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4.3 out of 5 stars
Fables: Legends in Exile, Vol. 1
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113 of 127 people found the following review helpful
i first read this collection a few months ago. i was delighted that willingham had this amazing idea...but the problem seems to be in execution for the first book...the story is kind of like a pulpy detective series...even down to a parlour scene in which the hero explains how he solved the crime...the reason i've only given it 3 stars and that i say it's a good start is because:

a) it is in fact enjoyable...

b) i've caught up and read the rest (and they get better each volume)

c) i want you to read it.

stepping away from this book for a moment, this series is entirely worthy of your time and money if you ever enjoyed fairy tales...willingham masterfully takes what were once 2 dimensional characters and gives them personality...the problem is that you can't (or shouldn't) read the story without starting here...i highly recommend the series, but this is the worst book in it...
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Recently, I have found myself being drawn closer and closer to the world of Graphic Novels. Now, I do not speak of the ones that the teenie boppers are clobbering themselves over, but instead the dark sinister tales that are being woven by some of the masters of the trade. I am speaking of Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Jamie Delano. Now, with the greatest of comfort, I can add Bill Willingham to that list. I know there are probably more (possibly better) graphic novel artists out there, but these are the foundation on which I am building up from. I know they can only get better from here.

But, back to Bill Willingham. After my wife graduated with a Master's in Children's Literature, and even sometime before, I began to see the utter chaos and darkness surrounding these tales that help the youth of our future sleep at night. They have been glossed over in years past by the subliminal corporation known as Disney, and lost that eerie creep factor that they long deserved. You cannot tell me that Alice in Wonderland is a colorful story that should be told to every three-year-old out there ... I don't think I could say that. In my eye I have always envisioned it as this dark hole that she falls into, a sinister nightmare that I think has only been captured well on film by famed director Jan Svankmajer. Now, with Willingham's writing, I can see that darkness emerge again.

Fables: Legends in Exile is a perfect introductory to the new world of infamous children's characters. After fleeing their homeland, these magical and mysterious people have been forced to find refuge in none other than NYC. Here, Willingham takes us through mazes of people as we learn their rituals, their magic, and their secrets. In this first book we learn about the murder of Rose Red, Snow White's sister, in a classic "who-dun-it" mystery with our very own gumshoe played by Mr. Wolf.

I enjoyed this graphic novel for several reasons. The first is the intermingling of classic characters with the real world. Those who use this as a central focus to their stories normally capture my attention quickly. For so long we have stared at these characters, watching their lives unfold as we sit on our couches or bed, it is nice to see them up and walking around in our world now. Also, by brining them into the real world you give them the opportunity to be more than just one-dimensional characters. They curse, lie, steal, have sex, and all those dark, gritty things that you would have never imagined as a child.

Second, the story was simple yet effective. While I thought the ending left a bit of cheese on the table, overall I was impressed with this first outing. The storied moved briskly, yet left enough open for more stories to follow. I loved this world Willingham created for me, and I cannot wait to go back into it with the second book. It was this sense that I was getting to know the characters and couldn't wait to revisit them again.

Finally, the artwork was perfection on paper. I am continually impressed by the work that graphic artists do to not bring in so much light on the page, but instead show the world in the dismal state of which we live. It is an honest novel that has just as much creativity and passion as you would see in any film.

I loved it, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into graphic novels (like I am doing) or to anyone that just loves to read an original tale involving those characters that we assumed we knew. I cannot wait to read it again!

Grade: ***** out of *****
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2004
Fairy tales are real. They have a life of their own. Unfortunately, most of the fairy tale lands have been taken over by a villain known as the Adversary. As a result, the characters have fled to our world where they lead a hidden existence in New York. Most have been here for centuries. The main settlement is a colony on Bullfinch street. King Cole is in charge but Snow White really runs things. The sheriff is the Big Bad Wolf (a.k.a. Bigby).

At the start of the story, there is a crisis. Snow White's sister Rose Red has been murdered. Bigby must try and solve the murder while the community is planning for their annual festival where they raise the money needed to operate for another year.

Jack the Giant Killer, Prince Charming, the Three Pigs, Bluebeard. Little Boy Blue, Beauty and the Beast, and many others come together in this wonderful treatment of fairy tales. It doesn't hurt that the mystery is well plotted and developed. A very entertaining read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Fables: Legends in Exile reprints the first 5 issues of the Vertigo Comics' series, Fables. The concept of the series is well done, original, and interesting. The classic fairy tale figures of legend were driven from their lands by a mysterious creature named "the Adversary". Left with no choice but leave their lands or die, the Fables fled to New York City, living in secret, judging, policing, and governing themselves.

This volume centers around the question, ` Who murdered Rose Red?" The beloved sister of Snow White is violently murdered, her apartment soaked in blood, her body missing. Immediately Snow White, who is now the Deputy Mayor of the Fable community enlists the help of Bigby Wolf, who is now the Sheriff. Together, they sort through a very unusual list of suspects, including Bluebeard, Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk), and Prince Charming himself.

