Book Review: Fables, volumes 1 – 3

Fables (volumes 1 – 3) by Bill Willingham

I have quickly fallen in love with the Fables graphic novel series. By the end of volume 1, “Legends in Exile”, I was pretty sure it was just a crush. After reading volume 2, “Animal Farm,” I realized my feelings had deepened and that this just might be the start of a serious relationship. And now, three volumes in, after reading “Storybook Love”, I know it’s the real thing. I’m hooked.

Fables, written by Bill Willingham, is a DC Comics series that originally appeared in comic book format, now compiled in trade paperback volumes. So far, 17 volumes are available in print, with volume #18 due for publication in January of 2013.

Fables tell the story of fairy tale and other assorted mythical and magical characters, forced to flee their homelands after the invasion of the Adversary (about whom we know nothing so far, other than the fact that he’s unstoppable and ruthless. If you’ve read further in the series than I have — hush! I don’t want to know.) The survivors have taken refuge in our world — more specifically, Manhattan — where they live a secret life, concealing their magic from the mundys (that’s us, folks).

The mayor of the Manhattan Fable town is Old King Cole, but he’s merely a figurehead. The true authority lies with deputy mayor Snow White (our fearless heroine!), backed up by sheriff and overall enforcer Bigby Wolf (Big B. Wolf — get it?), whose gruff human exterior hides a predator with a core of integrity. Between the two of them, they ride herd on a mish-mash of misfits, including Little Boy Blue, Prince Charming (such a cad!), the Frog Prince (known as Flycatcher due to his unfortunate snacking habits), and Bluebeard (who reminds me of a really buff version of Walter White of Breaking Bad).

Their less human-looking counterparts reside on a hidden farm in upstate New York, concealed from the outside world, but also chafing under their enforced seclusion. A brilliant plot involving an uprising at the Farm is what truly got me involved in this series. Let’s just say that there’s a lot more to Goldilocks and the three bears than you might assume. And don’t get me started on nasty old Shere Khan either.

Fables is not for children. Mature themes abound, as well as plenty of gruesome deaths, sexy bedroom scenes, conspiracies, deceptions, murder and mayhem. The plotting is detailed and fast-paced, with masterful storytelling at every turn. It’s been a real pleasure for me to discover a tale well-told in a format that’s fresh and engaging. For someone who’s relatively new to the world of graphic novels, I’m really having a ball with this series, and I’m finding it seriously difficult to put Fables down in order to pick up a “real” novel.

Onward we go. So long as I have more volumes of Fables close at hand, it would appear that I’m not going to get anything else done.

 

 

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