UPDATE: Now available in paperback
The kingdom of Faerie has featured regularly in Vertigo’s line of comics, since Neil Gaiman pretty much introduced it during the Sandman series. Sandman fans will remember the Shakespeare connection, where Dream gives Shakespeare his ideas in exchange for two plays, one of which is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which gets its first performance in front of the Queen of Faerie and her entourage.
Many of the key players in that story reappear in this, but the sinister side of the Faerie court is brought to the fore: Queen Titania has been usurped and banished by an old foe with the help of some of her more untrustworthy minions; while other exiles are causing trouble in our world, taking a bizarre mix of heroin and blood, and dragging innocent humans down with them.
Carey’s plot revolves around a troubled teenager, who falls in with the faerie exiles all too easily. As she continues on this destructive path it becomes clear that the dysfunctional family she thought utterly boring has more than a few dusty skeletons in its closets, and she’s forced out of her teenage ennui and must come to terms with her approaching adult responsibilities, as well as her parents and their relationship.
It’s relatively amoral when it comes to drugs and sex, but while this is supposed to be the story of a girl on a downward spiral, Bolton keeps her beautiful throughout. This reduces the impact of the story, as how can there be any negative impact if the bad people she’s falling in with are supplying her with drugs and danger, but maintaining an ultra high level of glamour and good times? Even the bad things that happen and the eventual pay-off – which we won’t spoil for you by going into any detail – derail the seriousness of the issues tackled.
All this makes it something of a damp squib. Although it looks like it’s going to be a fiery and impressive display of adult fairytale meets teenage angst, it’s not particularly well captured. Bolton’s art is stunning but feels somehow soulless, with some beautiful set pieces and full-page paintings, but something’s missing when it’s all hung together. And we think some of this is down to Carey’s unfeeling, perhaps too business-like, plot.