Personally, I love this volume and Willingham's take on the characters. Happy ever after rarely means just that, everyone has distinct personalities that are more mature and devolved than the original fairy tales had time to discuss, and the characters are flawed. It makes for a brilliantly fun read.

The only word of caution I have is this story has adult language and sexual situations, so keep that in mind when determining appropriateness. But for every adult out there, this is a great, fun graphic to read, with nice art and an original prose story by Willingham " A Wolf in the Fold".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What if all the characters from your beloved fairy tales lived here in our world, in New York City? Welcome to the world of Bill Willingham's award-winning Vertigo series Fables.

The premise is simple. Centuries ago* all of the Fables were driven from their lands by The Adversary, winding up in our world. They congregated in the New World, setting up their own community among us where they have been living ever since in relative peace. As a founding principle of their community, all sins commited in the Homeland are forgiven--you start out in Fabletown with a clean slate. No one embodies this fact more than Bigby (Big Bad) Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown and the main protagonist of the series (or at least this first volume, anyway.)

Boring as this job usually is, Bigby has his work cut out for him this time. Rose Red--sister of Deputy Mayor Snow White--has been murdered, her apartment trashed and splattered in blood, and everyone is a suspect, from her estranged sister to her ne'er-do-well boyfriend Jack (of Beanstalk and Giant-Killer fame) to Bluebeard, the richest man in Fabletown with a reputation for murdering his wives. No one can be trusted and nothing is as it seems as Bigby tries to get to the bottom of the case.

The bonus prose story at the back of the collection, A Wolf In The Fold, was also excellent. It details the backstory of Bigby around the time of the Invasion, his first meeting with Snow and Rose, and how he came to be a mostly-accepted member of the Fables community, as well as the origin of his lycanthropy.

Willingham has created something truly awesome here, taking characters we all know, as well as less familiar ones like Bluebeard, and putting a different spin on them. I'll avoid spoilers, for the most part here. Some memorable characters we are introduced to here include:
-Bigby "Big Bad" Wolf: Sheriff of Fabletown and a werewolf (or more accurately a werehuman, as a wolf is his original form.) In the Homelands he was a feared beast before the Adversary came, at which point he became a severe thorn in the enemy's side.
-Snow White: Deputy Mayor of Fabletown, first ex-wife of Prince Charming. King Cole, the Mayor, handles the ceremony and gladhanding; Snow handles the dirty business of keeping things running.
-Prince Charming: A serial womanizer and ex-husband of a number of Fable princesses. He has been spending most of his time in Europe, mooching off of the royalty there, but seems to have outstayed his welcome....
-Jack: Rose Red's feckless boyfriend, always up to one get-rich-quick scheme or another. Former owner of some magic beans, among other claims to fame.
-Bluebeard: The richest man in Fabletown. In the Homelands he had a habit of killing his wives on their wedding night. He can't be charged for this given the General Amnesty that holds the Fables community together, but everyone can't help but wonder if he has returned to old habits.
Other characters drop in and out, possibly becoming important in later volumes. Beauty and the Beast make an appearance, still together although when Belle gets annoyed with him Beast's curse will begin to reappear. Little Boy Blue shows up as Snow's assistant. Cinderella shows up briefly, being trained in swordplay by Bluebeard. Assorted other fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters make up the supporting cast, from goblins to one of the Three Little Pigs.

Content: This is a series from DC's Vertigo line, intended for adults. Its firmly rated R, though maybe not so much as others from that house such as Preacher or anything written by Alan Moore.
Language: R. Not on the level of a Tarantino flick, but assorted uses of the "F-bomb."
Violence: PG-13. Some fencing, the aftermath of a grisly murder (though no body is in evidence), and references to a character being tortured. Not too bad.
Sexual content: hard PG-13/mild R. We see a couple having sex, but there's no nudity.

*It would seem that the Fables are functionally immortal, though they can be killed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2004
Subverting expectations and inverting cliches is one thing, but Fables is also a book with heart underneath its undeniable style.
The art by Lan Medina is deceptively good: at first glance it looks fairly standard but covers all the basics of storytelling, creates some interesting visuals and is attractive to look at. More importantly it serves the story and is one of the major reasons it works so well.
But the book is all about the story. Willingham takes a good premise and runs with it. The characters are engaging and seem human, despite their origin. The climax of the story is a little staged and generic, but everything else about the story (including the actual explanation) sparkles. Overall, one of the best Vertigo books of recent years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bill Willingham's FABLES series have received immense acclaim in the last few years as an original idea that appeals to all sorts of readers. The basic premise is that all of our favorite characters from the old fairy tales have been driven from their old homes and have taken up residence in New York City. These characters from legend do not always have the personality or history you'd expect from reading the old stories. Prince Charming is a notorious ladies man and moocher, who cheated on Snow White with Snow's own sister Rose Red. The prince who was cursed to live as a frog until a beautiful princess kissed him appears to have picked up some rather disgusting habits during his days as an amphibian (and thus earns the name 'Flycatcher'). Beauty and the Beast have some marital problems with rather dramatic effects on their happiness and the Beast's looks. And so on.. Willingham has created an intriguing world where he can develop characters from old tales into more believably fallible people. The rather risque behavior of some of the characters and the [almost] explicit nature of occasional sex scenes make these stories for a more mature audience than the tales these characters come from.

