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Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile Comics – December 1, 2002
From Publishers Weekly
This elaborate fantasy series begins as a whodunit, but quickly unfurls into a much larger story about Fabletown, a place where fairy tale legends live alongside regular New Yorkers. Years ago, fables and fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella "were a thousand separate kingdoms spread over a hundred magic worlds," until they were invaded and driven into hiding and, eventually, into modern-day Gotham. And so, on the city streets we find Beauty and the Beast in trouble with the law and Prince Charming reduced to a broke cad auctioning off his royal title, while his ex-wife, Snow White, rules over the de facto kingdom the fables created. When Snow White's sister, Rose Red, disappears from a blood-soaked apartment, the Wolf, reformed and now the kingdom's house detective, is assigned to the case. Willingham uses the Wolf's investigation to introduce readers to Fabletown's dissolute, hard-luck inhabitants, and he is at his best here, relishing one-liners and spinning funky background information of a world where fairy tale characters spend their time fretting about money and thinking up get-rich schemes. The mystery seems mostly an excuse to delineate Willingham's world, as the caper is easily resolved-in true fairy tale fashion-during a massive ballroom celebration. Willingham's dialogue is humorous, his characterizations are sharp and his plot encompasses a tremendous amount of information with no strain at all. The art, mostly by Medina and Leialoha, is well drawn and serviceable, if somewhat unremarkable, with occasional flares of decorative invention. But it's Willingham's script that carries the tale.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Once upon a time--recently--Jack, not that much older looking than when he climbed the beanstalk, rushes breathlessly into the office of Woodland Luxury Apartments security chief Bigby Wolf to report that his girlfriend Red Rose's Village pad is awash with blood and she is missing. That gives Wolf a case to investigate--a rare occurrence during the centuries that he and other refugees from Fableland have lived in their Manhattan colony since being harried from their world. Of course, Wolf has to put up with his boss, Snow White, long divorced from Prince Charming, dogging his heels because, after all, Rose is her sister. The mystery is solved in a classic Agatha Christie-ish parlor-room confab, displaced to King Cole's penthouse, but not before milking gallons of good entertainment from the conceit of fairy-tale characters as fully human and full of human weaknesses, prominently including lust. Willingham caps the dashingly drawn mainstream-comics-style graphic novel with a prose-only story that accounts for how Wolf got his job. Great fun. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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It's not that I dislike them . . . at least not at this point--I don't have enough experience to definitively state my feelings one way or another. *shrugs awkwardly*
BUT. I've been curious for awhile, and this seemed like a good place to start. I <i>do</i> like pretty pictures, and, hello, <i>fables</i>, so practically guaranteed to like it.
So I one-clicked, then I read the whole thing in a couple hours. I loved it. A LOT.
In this first volume, there was Snow White and Rose Red (one of my childhood favorites), a sword-wielding Cinderella, Prince Charming (at least twice divorced, and a frat boy, dumb dumb, besides), Beauty and the Beast (bickering like an old married couple), a typically creeptastic Bluebeard, Jack of magic beans fame (and a schmoe), a reformed . . . <i>ish</i> Big Bad Wolf, one of the three little pigs (who doesn't like country life), and an understandably angsty Pinocchio (b/c three-hundred+ years old, and stuck in the body of a pre-pubescent boy).
And that's just off the top of my head.
ALSO, this series predates <b><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1843230" target="_blank">Once Upon a Time</a></b> and all the bandwagoners that followed by a decade. So no copycats here, FYI.
After 120ish pages of pretty pictures and dialogue that rarely crossed over the line from basic to clever (or one of a myriad of other adjectives that can be used to describe writing that isn't BLAH), there were a handful of full text pages that gave a rather fantastical accounting of how the two MCs met.
Those six or eight pages were by far my favorite part of the book.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the rest of it--I did. But WORDS, man, WORDS. I don't know what it says about me that words are the more effective communicators, but yeah, all of that <i>"a picture is worth a thousand words,"</i> nonsense is . . . nonsense.
Despite an overt admission of attraction from one of the characters to another, and the various illustrations that accompanied it, it was the subtle longing revealed through words that made me feel the agony of unrequited love more potently than any drawing ever could. The possibility that a beast decided to take human form in order to be closer to the girl whose scent he couldn't forget . . .
<i>Maybe</i>. Then again, maybe he was just sick of running around in the forest and eating the boring humans who were stupid enough to wander the woods of his lackluster new home. #thatwouldsuck
I guess I'll see. <------b/c it's a given that I'll be reading the next one. *winks* Highly recommended, especially to graphic novels noobs who love fairytales.
<b>UPDATE:</b> since finishing Volume 1, I've devoured an embarrassing number of additional installments, and the dialogue has <i>significantly</i> improved. Sometimes it's punny, sometimes it's slyly clever (especially on the social commentary front), but it's rarely BLAH. FYI.
Altogether a fun read with a decent mystery and a worthy use of time. The art work is classic comic book realism but at a high level. Likely I will be buying more, but I cannot see this as a series that will sustain my interest for long. The stable of Bill Williams and Lan Medina has done better with this series than the somewhat parallel world in Fairest. Specifically the writing in Fables is better while the artwork there was more lavish. My opinion is based on a sample of one, but I will get back to you when I read, as I am likely to, Volumes 2 in each set.
The target audience is teens, mostly male. A lead character is Snow White as the real brains and hardest worker in this city of the fabled. So there is something to appeal to the ladies. There is a whiff of sex and more than a little violence. In this Fables keep with the concept once defined by Lenny Bruce, that a pillow used as a weapon to murder pretty ladies is family entertainment, but used to make her more comfortable during sex is gross. That said the mayhem and the ‘icky’ stuff are kept to a minimum and mostly off panel.
Of the various tests on our willingness to suspend disbelief there is one that I do not get. The humans of the Fables come into ‘our’ world as humans, maintaining most of their fairy story characteristics and allowing for the adaptation necessary to survive in ours. The creatures of the fabulist world arrive as creatures and are forced to live up state on a farm where they will not be too out of place. That said we have as the Chief Detective, the Man<?> with a nose for trouble. BigB, aka the Big Bad Wolf. Who walks among us as a man. Part of the extra back story is a re telling of The Big Bad Wolf that does not have him as a shape shifter. He is one in this book and why or how is not made clear.
The author has written a straightforward mystery, but there is irony in the roles the fairytale characters play. The Big Bad Wolf is the private detective hired to solve the murder of Rose Red, party girl and sister to Snow White, assistant to the mayor. Suspects for the murder are Bluebeard and Jack the Giant Killer, Rose Red's boyfriends.
Meanwhile, harassing Snow White for money, Prince Charming is hanging about, flitting from bed to bed while pleading for a loan to tide him over until the time the fairy tale folks decide to fight The Adversary and get their lands back. Snow White regrets that she ever loved the loser, but she arranges for a lottery to be held, the winner of which gets the Prince's title and lands if and when they are able to return to Fableland.
Very cute, and I did not guess who did it!
Most recent customer reviews
Pinocchio say what?!Read more
The artwork is okay, but there is a good amount of content here. Especially with the story at the end of the book.