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Jenner Faulds posed as a man to fight in the last war. When it ended, she had the same problem every soldier did; returning to a world she’d risked everything to protect and finding it no longer fitted her. Many soldiers became Fairmen, licensed investigators helping to keep the peace, often by clashing with former colleagues.
Jenner became the only FairLady.
Brian Schirmer’s script won me over with the first page. The issue opens in media res and there’s a gag involving a thug, Oanu, Jenner’s partner and violence which had me laughing for five straight pages. Schirmer talks in the backmatter here about the book being ‘gender swapped Magnum PI in a post-War of the Ring world’ and that’s a perfect description. Hard-boiled, morally complex crime investigated by someone who is no longer quite sure what the right side ever was, let alone if they were on it.
The book, like Jenner and Oanu, has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. The first is Claudia Balboni’s art which combines the grounded pragmatism the title needs with the fantastical imagery the world requires. Most of the issue is set in a settlement built into the remains of a vast automaton, Jenner and Oanu ride bear-like creatures rather than horses. Countless visual cues let us know this isn’t our world but never do at the expense of atmosphere. Marissa Louise’s color choices are a big part of that too, especially on the final reveal where they communicate total fragility and terror, all in lockstep with Balboni’s confident, precise lines. David Bowman’s lettering and design is the final tumbler in the lock, focusing the confidence of every other element and giving each character an instant, and instantly likable voice. Plus, together they pull off multiple visual gags like this which I just love.
Oh and every issue is a complete story (including an additional case file this time, written by editor Dani Coleman). So not only is this a great first issue but this is a book designed to ensure every issue can be someone’s first issue. Like I say, tricks up every sleeve.
Fun, kind, hard-bitten and clear-voiced FairLady is great and you should read it. Issue 1 is out now. Find it at my local comic shop, your local comic shop or Comixology.. Once you have, go say hi to the team on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr.