Bill Willingham – Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Length: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy/Mystery
Started: 28 September 2008
Finished: 29 September 2008
Snow White and the Wolf
solving her sister’s murder.
Fairy tales, grown-up!
Summary: When their homeland was taken over by The Adversary, fairy tale inhabitants fled to New York, where they’ve been living inconspicuously amongst the “mundanes”. This first volume in the series focuses around two main characters – Snow White, the second-in-command of Fabletown, and Bigby Wolf, its de facto sheriff – as they try to figure out what happened to Rose Red, Snow’s half sister… who has gone missing, and whose apartment was found covered in blood. Volume 1 is a collection of the first five issues of the comic.
Review: This is only my third attempt at reading a graphic novel, after Michael Chabon Presents… The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, which I didn’t care for, and The Man Who Grew Young by Daniel Quinn, which I like more for the fact that it’s Quinn’s than the fact that it’s a graphic novel. So, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but since I’ve got several friends who are in a very nerdly kind of love with Fables, I figured I should check them out. And, happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised! The graphic novel aspects of it were good – I followed the layout and the story well, the panel art was detailed and rich (you can see some samples at Amazon), and the cover illustrations by James Jean are phenomenally lovely (you can see more of his work here). What I was really surprised by, however, was the story. The mystery aspect of it was nothing out of the ordinary (a lot of the time is spent introducing characters and world-building), but I wasn’t expecting it to be so funny, both in the sense of overt jokes and in the more subtle way that it poked fun at fairy tale characters and conventions. Similarly, I wasn’t expect there to actual multi-dimensional characters that I cared about. Shoot, there go all of my prejudices about comic book geeks! I’ll be reading the next one in the series, for sure. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This one isn’t for the wee-uns – there’s a fair bit of violence, language, and sex to go around – but for those of us who have grown up on fairy tales, it’s a fun and highly enjoyable new take on some old favorites.