It’s high time Fables got its due: It’s simply one of the best comics series currently being published, and it has been for years. If you haven’t been following the monthly series since its inception in 2002, you’re in luck: Vertigo has just released this handsome collection, which reprints the first 10 issues of the series in a nice hardcover.
Fables takes the legends we all grew up with and turns them on their ear. In writer Bill Willingham’s reworking, the Fable folk are reimagined as living in modern-day New York City, where they exist in peaceful coexistence with normal humans—albeit only after being magically glamored to fit in. Those who can’t magically adapt to fit in live on the Farm in Upstate New York, where they can be hidden away from any human prying eyes.
There’s a political hierarchy to the Fables as well, and Willingham’s story begins with Snow White (divorced from the slimy cad prince who charmed her ages ago) working as Director of Operations and bringing the long arm of the Fable law down upon both Beauty and the Beast (his beastly curse, it seems, worsens when his bride is mad at him, threatening to expose him to the humans—or “the Mundanes” as they’re referred to).
The larger story here, though, is a mystery—perhaps a murder mystery. Snow White’s less-famous sister, Rose Red, has disappeared, and her home is covered in blood. Investigating the crime is the detective Bigby (you may know him better as the Big Bad Wolf, but he’s now reformed and working on the right side of the law).
If it sounds cutesy in any way—don’t worry, it isn’t. It’s funny at times, suspenseful at others, and well-written always (the art is lovely too). Willingham enjoys taking these characters out for a spin, and what’s better is how he keeps them truthful to their historical roots while planting them in a new and rather dangerous world.
This new Deluxe Edition collects the first 10 issues of the monthly comic book. It’s a complete, standalone story and sets the stage for the rest of the series (later story arcs would take on different themes; whereas this is a mystery, conspiracy theories, romances, and other arcs have followed).
Fables today remains every bit as good as when it started. This is a perfect jumping-on point for those who have missed it previously.
Reviewed by John Hogan on October 6, 2009
Fables, The Deluxe Edition, Vol. One