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Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile Comics – December 1, 2002
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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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1. Severe overuse of characters lighting a cigarette to show off how hard-boiled they are.
2. Cameo nonsense. Some people might find the repeated references to fairy tales enjoyable, but I definitely felt beaten over the head. "Hi Jack. Climbed any beanstalks lately?" You know, so we'll know which Jack this is. "Never mention the dwarves" being a warning about what you just don't say to Snow White. Etc.
3. Overuse of emphasis with bold lettering. I'm thinking this might be a comic thing that I'm just oversensitive to since I tend not to read a whole lot of American graphic novels, but anytime something was either stressed or significant, it was bolded. It got tiring.
4. For some reason I get really annoyed when regular people, whatever "regular" people are in some fantastical reality, are called "mundanes." In this series, not only are normal people called mundanes, but they're called "mundys" for short. Just something I'm tired of.
5. Critical levels of as-you-know-Bob. Characters' pasts are filled in with awkward dialogue. "You remember when you did such and such?" / "Shut up, you can't hold that against me, that was before the amnesty!" Or Snow White feels prompted to explain exactly how the balance of power works between the "actual" mayor of Fabletown (King Cole) and herself (second-in-command) because someone she's talking to points out that she's not the mayor. Occasionally this is lampshaded ("Your sister, Rose Red." "I'm not entirely an idiot. I actually know my own sister's name."--that sort of thing), but I had shoehorned-in exposition squirting out my ears before the first chapter was over.
Add in the fact that I'm not a fan of detective stories anyway--especially "and this is how I figured it all out" endings--and you get to conclude I didn't care for this. The art itself was fine, though sometimes the emotion seemed detached from the dialogue. I'm still going to read the second one because a) sometimes comics get better as they relax into their world, and b) my friend lent me both, so I'll read both.
In one word you could define this book as `cliche`
There was no depth to the characters... I kept stepping over the characters dialogue as I the predictable storyline had already played out in my head.
While the storyline was not written for adults it contained a lot of adult themes. If they would have toned down the sex and violence it would be an excellent graphic for kids.
I highly recommend Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Sandman, and Transmetropolitan.
When I first read that tagline I thought "Sweet"! But then I got the book and that's where the hijinks ended and my tears began. The writing is mediocre...huge chunks of the story are told in blocky, awkward narration. "Show, Don't Tell" is apparently a technique this writer never learned in Generic Writing School. The entire first fourth of the book is basically a retelling, almost page by page, of a story we have ALREADY read before in the main Fables story. If this had been a monthly it would mean that basically the first issue would have been a retread. I would have seen red if I had bought it.
The story is riddled with plot holes. One of the key characters regenerates after being burnt to a crisp because of his werewolf blood...but later in the book it's shown that actually werewolves are terrified of fire because it's one of the few things that can hurt them! Say what? What an amateurish mistake.
Bigby meets an old friend, who confesses to terrible, savage crimes and he just shrugs it off as if it was no big deal. This character's wife by the way, is an old enemy of Bigby which he despised deeply...but apparently he's forgotten all about it since it's never mentioned again. The depiction of this couple's first meetings and eventual joining together to create a werewolf town are so terribly written you will struggle not to laugh.
The only redeeming feature of this work is the art. It's nice and original...reminds me a lot of a discount P. Craig Russell. However, even the art is not without its faults since inexplicably the artist chooses to illustrate every single inhabitant of Wolf Town in the exact same Aryan way so you'll basically have no idea who's who.
Not that it matters. Only 13 year olds would be engrossed by this story. I lost interest in the 10th page and just read it the whole thing because of a grim determination to getting my money's worth. Quite frankly I cannot wait to donate this to a local library and get it out of my sight.
Do not recommend in any way, shape or form.
P.S. I just remembered another thing about the art: near the end of the story...for absolutely NO REASON at all a different artist draws two pages. It's jarring enough to make you wince and I have no idea why it happened. Usually fill in artists are hired to illustrate monthly books because the main artist is behind on schedule. This graphic novel wasn't a monthly publication. It's a stand-alone work written and drawn completely before release. Why in God's name would they need a fill-in artist? This just add to the overall amateurish aspect of the whole thing.
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.