I’m probably the only reviewer out there who has not yet read Fables or Fairest. So this will be a review of Damsels on its own merits rather than a comparison to the other big fairy tale book. Damsels is written by Leah Moore and John Reppion and they have a difficult task in this issue. Comics, like movies and books have a story to tell and there are ways to begin a story that are more dramatic Unlike movies and books, nearly all comics are consumed in monthly chunks. That makes puts them in an even more difficult position than television where episodes are rarely more than a week apart. So the first issue of a comic needs to draw you in with the drama (or humor if it’s a funny book) but needs to feed you enough to make you want to come back next month. In that respect I think Moore and Reppion have failed although it’s possible they may recover in issue 2.
This issue is trying to do too much at once and I think that’s why it falls a little flat. First of all, they’re trying to set up the world. Basically, all or some of the fairy tales all take place in this world. You can buy fairies at the market and trolls love eating billy goats. Then there’s the red head that appears on the cover. She’s the reader surrogate, but she fails to help us find out any answers. She just stumbles around - always being chased by someone. Then there’s a story with Rapunzel, Princess Aurora, and their husbands. There’s a lot of setup and I think it has the chance to read really well when collected in a trade, but even the cliffhanger ending doesn’t really leave me curious as to what’s going on. Let’s just say that the ending is spoiled on the cover and leave it at that.
However, let me give some credit to the writers. They do their best to fill the issue with lots of little in-jokes about what it would be like to live in a fairy tale world as well as sticking pretty true to the source material. Rapunzel’s husband is blind, for example. (Yeah, the Disney version was, as usual, a bit less cruel) So if you’re a fairy tale geek you may love it - you’d definitely find more easter eggs than I did.
Aneke’s art is pretty good overall, but unfortunately has some facial expressions that seem out of place and also needs to work a bit on proportions. This panel, for example, looks like the anatomy is just a little too off.
I do enjoy Ivan Nunes’ colors, however.
Overall, I can’t say this series really succeeded in pulling me in. Whether or not you would like it probably depends on whether you are really into fairy tales and aren’t getting your fix from Fables or Fairest (which seems to potentially have a similar setup). I just don’t really end up caring who the girl with the red hair is. Again, next month will tell if the writers are writing for the trades or if it’s just a story that doesn’t gel with me.