One of the cool things about this issue is that the focus of the story is on an Indian woman who is able to kick a whole lot of butt. It might seem simple, but it is certainly something that we don't see much of in comics every day and it was nice to see that here. Nalayani is introduced to readers somewhat abruptly: we are sort of just thrown into the midst of this story without a formal introduction to her character. All we know is that she has trained with a bow and her goal is to protect her village from the destruction that is being caused by a gang of men. The story isn't a bad one, it isn't only Nalayani and her goal to protect the village she loves: it is also about her relationship to a white fox. It is a story of compassion, courage and friendship: but mostly about doing something against your own will, even when you know that it is probably for the best.
The way the characters are illustrated is, in general, pretty good. The creative team took the time to give readers a lot of detail when the panels would focus on specific characters' faces and expressions, which was definitely a plus. The backgrounds, on the other hand, were not that great. The pencils and colors are very much in the style of the FAIREST series and are executed really rather well. The colors aren't too vibrant so they give a sort of realistic feeling to the characters and in turn, to the story. The layout is relatively good and makes the reading experience in general pretty easy to understand.
This is definitely "new reader friendly" in the sense that it is the start of the first arc. In it we are introduced to a new character (Nalayani) and we also see one very old, very familiar face. If you read the FABLES series then you may recognize one particular character who appears in the beginning and in the end of the series. He is also a character who will likely prove to add some interesting twists to the current story in the upcoming issue.
One of the problems with this issue is that it doesn't really grab you like it should. It has the potential to be a really interesting story but I admit, in general the dialogue was a bit hard to follow and a times felt a bit redundant. Although the start is a bit slow, the pace gradually picks up and the story gets very interesting by the time you reach the end.
There are some moments where the backgrounds could have been better illustrated and given more detail because it seemed too plain: almost as if the backgrounds were computer generated and copied, not really illustrated like the characters in the foreground (the scene in the woods is an example of this).
Overall this is an enjoyable issue, but not the best. The story doesn't really introduce us to the central character, although it does give us a sense of the character's main attributes (what her goals are) we don't really actually get to know her as a person. I did, however, enjoy the portrayal of her relationship with the fox in the issue and the creative team gives us the sense that this is not the last we have seen of him either. The question is, however, how much of this story is about the main character, and how much of it is about the character we see at both the very beginning and the very end of the issue?
As mentioned above, the pacing of this issue is really slow at the beginning. It is an almost uneasy start, but it eventually picks up enough to engage readers. By the end, you will be fully interested in the story and will very likely be engaged and interested in the upcoming issue, and that's good news.
This is a great jumping on point for new readers and old readers alike because it introduces a new character, new story, and gives us a peek at what an old FABLES bad guy has been up to. I for one look forward to seeing what will happen next.