Fables: Volume 1 and 2

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fables 1: Legends in Exile 
by Bill Willingham 

The premise of Fables is pretty well known at this point, not because of the graphic novels themselves, but because of the TV show Once Upon a Time. They are not the same thing, but Fables (which came first) shares the same basic story. Fairy tale characters have been transplanted from their home world into our world. They have no way of getting back and have to make it here without their fortunes and castles, etc. 

I've been hearing about this series for a while and I'm so glad I finally checked it out. The fable characters live in a secret society of sorts in New York City. The Big Bad Wolf runs the community's security. Old King Cole is the Mayor and Snow White serves as the Deputy Mayor. This volume deals with the disappearance of Snow's sister Rose Red. 

The characters are snarky and fun. I love the way they play with the assumed ideas about them, like Prince Charming, who is a womanizer in Fables instead of a hero. Yes, the art is definitely stereotypical comic book style. Maybe we can one day have good female characters who aren't ridiculous caricatures of what a woman actually looks like, but it's a small complaint when the story is this fun.  

BOTTOM LINE: So far I love the series and I can't wait to read more.  

Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm 
Bill Willingham 

Volume two picks up exactly where the last one let off. Rose Red and her accomplice/boyfriend are working off their community service hours for their antics in Vol. One. Red’s sister Snow White is about to make a trip to The Farm, where the non-human fables live, and she decides Red needs to come along for the ride. At the Farm, the sisters quickly realize something is wrong. A revolution is happening and they’ve arrived at the worst possible moments. In the midst of the chaos we meet Goldilocks, the three little pigs and a slew of characters from The Jungle Book.  

The second volume is less about introductions and more about developing the established relationships, especially between the two estranged sisters. Their history is a complicated one and makes more sense with each new revelation. I particularly love the fact that from these first volumes, the author doesn’t rely on romantic relationships to drive every story. The two strong women at the forefront of the story are interesting enough on their own and the author trusts the reader to appreciate that. 

BOTTOM LINE: I’m sold. I think the series is so well done. I love the variety of characters that are featured. It could rely completely on the novelty of such characters in each new volume, but instead it takes the assumptions that we have and tosses them out the window. Each character is given new life in the Fables series and I’m excited to see what happens next. 

Two other great reviews of the series at You've GottaRead This and Iris' blog. 

Also, Kailana wrote a great post about the order of the series. I'll definitely be referring back to this as I read more of the volumes. 

Last thing, I found a Wikipedia just for Fables! I won't be reading any spoilers on it, but it might come in handy for fans of the comics.  


Kailana said...

Yay! So glad you are reading and enjoying Fables. In a way it is the best time because there is an end, so you know where you have to get to. :) I hope you continue to enjoy the series!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kailana - I can't wait to read the rest!

Rudejasper said...

This was the first series of Graphic Novels and I think it was a great starting place. They're engaging but also showed me what comics could be. I've read through volume 18 now and they have ripped my heart out while also still making me laugh and pretty consistently surprising me. Great review!

Belle Wong said...

I just finished volume 2 before the holidays, and just loved it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series too.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I actually didn't know what these were about but I think I'm a bit more intrigued now (I mean, I knew they were based on popular characters but didn't realize they were transplanted with no way to return). I'm really interested in reading these but SO intimidated by how many there are!! Glad to see your endorsement.

Andi said...

Huzzah! I did my masters thesis on the first five trade volumes, and I LOVE this series!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Stephanie - What a great first GN series to start with! Mine was Watchmen and then very quickly after that I found Maus.

Belle - Yay! Glad I'm not the only one just discovering the series.

Trish - I wasn't sure where to start, which is why it took me so long. Kailana's post is helpful and the whole series reminds me a lot of Once Upon a Time.

Andi - Seriously? That is beyond awesome!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I've also been reading them faithfully (March of the Wooden Soldiers was sooo good).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alex - I have so much to look forward to!