I’ve heard so much about this one, and finally found it available at the library (of all places). From wayyyyyyy back in 2002 comes the first five volumes of Fables. Overall, I was pretty pleased, but wasn’t blown away. The ideas were very cool, and seeing the old characters from the fairy tales in the modern world was a new take, but I’ve read so much “Fantasy in a modern setting” fiction, and written some as well, that it takes something special to really pique my interest. American Gods and Anansi Boys had Gaiman’s eerily child-like style, and there were even bits and pieces in Sandman that were better executed.Examples of other graphic examples abound too: Hellboy, the Norse pantheon (old) in Marvel comics, and the Greek pantheon in DC.
But enough of the bashing. I’d still recommend this graphic to anyone who likes stories with a fantastic bend. The characters are the key piece (big surprise) and I feel in a lot of ways, Willingham does better with the character translations than some other examples I’ve listed. They’re a bit blunt and straightforward, but than can be refreshing in a fairytale story. You don’t have to guess at anything.
Bigby, aka the Big Bad Wolf, is easily the most enjoyable character in a pretty strong cast. He’s the reluctant sheriff of Fabletown, reformed from his pig-chasing days (One of the three pigs even crashes on his couch for a night) and leading the charge to solve the murder of red rose. Bluebeard, which is a Fable I wasn’t previously familiar with. Its based off of La Barbe Bleu, a French fairytale about a nobleman who has a bad habit of killing his wives. Charming fellow. He was chilling, from the callous way he wounds Cinderella during fencing practice and his blatant coveting of Rose Red. Snow White was pretty badass, but fairly one-dimensional. Plus she shuns Bigby at the end, which is total crap.ANd then there’s Prince Charming, who’s divorced more than one princess, Snow White included, and essentially whores his way around the world, leeching off any woman he can wink at, from servers to royalty.
The little details, like the inclusion of the Jabberwocky-slaying Vorpal sword (wielded expertly by Snow White), the sad state of most of the Royal Fables as they had to abandon their fortunes to escape to Fabletown from the hated Adversary, and the everyday problems so many of the Fables face that we all can relate to like Snow White’s struggle to fund the government infrastructure, Beauty and Beasts marital issues,and King Cole’s incompetence as a leader.
It all adds together for some good fun, and a new addition to my top ten characters list: Bigby the Big Bad Wolf. Have I seen similiar approaches that were a bit more subtle and better executed? Yes. Would I still recommend checking Fables out? Yes. You can never have enough of a good thing.
4 out of 5 delicious, crispy, I-blew-down-your-house strips of bacon.