Sunday, April 3, 2011

CBR III Review #7 - Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

"Perhaps women wear low necklines to filter out the gentlemen from the dogs. Those few who can still manage eye contact, even in the presence of breasts like these, might actually have some potential."

I’ve only recently gotten into the graphic novel/comics game, and I’m loving it.  Admittedly, Buffy Season 8 was my gateway drug into this world (I couldn’t deal with having no more new Buffy in my life!), but I’ve moved onwards and upwards from there.  Watchmen amazed me.  My fiancĂ© and I have a group of friends with an incredibly extensive collection of comics and graphic novels.  Dan likes to game with the group of them, and I that’s not really my bag.  So when we go over there and they start gaming, I’ll wander over to the wall, pick up an interesting volume, and settle in to read.  They’ve gotten me hooked on a number of titles, so when they recommended the Fables series, I decided to give them a go.

Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile is essentially the origin story film of any multi picture series.  LiE takes the time to introduce the reader to the world of Fabletown, where exiled characters from your favorite fairy tales and fables have come to live.  It’s set in real world NYC, and the characters live in their own neighborhood, within their own set of laws.  An entity known as The Adversary came to their homeland and brutally slaughtered what it could and forced the exile of those who could manage to escape.

Fabletown is ruled by Old King Cole, who is assisted by Snow White, and their sheriff is none other than the Big Bad Wolf.  These, however, are not the characters the way you know them.  They riff on the original source material, but each character gets a modern, three dimensional life to them that fairy tales tend to lack.  Snow White and Prince Charming are divorced due to his infidelity, and Snow is trying to keep her party girl sister, Rose Red, out of trouble.  This volume follows the investigation of Rose Red’s apparent murder.

The story is well paced and well developed.  A number of characters are introduced here, but not so many that you feel overwhelmed keeping track of them all (therefore avoiding being Ratnerfucked, so to speak).  It takes some time to let you get to know these versions of the characters, and to understand the world they live in, that way you can adjust your expectations accordingly.

A nice bonus feature to my edition was a short story tagged on the end of the comics about The Big Bad Wolf and Snow White.  This takes place just before the exile and fills in some really fascinating history for the characters, as well as for the central conflict with The Adversary.  I also enjoyed the difference in tonality here – whereas the rest of the comics read like, well, comics, this short read more like one of the fairy tales that these characters were pulled from, just grittier.  It was a creative way to share a little more story without having to add another section to the comics themselves.

All in all, a really fun read!  I plan on moving forward in the series to see what happens to these characters.  I highly recommend it to those of you who really enjoy fairy tales.

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