Fairlady #1 (Image Comics)
We’ve all seen the stories of a big war in a fantasy realm, but what happens when the war is over? That’s the main crux of Fairlady, a new fantasy series from Brian Schirmer and Claudia Balboni that plays a little like Lord Of the Rings, a little like Magnum P.I, and ends up being a whole lot of fun.
Jenner Faulds pretended to be a man in order to fight in the War of the Harshlands, but now that the war is over, she’s struggled to re-acclimate to regular life like her fellow soldiers. Some have become private investigators known as Fairmen, and after a wizard hires her to watch over her tower, Faulds decides to lend her war talents towards becoming the realm’s only “Fairlady”, investigating cases that no one particularly cares about.
The main premise of Fairlady is “Magnum, P.I. Mixed with Lord of the Rings”, and I have to say, that’s a very apt description. Writer Brian Schirmer has a lot of fun using the tried and true detective story template in a fantasy setting, but what’s most impressive is how effective the world building is, despite how little background info we get. Outside of an introductory page setting up the history of the fairmen, Schirmer essentially just tells us information we need to know as we need to know it, which allows the story to flow naturally. He subverts the trope of many Image series that rely on info dumping us in a fantastic way.
I’ve never seen Claudia Balboni’s art before Fairlady, but I was absolutely blown away by it. Her style works wonderfully for this book, and her character and creature designs are a lot of fun. There’s a great page layout that shows how Faulds checks out a crime scene for clues that stands as one of the best splash pages I’ve seen all year, and I can’t wait to see what else she’s got planned for future issues.
Fairlady wasn’t a series that I was initially interested in, but I’m really glad I checked it out. It’s got a solid setting and cast of characters that really leave a mark, and I’m really excited to see what Schrimer and Balboni have planned for the rest of the series. Seek it out.