This comic book has sat on my shelves unread for 4 years now, and I feel a fool for having done so. The sellers at the comic bookshop I frequent highly recommended it to me, and I bought it assuming it would be like the fairytale TV show, Once Upon a Time. But I was hesitant to start it thinking I wouldn’t like it since I wasn’t feeling the cover or the illustrations within, so imagine my surprise when I was blown away by this volume and had to immediately run to the store to grab the second one.
(And that’s why I shouldn’t judge books by their covers, lol!)
Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, illus. by Lan Medina with inks by Steve Leialoha & Craig Hamilton and colors by Sherilyn van Valkenburgh
When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the “mundys,” their name for normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society that they call Fabletown. From their exclusive luxury apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, these creatures of legend must fight for their survival in the new world.
Fables is the winner of 14 Eisner Awards and is one of the most enduring Vertigo titles ever. Here, in this new, 10th anniversary edition, is a newly colored 8-page story from the Fables prose work Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, as well as a beautiful new cover from series artist Mark Buckingham.
Collecting: Fables #1-5 (Goodreads)
I love it, and I want more. I can’t remember if I read reviews of Fables prior to purchasing it, but I didn’t know what to expect going in. I just assumed it would be like the TV show Once Upon a Time. But instead, I got something better.
Fables is a fantasy comic book series about characters from various fairytales, nursery rhymes, and folklores living in our world. The fairytale lands were once separate, but when an entity called the Adversary began invading and conquering their lands, the fairytale inhabitants began to unite. The Adversary drove the fairytale natives, called Fables, out their homelands causing them to seek refuge in our world — in present-day (early 2000s or so, when the comics were first published) New York, to be specific. Fables who can pass as humans live in a secret community in NYC called Fabletown, while the nonhuman ones live in an area in upstate New York called the Farm. To keep the peace between Fables, a covenant was formed.
In addition to giving us that backstory and introducing us to some key characters — Bigby Wolf, Snow White, Rose Red, Jack (of the beanstalk), Prince Charming, Blue Beard, etc., — this volume is also a whodunit. The volume begins with Jack rushing to Fabletown’s headquarters (that’s how I think of the place) to report a horrible crime involving Rose Red. He reports this to head of security, Bibgy Wolf, who notifies the director of operations, Snow White (Rose Red’s sister), and begins his investigation.
A whodunit was not what I expected when I picked up this comic. Actually, this whole story was a big-ass surprise that I enjoyed every minute of. The characters are great, and I like how the creators went about incorporating the various fairytale characters into the story. Bigby was an immediate favorite for me. I would never have imagined the big bad wolf to be reformed or a detective. And I love that Prince Charming is a broke playboy. Pinocchio cracked me up — poor dude is stuck as a boy forever and can’t get laid, lol!
I enjoyed the dialogue as well and the bits of humor throughout. I’m hoping for more dialogue between Bigby and the pig. I really enjoyed that pairing, although we only see them interact once in this volume. Bigby and Snow White is a good pairing too; I liked their chemistry. As for the mystery — what happened to Rose Red and who did it — it had me hooked, and I like that it’s used as a way to introduce us to other characters, like Bluebeard who’s quite intimidating. But even if there wasn’t a mystery at the center of this volume, I think I would have been hooked anyway because the characters interest me and the levity in the dialogue helps to make it an entertaining read.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of the illustration style. I put off reading the comic for a long time because I didn’t like the cover (yep, I’m weirdly picky like that) and didn’t like the illustration style or the paper quality. I don’t like newsprint.
However, the illustrations are very well done and superbly drawn and grew on me over time. I like the character designs, specifically Snow White, Bigby, and Bluebeard. Snow White exudes corporate culture in every scene, and Bigby makes me think of detectives from Law & Order what with his trench coat and chain smoking. Bluebeard is probably my favorite. He reeks of quiet menace and intimidation, even before we see him intimidate anyone. He seems the most self-assured, him and Snow White.
My copy has a short story in the back — “A Wolf in the Fold” — which gives us more backstory on Bigby (I assume it’s Bigby back when he was the big bad wolf) as well as the Fables’ escape to the modern world. It’s worth the read. I wonder who Feathertop is.
There’s also a snippet from Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, which I’d love to get a copy of. We get “The Price of a Happy Ending,” which focuses on Peter Piper and Bo Peep as assassins!! 😆 I need more!!
And there also seems to be a spin-off from Fables called Fairest about the women from fairytales and folklores. I’d love to read that too.
It’s an easy 5 stars and a favorite. It wasn’t what I expected and I wasn’t a fan of the art when I began, but I enjoyed every minute of it and it’s well done. I look forward to reading the next volume.
Btw, I had no idea Snow White had a sister named Rose Red. At first, I thought Rose Red was Little Red Riding Hood. Then, I thought the creators of the comic made her up. But then I googled the name and found the fairytale about Snow White and Rose Red, a bear, and an ungrateful dwarf, and then I was like “Ohhh…”
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I’m tempted to buy those editions that collect a bunch of the volumes in one book.