Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile

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Title: Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile
Author: Bill Willingham
Artists: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Year: 2001
Genre: fairy tales
Rating: 4/5 stars

When the land of fairy tales, folklore, and legends is invaded by a big bad just known as “the Adversary,” its inhabitants (referred to as “fables” throughout) are forced into exile in modern-day New York. The more human looking characters gravitate to New York City, where they build a secret community, Fabletown, in “The Woodland Luxury Apartments.” Old King Cole has been voted mayor, but it’s Snow White who puts in the work needed to keep things running (relatively) smoothly.

Snow has some problems, sure… her office runs on donations from the fables, most of whom have left their riches back home, so there’s never enough money. It’s a constant battle to keep the fables secret from the “mundies” (including a particularly amusing incident in which relationship problems between Beauty and the Beast result in the Beast turning, well, quite a bit more beastly and less able to pass for normal in New York City). And then there’s her rocky relationship with sister, Rose Red: the wild child, party girl who slept with Snow’s ex-husband, Prince Charming. Snow is hyper-competent and manages all of it with aplomb.

Until… Rose Red goes missing, leaving behind nothing but a bloody, trashed apartment, and two very shady suspects: her erstwhile lover Bluebeard (you know, the wife-killer) and the ne’er-do-well Jack, of beanstalk fame, her current boyfriend. Rose enlists the help of Bigby Wolf (i.e. the Big Bad Wolf, who here is, I guess, a werewolf (?) and has a pretty chummy relationship with at least one of the three little pigs) who runs security for Fabletown to find out what happened to Red. From there, it’s a snappy little detective story that serves as a nice introduction to the characters in Fabletown (including Prince Charming, broke and a cad, seducing and living off of unsuspecting women, and, hilariously, a horny Pinocchio who is none-t00-pleased about being trapped in the body of a “real boy” forever).

Fables was a whole lot of fun. The author plays around with with these well-known characters in clever, witty ways that more often than not delighted me. The mystery element was a bit meh, but I think it was more of a structure for introducing the reader to this world more than anything. All in all, it was good fun. I’m looking forward to reading more!

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