Graphic Novel Review: ‘Fables vol. 1’ by Bill Willingham et. al.

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in ExileFables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars  (see disclaimer below, this rating is for the digital version!)

Every time this series has been recommended to me, it’s been paired with ‘Sandman.’ Like, oh, you like ‘Sandman’? Hey, you’d probably like ‘Fables!’

At least in this first volume, I don’t see a lot of parallels between Gaiman’s work and what’s happening here. In my mind, ‘Fables Vol. 1’ is a procedural with supernatural elements, with a more complicated world, and of course rich characters, that we’ve only just scratched the surface of. (If you’re not reading a comic produced by one of the big publishers at least half for character development, you’re doing it wrong. Plot is not what makes 95% of superhero comics stand out. That said, Vertigo is DC’s darker, more ‘adult’ imprint.)

I’m not enough of a sophisticated comic book reader to have much of an opinion about the art. It’s good as far as I can tell, nothing exceptionally out of the ordinary but then again, in one volume, you’re not seeing a lot. My only complaint is that I don’t understand why all the ‘come hither’ looks involve serious lip biting, but the blood looks solid and the artists know their media. No need to pick up Scott McCloud’s primer here.

Also, disclaimer: this lost a star because I read the digital version. Unfortunately, Amazon’s formatting made it impossible to see some of the details worth ogling in anything presented with art of this caliber. It’s convenient, but they only offer a way to enlarge the word bubbles, which kills the double-page spreads.

As I mentioned above, comic books like this are as much–if not more–about character development as they are about story.

The characters are solid. The main guy is “Bigby” (Big B., get it?) Wolf, who’s the stereotypical gritty detective…except for that small detail where he’s actually a wolf oh, and he’s got a complicated backstory relating to the whole mass exodus of the Fables from their home. (I’m sure watching that plot unfold will be interesting.) The other main character in this is Snow White, and she’s so busy being angry that I didn’t scrutinize her personality much. It was too much fun to watch.

The ending wasn’t that surprising, but again, what makes the whole thing work is the way they’ve chosen to personify everyone. If you enjoy modern twists on fairytales, fantasy, and some mix of a detective story, and you’re not hell-bent on reading something you’ve never, ever read before, you’ve come to the right place.

View all my reviews


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