(2004) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, Titan Books, £10.99, trdpbk, 190pp, ISBN 1-840-23857-7
I have come somewhat late to Fables, this being the third volume and collecting issues 11-18 of the comic. In volume one, Legends in Exile, we discover that the fables were driven from their homeland by The Adversary and have set up home in New York. Rose Red, Snow White's fraternal twin sister is missing and Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf) investigates. Volume two, Animal Farm, is set on The Farm where the non-human-looking fables live. There's a revolution under way, led by terrorist Goldilocks, which is soon defeated, though Snow White (vice Mayor of Fabletown) is severly wounded. Rose Red takes over the running of The Farm. In this volume a tale of Jack is told, a nosy reporter is discouraged from publishing his discovery of Fabletown, and Snow White and Bigby Wolf are set up by Goldilocks and Bluebeard. Will the newly returned Prince Charming be a help or a hindrance, and what of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), the Prince's second wife?
Bill Willingham has written some great tales here, gritty without being gratuitous, tongue in cheek without being twee and Buckingham and Leialoha's art (and Bryan Talbot's and Lan Medina's and even Linda Medley's) is excellent. As a 'Vertigo' title this will probably appeal to fans of Sandman, Lucifer and The Books of Magic. As you might expect this is a 'mature reader's' book with sex and violence, so not for the kiddies. Those who know that most fairy tales, in their original form, were much darker than the watered down and Disney-fied versions we've come to know, may appreciate seeing this modern take on those old characters as, indeed, am I. Late to the party perhaps, but a willing convert, hungry for more.
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