Bill Willingham – Fables: Fairest, Vol. 1: Wide Awake
Length: 160 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Started/Finished: 11 March 2013
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Fables! Also, busy time = more comics read.
Sleeping Beauty is
on her tenth or twelfth “true love”
by this stage of things.
Summary: Ali Baba, the Prince of Thieves, is looting a war-ravaged city of the fallen Empire when he runs across a magic bottle. In it is not the genie that he’d hoped for, but instead a bottle imp who cannot grant wishes, but does have a special skill at knowing things. He leads Ali Baba to a goblin camp, wherein lies a powerful weapon: a sleeping princess who can only be awakened by a kiss. But once Ali Baba sneaks into the encampment, he finds not one but two sleeping women: Briar Rose, and the Snow Queen. He wakes the princess, but almost as soon as they escape from the goblins, they find themselves in the clutches of the also-freshly-awakened Snow Queen… the same Snow Queen responsible for centuries’ worth of terrible deeds at the right hand of the Emperor himself.
This volume also includes a one-off noir detective piece in which Beast is out in the Mundy world, tracking a femme fatale who’s a bit more fatale than the typical variety.
Review: The various spin-offs of the main Fables story arc have had varying degrees of success (at least, if we measure success in terms of how much I liked them), with Peter and Max among the best, and the recent Werewolves of the Heartland not really working for me at all. But I think one of the best things about the Fables universe in general is that it offers such seemingly endless possibilities for storytelling; that the universe is fertile and rich enough to provide material for the spin-offs in the first place. I’m not entirely sure how this volume overlaps with the main series – we’ve of course met Briar Rose and the Snow Queen before, but it’s been long enough since I read the main arc that I don’t entirely remember how they wound up in the goblin camp. (Or whether or not we even know how they got there, to tell the truth.) But the good news is, this story stands on its own quite well, and manages to present both a solid re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty origin story, as well as an interesting “modern-day” story in which the Fables from different stories overlap and interact. Plus, there’s just as much action and humor and true love (or maybe just true love’s kiss, which is a whole different matter) as you could wish, plus a Firefly joke or two thrown in for good measure.
I also absolutely loved the artwork in this volume. There’s some creative panelling and great use of color, and the action sequences and battle scenes in particularly are very creatively drawn. But most of all, I absolutely love the issue covers. I would hang a framed print of the picture with Sleeping Beauty and the spinning wheel in my house without a second’s hesitation. Just beautiful. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This volume is perfectly understandable without being up-to-date on the main Fables series, although fans of one are obviously going to enjoy the other, and fans of fairy tales in any form should certainly be reading these books.
Notes: I read this while I was in the middle of Tim Powers’s The Stress of Her Regard, so I was really amused to see lamia show up in the one-off story at the end… especially since I’d never heard of them before starting the book, and then to run across them in two books at once.
First Line: “Ah, this looks like it might be something.”
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