by Paul Jenkins, Humberto Ramos, and Leonardo Olea
When readers last left Red and Mr. Wolf, the two were heading off into the dark forest after they had left Fablewood and fled the evil Mr. Grimm. Paul Jenkins’ tale of these fable and fairy tale characters is a really entertaining and clever premise that is both an engaging adventure story and a curious commentary on routines, roles and freedoms. In this new arc, Red and Wolf navigate the dark forest together as Grimm attempts to send out anything he can in an attempt to put an end to this deviancy and return to order.
Jenkins takes no time at all bringing readers back into the story and even includes a fun page in the opening, as the first series had included a boy and his mom and their bedtime story. Just as readers are clamoring for more of Red and Wolf, so too is the boy as he begs for it despite his mother’s insistence for another tale. The story finds the two characters in the Dark Forest, an area quite aptly named, and within a few panels the familiar banter and personalities of the two characters are on display and it is apparent how this world has been missed since readers last spent time here. Jenkins has fun with playing on some of the characters, their true personalities and origins. Here readers are reminded how easily scared and worried Mr. Wolf truly is as he is clearly uneasy in their adventure. Despite the setting being draped mostly in shadows, Humberto Ramos’ art is still visible and his wide-eyed, expressive forms are recognizable instantly. Ramos has an uncanny ability to make any character charming and beaming with charisma.
In this new issue, the twosome find themselves aggressively pursued by Grimm and an army including a herd of dragons. Fearing their capture imminent, Red and Wolf duck into a tower where they come across a new character to the world. Punzel, the Fairy Quest rendition of Rapunzel is not exactly the sweet and helpless damsel looking for rescue that readers may expect. Instead, with hair that seemed to function much like Doc Ock’s additional arms, Punzel is as problematic for the two as the band of characters searching for them. Ramos’ design for Punzel, from her facial expressions to her mesmerizing hair, is a lot of fun and very creative. Much of that is made more effective by the excellent color work by Leonardo Olea. Olea, who worked on the coloring for the original, returns to the world of Fairy Quest and does a fantastic job in creating a beautiful, story-book landscape that is as enthralling as it is threatening. The two continue their hasty escape as Grimm follows not far behind.
Jenkins includes some other intriguing moments in the issue, including some other recognizable characters and nods to the overarching theme of the restrictions of the characters will power. The balance in this issue is even better handled, as the consideration for the ramifications of deviancy, will, and control feel a bit more subtle. At one point, Jenkins includes a scene that asks why a person would act mean if they could act differently. While the story manages to be both visually and conceptually involved enough to be engaging for adult and young adult readers, the messages about being a free-thinker and kindness resonate to a wider audience. With recognizable characters and a very exciting surface story, Jenkins, Ramos and Olea continue to craft a very impressive and worthwhile story. The universe in Fairy Quest is rich with potential and with a solid tease to end the issue, readers will be craving more of this series, yet again.