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Fables: Legends in Exile

December 29, 2008

This is a series that I’ve wanted to read for awhile but whenever I went to the comic shops there was always a shinier book that I just had to grab with whatever money I had on me at the time. Or I forgot about it. 

Well, I finally got the the first book in the series for Christmas and I sat down with it this weekend. 

Background: Bill Willingham is the writer/creator of the Fables series. Other notable works by him include Elementals and Ironwood. He basically works on his own created works but he has done some work on DC standbys like Batman, and the Infinite Crisis (whichever) series. Fables first came out in 2002 under the Vertigo label. 

The artist for Volume 1 was Lan Medina. Medina’s main bodies of work include Fables, Aria, and District X. Like many artists he flits between the various comic companies, in this case Vertigo, Image, and Marvel. 

The particular book I have is comprised of the first five issues of the Fables series. 

The Comic: Legends in Exile is a classic “whodunnit” story. Instead of having normal humans trying to figure out the mystery Fables features various characters from classic folk tales. The backstory is that someone called the “Adversary” took over the varied realms that folk tale characters lived in. Those who survived made their way to our world where they live in Exile. Some of the characters in this tale include Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Jack (of beanstalk lore), and Prince Charming to name a few. 

The mystery for the book is that Jack finds Rose Red’s apartment covered in blood (hers it turns out). The Wolf is now the main detective for the exiled folk tale creatures and he takes up the case. Mystery ensues, clues, various back story. In the end the Wolf has a parlour room moment where he describes who, what, where, why, and how the crime happened. 

Medina’s art was refreshing after the oddity that was Arkham Asylum. In fact, it was so nice to see that I might be giving it bonus points just because it’s not AA. The style that he gave Fables feels very old school, which is  nice. He really provides details though and it doesn’t feel like anything is missed. While his backgrounds are good, his characters (human form) really espouses their various characteristics. It’s a fun little treat to look at.

I wouldn’t describe the writing as particularly genius but it’s good. Willingham moves the story along and despite the brevity of 5 issues a whole story is told and it doesn’t feel like anything is lost in the process. To be honest Fables isn’t going to break any new ground or really shock the comic world (I doubt it did when it first came out) but the writing is fun and the story recognizable to any fan of mystery novels or movies. 

The thing that makes this book a good read is that it’s fun. The Wolf as a surly detective, the dame in Snow White trying to figure out her sister’s murder, the loser in Jack, and the various other characters that grace the pages. It’s a fun little story. Although, I’ll admit Snow White comes across as an uber-bitch and I never really felt any empathy for her. 

The ending is really fun with the Willingham did it, it’s classic mystery detective. 

My Recommendation: If you’re in for a fun read than I recommend Fables: Legends in Exile. It’s the classic “Whodunnit” and Willingham makes quick and likable. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series yet but if this first one is any indication I expect them to be nice little breaks inbetween some of the more serious books on my shelf. 

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣


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