Thursday, June 21, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Fables Deluxe volume 1

Amazon  // Vertigo Fables // Comic Vine

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 normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society-within an exclusive luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side-called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Bigby, Fabletown's sheriff, and a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the culprit is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

This Deluxe Edition collects the first two trade paperbacks of the series, issues 1-10, and Bill Willingham's prose story from Vol. 1, as well as character sketches.

I remember how excited I was for this series back when it first premiered.  It was during the waning time of my comic book obsession, when I was trying NOT to spend $70 a week, but I knew I had to read this.  And I was rewarded with a series that to this day (117+issues and counting) that I enjoy, love and very rarely dislike.

This Deluxe volume covers the First Arc (Rose Red's 'Murder') and the Second Arc (The Farm's Revolution). 

This came out long before the fairy tale shows--Once Upon a Time and Grimm--and I think sets a good standard of what to look for.  Willingham doesn't just give us the notables, he gives us all the fairy tale folks who people forgot.  Gave them real world concerns (if somewhat skewed) and gave us a taste of what happens 'Ever After'.

Arc 1 (Legends in Exile) is not only a good whodunit, but also introduces us to a good portion of the (very) large cast without shoving into our faces who they are.  And what a cast.  More than half the principle cast are the 'villains' of various tales (The Big Bad Wolf aka Bigby, Bluebeard the wife killer...) who don't act how you'd think they would.  Then you have characters like Snow White, who had a mostly passive role in our own tale, but who thrives outside its strictures.

Snow is, and remains to this day, my favorite.  Whether its dealing with her erstwhile philandering ex-husband Prince Charming (thrice divorced!) or giving unintentional advice to Bigby she shines.  And though it seems odd considering my normal type of object of love, Bigby had me from almost the first page.  Maybe because he reminds me of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, but he's so cool.

I also dare you newcomers to guess the ending--all the clues are there if you know what you're looking for.

Arc 2 (Animal Farm) is a much more disturbing, gruesome and unsettling tale.  Paying homage to 'Animal Farm' (in a very literal sense), the fablekind unable to exist in the human world because they're not human live up at a beautiful farm far far away from prying eyes.  Some are okay with this (hey anything's better then the Adversary back in the Homelands) and understand the necessity.  Others...not so much.  And they take a very militant view towards those who don't see it their way.

Shere Khan (Jungle Book?), the 3 Bears (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), the 3 Little Pigs...this is basically their arena.  And honestly, as Snow says, they don't have bad ideas.  They just went about it in the worst way possible.

The extras included are the covers from the individual issues (as well as some variants), some notes and backstory info bites, preliminary sketches of the primary cast and the mock-up of the first statue from DC Direct (you can see it here--warning spoiler for the first Arc).  In all this is well worth the amount I spent on it ($18) and I would have paid retail for it ($30) honestly.

The dust jacket is gorgeous, the book itself also features the artwork (minus all the wordage) and James Jean does phenomenal work in my opinion.  Its not too heavy or unwieldy, though it sucked at times to have to open it just a bit more than I liked to read all the text bubbles.

I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoyed Once Upon a Time, Grimm or Snow White and the Huntsman.  This series only gets better as time goes on!