I didn't even realize it until it was happening, but this is exactly what I have wanted Fairest to be all along: large-scale stories in the Fables universe. The fight between Hadeon and the Snow Queen was well worth the wait, especially because of Hadeon's attitude toward the whole affair. I love a villain who embraces being evil or violent just for the sake of it, without any real motives or goals. They make for the most dangerous opponents and, therefore, the most satisfying defeats. Plus, in this case, it gave the Snow Queen a chance to admit to herself and the readers that she wants to live life on her own terms, that being an evil and selfish monarch doesn't really suit her, and in making that self-realization she emboldens herself enough to call for back up. She'd rather get help and live to fight another day than lose while trying to prove her own might. It is an important decision, and one which promises a bombastic, high-powered conclusion to the series' opening arc.
I also liked Briar Rose's little tantrum toward the end, explaining why she'd be jealous of Ali's affections toward the Snow Queen even though she doesn't seem to like him all that much. And perhaps most importantly, Jonah the bottle imp was much more contained than usual. He's a fun and funny character, but has had a tendency to dominate the dialogue of this title, often with mixed results. His attitude can get very grating very quickly, but here he takes a back seat to the action, and I think the issue is much stronger for it. He still gets in a quip or two, and still gets to be the guy who explains what's going on, but without any of the heavy-handed obnoxious stuff to go with it.
Phil Jimenez's pencils regularly have been the best part of this title, though, and while the story kicks things up a notch here, the art continues to be superior. Both women's battle armor looked spectacular, full of careful details that made them fit the personality's and tactics of their wearers. The swarm of tiny Hadeons was also well-done, and it served to underline her fear and desperation when the rest of the faeries arrived because we got to see her reaction multiplied numerous times. I think Jimenez's strongest work came right at the beginning, though, with the conversation between Briar Rose and Ali. He just did such a superb job with their subtle facial expressions, it really added a lot of depth and heart to the scene. He does that with every character on every page, of course, but for whatever reason that one shined brightest for me.
Fairest #5 was a great issue, and one that found a delicious mix of action, humor, and romance. Bill Willingham really delivered here, justifying all of Jonah's previous storytelling by making it an integral part of the combat, and creating a nuanced love triangle with no easy answers for anybody. As we head into the story's conclusion next month, I am more excited than ever for what it will bring.