Review - Fake Empire (@DarbyPopComics)

"I'm reaching out to all of our people. If the humans did this, or if one of them saw something, no one's talking yet."

The Tooth Fairy is a construct created to alleviate the pain associated with losing one's teeth as a child. The responsibilities of the Tooth Fairy are seemingly very simple, but even the Tooth Fairy might get a little tired of the routine. That might prompt her to want a new direction in life, as is the case in Fake Empire from Darby Pop Comics. The issue is written by Eric Palicki, illustrated by Vinnie Rico, colored by Fred C. Stresing, Juancho Velez and Joaquin Pereyra and lettered by Erica Schultz.

When the Tooth Fairy is brutally murdered, her sisters Charli and Lucy desperately search for the killer. What they find instead is a terrible truth regarding their own parents and the steps that have been taken to keep their kingdom hidden from Humankind.

Palicki certainly isn't the first to allow fairies to co-habit with humans, but in Fake Empire he does it in a way that feels a lot more normal in many ways. The sisters Charli, Lucy and Jill are star-crossed in many ways, in that they come from a royal lineage within fairies that foists tremendous expectations on them. Palicki draws heavily upon this burden to drive the story forward, assigning each of the two living sisters an important role in solving the murder of the third. The dialogue exchanged between the characters can be a little cliche and repetitive at times (grieving is very important to fairies apparently), but it doesn't detract from the story itself. Palicki paces the issue in a way that gives the book a police procedural feel as the characters methodically rule out suspects until the final culprit is revealed.

Fake Empire successfully renders New York City as a locale rife with ups and downs, courtesy of Rico's illustrations. Rico's approach is very stylized, presenting the fairies living amidst humans as edgy and adds additional sharpness to their personalities. The characters don't stand out as magical creatures, as Rico manages to make them feel like they're naturally part of the world of humans and they blend in accordingly. His approach to panels is first-rate in that he uses panels effectively to illustrate that even though fairies look like they belong among humans, there's still a dichotomy of sorts that exists within fairies themselves. The color work by Stresing, Velez and Pereyra is dark and infuses the book with a pervasive sense of gloom throughout, helping reinforce the notion that the fairies in Fake Empire have to contend with troubles as well.

The Tooth Fairy is probably the most famous of all the fairies and Fake Empire relies on that fame for its narrative. Charli and Lucy are both very different in terms of personality, but they draw upon their bond as sisters in order to find their third sister's killer. Palicki's script is pretty straightforward in terms of themes, but he does make it feel alive through individualizing each sister. The artwork by Rico is brash and infuses the book with a youthful vigor one would expect from fairies. Fake Empire is a whodunnit with a supernatural twist that characterizes fairies as detectives and assassins using their talents to solve the mystery of the death of their sister.

Fake Empire is available now.