Fables: Legends in exile
Title: Fables: Legends in Exile (graphic novel)
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton
Story / Art / Overall: * * * *
In ‘Fables’ the DC Vertigo stable has brought out a fantasy set in a contemporary setting that is collecting into popular graphic novels as fast as the issues are being printed.
All the fairy tale characters with which we are familiar from children’s storybooks have had to escape their homeland, which was ravaged by a stronger enemy, and set up a new home – Fabletown – in New York, amidst the normal folk – or as the Fabletown residents disparagingly call them, ‘mundies’.
Policed by Bigby Wolf (of Red Riding Hood fame), nominally ruled by Old King Cole and actually governed by Snow White, they have to keep their existence a secret from the mundies while making their exile in New York bearable.
The Fabletown community is thrown into turmoil when Snow White’s less famous sister, Rose Red, is murdered. The first five collected issues see Bigby Wolf and Snow White do everything they can to trace the killer while keeping the intricate Fabletown politics in check.
Writer Bill Willingham and a selection of able artists (including Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Criag Hamilton) ensure that the dialogue and art are as engaging and fresh as the storyline. Part of this comic novel’s charm lies in the modernisation of the fairy tales characters portrayed: Beanstalk Jack is a self-centered part-time thief, Cinderella is a social climber and Prince Charming is a heartless lothario whose beauty is skin-deep and whose talent lies in draining the wallets of impressionable young mundy women.
‘Legends in Exile’ provides an entertaining introduction to a world where fairy-tale charm guarantees neither innocent behaviour nor ‘happy ever after’, and the good news for those readers who take to it the premise of Fables is that there are already several more collected volumes lining the shop shelves.