then visits the tentacled librarian who finally sheds some light on things. Yes, someone had been vandalizing the books. Yes, they had been apprehended and taken to the Constabulary. No, charges had not been pressed, because they “feared word would spread of [the vandal’s] competing establishment.”

Off Jenner speeds to the book seller…and they both find themselves in front of the cat-masked client.

So what happened on that last page, anyway? Well, as it t—

My Two Cents: If you’re a fan of the mystery genre—and if you’re reading Fairlady it’s likely that you are—you can easily imagine how monumentally frustrating it would be to get to the end of your story and have the conclusion, the actual whodunit part, the finale you’ve been building up to since page one—be missing. It would be awful! Would it be awful enough for you to call in a professional to find the ending for you? Probably not, but that’s the beauty of Fairlady. Schirmer and Balboni have this amazing ability to take something as mundane as the missing last page of a book and turn it into a colorful and slightly bizarre romp through the world they’ve created. You never question the choices they make in their storytelling. A rogue former scribe with an ax to grind? Okay. A snooty cephalopod librarian? Fine. Some dude wearing a giant cat mascot head asking for the end of his story? Sure, why not? Anything is possible in The Feld—all we have to do is sit back and allow ourselves to follow along for the ride.

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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
Summary
That was a dirty trick. A wonderfully dirty trick, very well played. What's that? You haven't the faintest idea what I'm talking about? Well, you see, the Fairlady creative team decided to— ::hands come out of the darkness and drag me away::
Good
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Varied and interesting universe inhabitants
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Seamless worldbuilding
Bad
  • The self-contained story in this issue was a fairly predictable procedural plot.
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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