I was a bit confused with the first few pages of this book, because the story jumps ahead considerably from last issue. The time jump is kind of pointless, so I’m not sure why it’s in there.
But at any rate, Ali Baba, Jonah the bottle imp and Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) trudge through the snow, attempting to flee the wrath of the Snow Queen, who last we saw, was still slumbering in the goblin camp. Jonah babbles on about how men are physically more powerful than women, which clearly annoys Briar Rose. “I don’t make the facts. I just report them,” he defends. They take refuge in a cave. Ali Baba remembers that the Snow Queen commanded them to “Run.” Her army of frost giants and imps are on the hunt and our protagonists are just barely keeping ahead of them.
By this point, I was like “What the hell is going on?!” Luckily they flashback to the end of the last issue, where Briar Rose awakened… as did the goblins in the camp that were detaining her. They were nearly overwhelmed by the goblins before they were all frozen. It seems that Ali Baba’s kiss of “true love” awakened BOTH sleeping beauties! The Snow Queen, previously a villain in the ‘Fables’ title, was taken out by Briar Rose agreeing to be put to sleep (er… literally, not in the dog way) again, taking her entire castle and everyone inside along with her. The Snow Queen vows revenge on the goblins and grants Ali Baba, Briar Rose and Jonah a head start before she sends her hordes out.
The mouth of the cave is covered over with snow, which is a good thing. Ali snuffs out their fire, so they don’t suffocate on smoke. The snow will keep the heat in, but he and Briar Rose must “snuggle” to maintain their body heat. “Don’t get fresh,” she commands. The next morning, they exit but Ali gets a tad too familiar with Briar Rose, who shoves him down in the snow. Ali reminds her that he awakened her with “True Love’s Kiss.” They are interrupted when their bickering attracts The Snow Queen’s army. They are tossed in a gunny sack and toted back.
Along the way, Jonah reveals Briar Rose’s story, which it turns out, even she wasn’t aware of. It’s the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, embellished. Unlike the Disney version, this Sleeping Beauty has seven fairy godmothers and they are more fantastical than the three old frumps in Walt’s movie. It helps that they are rendered by the incomparable Phil Jiminez. These seven magical fairies, along with many other dignitaries are invited to attend the debut of four-day-old Briar Rose, a princess that finally blesses a king and queen who’d had trouble conceiving. Like the classic tale, one fairy queen wasn’t invited, Hadeon the Destroyer, the ruler of a dark realm of “shadows, wraiths and wights.” She vows revenge for the slight. (But is she as ferocious as Maleficent? Big horn helmet to fill, Hadeon!) Briar Rose comments, “Starting off my life by pissing off an evil fairy queen isn’t the sort of thing one generally fails to mention…” when she comments that no one has ever revealed to her this aspect of her birth.
The tale is interrupted by their arrival at the Snow Queen’s throne room. But she appears to have been eavesdropping on their story and beckons Jonah to continue with the tale.
Like ‘Fables’ this title balances fantasy with a modern eye, provided by Jonah who is well versed in all things America. It’s humorous, but still exciting. It’s just really a nice balance.
Phil Jiminez’s art is exquisite! He may be the best penciller in all of comics! Everything is flawless, realistic, excruciatingly detailed. It’s flawless and breath-taking! ONCE AGAIN, though, I must complain that this book is printed on cheap, matte newsprint! After reading so many comics on shiny, glossy paper, it almost hurt my eyes to look upon this book! I don’t care if they jack the price up a buck, art this good deserves to be printed on better paper stock!
Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Phil Jiminez and Andy Lanning
Cover by Adam Hughes