In this first volume, Willingham introduces a wide array of characters and hints at some extraordinarily entertaining stories to come. The only reason I'm giving this volume a 4-star rating is that the primary storyline (Who Killed Rose Red?) isn't very good, being predicable and non-engaging. It seems that Bill began with this rather dull story to give the reader the feel of day-to-day life in Fabletown and to allow introduction of many or its residents. Snow White and Bigby Wolf are especially well-developed here and will likely take on primary roles in the other FABLE titles.

The most attractive aspect of the FABLES series is the humanization of creatures and characters from storybooks that we read as children. Rose Red as a party girl and the Big Bad Wolf as a chain-smoking, no-nonsense detective are strangely attractive.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2006
This reprint of the first few issues of "Fables" serves as an introduction to the Fables' world. All the characters of fairy tale and legend are real, and living in New York. They were chased from their alternate worlds where their fairy tale kingdoms were located, by a stock fantasy uber-villain, a vaguely-named "Adversary" with huge armies of orc-like creatures that overran the Homelands. We learn that those Fables who can pass for human live in New York City, while the inhuman ones live on a "farm" upstate. Their community is governed by Old King Cole, with Snow White as his deputy (and for all practical purposes, the real boss). The Big Bad Wolf (who can assume human form) is the Sherrif. The community sticks together under an agreement of amnesty for all deeds performed prior to their emigration from the Homelands.

In this first story, we mostly get a quick introduction to a lot of fairy tale characters cast in this modern setting. Some are central to the plot, like Snow White, Prince Charming, Rose Red, the Wolf, Bluebeard, and Jack (of Beanstalk fame). Others only make cameos this time around: Cinderella, Pinochio, the Witch (from Hansel and Gretel), one of the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue, Beauty and the Beast.... The story itself is just a vehicle to introduce us to the setting.

The ending is not terribly surprising, but delivered with touches of humor, and some additional character development. Elements that were barely touched on (such as the upstate "Farm" for Fables that can't pass for human, the history of the Fables community, the current activities of the Adversary and what is happening back in the Homelands) will no doubt be revisited in future volumes, and of course, you'll be anticipating which fairy tale characters will appear that haven't been introduced yet.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
I figured since this was one of the books in the Amazon kindle book store this book would work well with my Kindle Fire. The problem come when a two page layout is stretched onto one page of my Fire it is unreadable. This has happened twice so far and I am on # 3 of a 5 part book. Seems like the fire should be able to rotate with these books or a simple zoom would work. The pages are already small but I can live with that, the horizontal panels could not be even read with a magnifying glass because the font totally turns to chicken scratch. Overall the story gets a 4.5 and hate that I miss out on these pages and I will not be ordering the next book unless they can get this issue solve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2007
After reading a few reviews of this book, I decided to pick it up on the basis of the fact that it seemed to have been created solely for my enjoyment. Good art, plus noir story, plus fairy tales equals September's true love.

As you've probably read several times already, this story is about a murder happening amongst fairy tale characters that live in the modern world. It features the main characters of Snow White and the Wolf.

Is it as good as all the reviews indicate? Yes, yes, and yes. It's nice to look at, it's a little bit dark, and a little bit funny. It read fast, but not TOO quickly, and I liked it enough that I immediately wanted to reach for a sequel. I read another customer's comment that the Big Bad Wolf comes across as a John Constantine rip-off and that made me giggle, just a little because it's true, but I like John Constantine, and I enjoyed the wolf.

There was a short prose story that was included at the end. Though I ususally detest such things, I ate it up and wished it had been longer or its own novel. That is high praise indeed considering I resent prose stories included with graphic novels for the pages they take up.

Why then only four stars then when I'm essentially the target audience for this comic? Two (and a half) reasons. One, I guessed the ending which is sad. See, I can never guess mystery endings. I always wonder who did it until the very end. If I'm guessing your ending, your ending was obvious and spelled out from the very beginning. Perhaps that's what the author intended. Also, did the ending leave anything changed? Barely.

Two, the art is not as good as I'd wish. Of course, my favorite comic book art is in Aria Volume 1: The Magic Of Aria, so considering that, I guess a lot of other art fails. I know others have lauded the art, and it's good, just not as good as I hoped for.

Either way, I'd recommend this book for 'graphic novel' fans, and I'll be picking up sequels.
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