Fables: Legends in Exile

~written by Bill Willingham

Fables is one of the many comic series that has been calling to me for quite some time, and yet I have managed to put off reading them for just as long. Not only does Fables catch my eye every time I'm in the comic shop, it also came highly recommended to me by several people whose opinions I trust. So, when I discovered that the local branch of my public library has the series, I snatched up the first volume, Legends in Exile, which collects issues one through five in addition to a previously unpublished short story.

I absolutely love the premise behind Fables, which is of course introduced in Legends in Exile. Actually, the title gives a pretty good indication of it. Characters of legend, fables, myths, and fairy tales from all of the world have fled to New York, pursued by an entity known only as the Adversary who has taken over their wealth, properties, and homelands. Those that are human seeming live in disguise in New York City with Old King Cole as the Mayor, Snow White as his second in command, and a complete cast of others keeping the refugees together in some semblance of a community known as Fabletown, while their inhuman counterparts remain on a large farm in upstate New York.

Beyond the general introduction to the story so far, there is a murder mystery to be solved by the Fabletown sheriff Bigby Wolf (aka Big Bad Wolf, among other things). Snow White's sister Rose Red has gone missing--her apartment is in shambles and blood is everywhere. Bigby has plenty of suspects, from Rose's on-again off-again boyfriend Jack (of beanstalk and giant-killing infamy), to her lover Bluebeard (yes, that Bluebeard), and even Snow White herself. Overall, the mystery plot-line wasn't that great, but I loved the interactions between characters from completely different stories. Bigby was a personal favorite.

The short story wasn't anything spectacular either, but it was enjoyable. It gives more background for several of the characters, particularly that of the Wolf. None of the characters are explicitly identified, but it's fairly obvious which characters are implied. The story was a lovely addition to the volume and lent a bit more substance to it as a whole.

The artwork is very well done and very consistent (inconsistency is a pet peeve of mine). Completely in color, and generally realistic--these are fairy tales we're talking about--it was a delight to look at. As already mentioned, I love the concept behind Fables. Even though the first volume wasn't a particularly strong introduction to the series, there were enough highlights that I'm definitely going to have to pick up the next volume, Animal Farm.

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