Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)

(2006) Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham, Titan Books, 8.99, trdpbk, 144pp, ISBN 1-845-76278-9


This is volume seven of the trade paperbacks of the ongoing monthly title, collecting issues 42-47 and featuring the wonderful inks of Steve Leialoha. (The previous graphic novels in the series reviewed elsewhere on this site are Fables: Homelands, Fables: The Mean Seasons and Fables: Storybook Love.) The title story is the first four issues and follows on from the last volume's revelation that the Adversary conquering the Fables' homelands is none other than Pinocchio's creator Geppetto. The Adversary has now turned his attention to attacking the Arabian Fables' homeland and so they send an emissary, Sinbad, to Fabletown New York to form a possible alliance. However, unbeknown to either the Fabletown residents and their Mayor, Prince Charming, or to Sinbad, an aide, Yusuf, has brought with them a djinn, a being of almost incalculable power (the magical equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction!). The Fabletown residents must once again rely on Frau Totenkinder, the Black Forest Witch, to intercede on their behalf and, at the Farm, where the non-human Fables live, Snow White and Rose Red seek the advice of Mr.North, the living embodiment of the North Wind and grandfather to Snow White's children by the still missing Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf.

The last two issues in this volume tell the story of "The Ballad of Rodney and June", drawn by Jim Fern and Jimmy Palmiotti. Rodney is a wooden soldier in the service of the Adversary, part of the force attacking the Arabian Fables' homelands and June, similarly wooden, is the nurse/carpenter who repairs wounded soldiers. In spite of themselves they fall in love and seek an audience with Geppetto in order to petition him to make them, like Pinocchio, fully human. This he agrees to do but, as ever, there is a price to pay... Original series' covers are by James Jean, and lovely they are too.

This is still an absolutely terrific series, hilarious and violent, touching and frightening, and well worth anybody's time and money (also the winner of five Eisner Awards). The twists and turns are utterly compelling, and the writing and art completely fabulous. There was no way I could have guessed, back when I saw the first volume of this book, that I would become totally entranced by it - in fact, I was fairly sure that I'd hate it. Now, here we are, seven volumes down the line, and I have to say that Fables is consistently in my top five titles that I look forward to. With quality of this consistency, all I can say is that I hope there is plenty more to come. Highly recommended to children of all ages.

Tony Chester

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