Spontaneous Reads: Fables (Deluxe Edition)

There have been a number of spontaneous reads on my book list thus far in 2011. I generally like starting fresh in a new year, before my ‘obligatory’ (which does not mean not enjoyable) book list starts filling up. One of the surprise reads of 2011 is a graphic novel series called Fables, which I had the good luck of having suggested to me (thanks, Chelsea!) after the long-running series had started being collected in lovely ‘Deluxe’ editions. The series started in 2002 and is suffused with the creator Bill Willingham’s enthusiastic love of storytelling and yarn-spinning. I’ve quite enjoyed it, and while graphic and visual-based storytelling is not generally my bag, I think I’ll be making an exception for this series. Here’s a short ‘review’ of the first Fables Deluxe edition, including the “Legends in Exile” and “Animal Farm” plot arcs:

A friend of mine who is very immersed the graphic/comic world suggested that I would really enjoy this series, and brought me the Deluxe edition to get me started. I finished the first book in two nights, which is somewhat unusual for me, since even though reading a graphic novel may not actually take as much time as reading a text-based story, I generally go slower with visual storytelling. The first two arcs in the series are fantastic, though, and the artwork is not only beautiful and dynamic (including the fantastic cover art), it really leads you through the panels and the story in a natural, snappy fashion.

The general premise is this: some centuries before, a powerful force only known as “The Adversary” systematically went about invading and eradicating the mystical worlds inhabited by fable characters. First, the Emerald City was attacked, then Narnia. When those domains fell, the Adversary went about rounding up and attacking the rest of the fables, forcing the survivors–including the Big Bad Wolf (now known as Bigby Wolf), Snow White and Rose Red, the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue, Prince Charming, Bluebeard, Brere Bear, Shere Khan and many others–to relocate to two new dwellings in upstate New York and Manhattan’s Upper East Side. A transition government has been established in Manhattan–ostensibly run by King Cole (the ‘merry old soul’ guy), but really overseen by Snow White and her deputy lawman, Bigby Wolf. Those magical creatures that can’t pass for human, however, are relegated to The Farm upstate, which eventually creates no small amount of chaos for all the undercover fables.

The plot lines are rich while not be terribly complicated, and since their unfolding is quite a lot of fun, I won’t spoil it for anyone. Suffice to say that in the first two arcs, there is a murder investigation, an assassination attempt, a planned fable coup, kidnapping, romances gone awry, and much other adventurous drama. I’ll definitely be continuing with this series.

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