In this installment, writer Matthew Sturges and artist Shawn McManus reveal a story from the past; in 1946 Hollywood, Beast is on the trail of Lamia, a magical monster on a killing spree. He narrates the tale in a letter to Beauty and quickly reveals that his struggle with this monster goes back in history and every few years, but she escapes and he must track her down. His investigation is hampered by a rival, the legendary knight Saint George, who questions why Beast is the one after Lamia and not Bigby Wolf. (Bigby does turn up before it’s all said and done.)
Beast gathers some information which leads him to the Lamia, a snake-like creature disguised as a cigarette salesgirl. They tussle in a night club but when he has the chance to shoot her, he can’t bring himself to. He is captured by the police and questioned but they eventually let him go. He gets another lead on Lamia but Saint George beats him to her. I won’t go into it, but the ending turns out to be quite a shock for longtime readers as we discover secrets about both Beast and Beauty that have been concealed until now.
The tale is mostly rendered in black and white, with red pops (mostly blood), in keeping with its obvious film noir inspiration. It was a bit puzzling initially to have Beast out doing what is essentially Bigby’s job, but that is addressed directly and it all makes sense once everything has been revealed. The mystery of Lamia is a real shocker and, it’s actually surprising it was handled here rather than in ‘Fables’ and that it wasn’t written by series creator Bill Willingham. Nevertheless, Sturges and McManus do a great job delivering a satisfying story in a single issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of Fables, I think this could even serves as a nice primer, as it can be read and understood alone.
The art is nice. It has a slight cartoon-y quirk but fits with the usual style of ‘Fables.’ I liked the use of grays with the occassional pop of red.
Overall, a nice, single issue read.
Written by Matthew Sturges
Art by Shawn McManus
Cover by Adam Hughes