Friday 29 June 2012

Many Mini Reviews:- Fables Volumes 2, 3 & 4 by Bill Willingham

I think that graphic novels have been under-represented on the blog this year, and it really isn't because I'm not reading any - I just haven't managed to discipline myself to write about them yet! This is a vaguely lazy way of catching up with what I've been reading. 

I discovered the world of graphic novels through Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, centering around the Lord of Dreams and his siblings (Death, Destiny, Delirium, Desire etc), with a heavy leaning towards the mythological. After I finished the series I was looking for something to follow it with when I started hearing things about Bill Willingham's Fables series. Taking characters from fairytale and folklore and placing them into a modern setting, how could I resist?! 

I wrote about the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, and the first volume, Legends in Exile, but after that I got caught up with other things. So here goes. (I just wanted to say this is also a brilliant exercise because some of these I read so long ago that I'm pretty much having to re-read them to remember details, which is brilliant)

Volume 2: Animal Farm
Following on from where Legends in Exile left off, the second volume follows the story of the non-human fables, forced to live in the Farm community. Snow White and Rose Red (going to take up her new position as head of the farm, as punishment for her schemes of the first installment), walk into a suspicious meeting, and quickly learn that everything is far from what it should be... 

I have to say that so far, this is one of my favourite installments. I love the way that Willingham is continually introducing new characters in unexpected ways, and how they tangle with characters they should have nothing to do with. Unlikely pairings in this installment include Bluebeard (the wife killer), and Goldilocks (of three bears fame), Shere Khan and Bagheera, and Rose Red bargaining for the life of her sister... It's full of revolution, anger, and unexpected twists. Also, Bigby Wolf who has to be my favourite character. So brooding, so mysterious. So much love. 

Volume 3: Storybook Love

This is the book in which backstories of different characters start appearing; first Jack (beanstalk, Giant killer), then Briar Rose (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty), who just happens to be the second wife of the enigmatic Prince Charming, ex-husband of Snow White, who, at the beginning of the book is recouperating from the events of Animal Farm. There's a lot going on here, and a lot more characters involved than in the first two!

First off, Bigby Wolf and the other Fables are threatened with exposure, so there's that to take care of, and then there's interesting developments in the relationship between Bigby and Snow White... Oh and Goldilocks, mustn't forget about her! 

This book is the one where it really all kicks off. From now on there are at least three parallel storylines running at the same time, and twists and turns all over the place. It's really gripping, and I loved that the characters are becoming more three dimensional and complex. Also, I haven't yet mentioned how gorgeous the artwork is, and it really is. 

Volume 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers
This is my other favourite so far. Fabletown receives its' first new inhabitant in a long, long time, fresh from the old lands, now controlled by the Adversary. Red Riding Hood has an interesting back story, but is she all she seems? Following on from the idea that the gateways between the old world and the new might not be quite so closed as everybody thought, Jack is pursued by some creepily resilient black suited men, and Fabletown prepares itself for the possibility of war... Meanwhile, Snow White is miraculously pregnant!

I think I'm showing a bit of a predilection for the volumes containing lots of angst and gore, but I think they give the characters more opportunities for awesomeness, especially Boy Blue, who has lurked in the background up until this point, and whose back story you learn a lot more about. Another unlikely hero of this volume is Pinocchio, whose story is somewhat more complicated than expected... I thought the plot of this volume was particularly strong and well put-together. At points, there was so much going on that I did wonder how Willingham keeps it all together! 

There will be another one of these mini posts at some point soon, for volumes 5 and 6. I was going to do them all together, but I thought that it might be a little much... But anyway, in summary I would really recommend these if you're at all into fairytale type stuff. I know a couple of people besides me have been reading them for the Telling Tales Challenge!


  1. I read these a couple of years ago and really loved them! I think I only got to volume 8 or 9, but I have been meaning to pick up my own copies to have on hand. :) They're so much deeper than I thought they would be!

  2. Wife read it three times and I've read ADOW twice in readiness for