Fables: Legends In Exile by Bill Willingham
Once Upon a Time in a fictional land called New York City. Chapter One: Old Tales Revisited. In which we meet many of our principal players and get just the first hint or two of some of the myriad troubles to come.
Legends in Exile is the collected first five chapters of the whole Fables series. In it we are introduced to the fables, a collection of characters who have settled in New York. Originally these fairy tale legends lived in their own worlds, but were driven out by The Adversary. Now they must live among the mundanes, never letting any but their own kind know of who and what they are. And now it seems that there is a murderer in their midst, and everyone wants to know who killed Rose Red.
Of course most fairy tale characters have a murderous past, from Bluebeard who specialised in killing his wives to Jack the Giant Killer. But the general amnesty means the past is exactly that, the past. And now it is up to the Big Bad Wolf, fabletown’s detective, to find out who is responsible.
Quite a few people have recommended this series of comics, so I’m glad to report that I really enjoyed this first volume. Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf, makes for a great detective, and although the plot itself isn’t really fairy tale related, its a simple murder mystery afterall, the character’s backgrounds all provide interesting back-drops to the story.
The fairy tale element is mostly just setting here, but it does allow for some interesting characters to show up. The marraige of Beauty and the Beast, 1000 years long now, is suffering from ups and downs, meaning that Lord Beast is reverting from human form on occasion. Makes it difficult to blend in when you keep sprouting fangs that are too large for your mouth.
This first volume from Vertigo includes the individual comic covers, two of which you can see here, and they really are great pieces of artwork. But the entire book has some lovely illustrations. Bigby, although in the form of a human man, has a shadow that looks like a wolf for example. This is where graphic novels shine. It’d be quite cumbersome to describe an effect like that in nothing but text.
There is also a short story included, revealing how the fables found their way to New York, and how the Big Bad Wolf became sherriff. A great read.