Author: Bill Willingham/Illustrators: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Sherilyn van Valkenburgh, James Jean, & Alex Maleev/Letterer: Todd Klein
Fables, vol. 1
Once upon a time, the characters inhabiting our favorite fairy tales were driven from their homes by “the Adversary.” Now, these very people reside–practically immortal–in New York, blending in to present-day society and handling their own problems through their own secret government. Snow White is the Director of Operations for this government, directly under King Cole, and she has not had a good day. And it only gets worse when Bigby Wolf, her security officer, drags her off to a crime scene . . . her sister Rose Red’s apartment–blood-splattered and with no sign of Rose in sight!
I think the idea behind the Fables series is fascinating, and Bill Willingham executes it brilliantly in Legends in Exile. What stands out most to me about this story is the characters–they aren’t always what you’d expect from the fairy tales, but they work. More importantly, they have strong, consistent personalities that are carried through everything from their dialogue to the way they’re drawn. Snow White and Bigby in particular are also intricate and individual people–and with Snow in particular, you can see the conflict between who she is and who she sees herself to be, which is fascinating. The focal story of Legends in Exile (besides introducing the overarching themes and characters) is a murder mystery, done in classic style; it’s an effective traditional use of the genre (if you can say it’s traditional when the suspects include fantasy characters) told with a wry humor. The art is quite nice for a graphic novel (I’m still adjusting to the graphic novel style); a lot less stylized and blood-splattered than I’ve seen in some. I would note that this is definitely for mature readers and contains sex, language, and violence. Still, for mature readers who enjoy fantasy or graphic novels, I think Fables: Legends in Exile is a solid, engaging, and unique story that would be a fun read.