Fables is an ongoing series from Vertigo Comics.
It's partially about sullying renowned fairy tale characters, by setting them in our modern world - Manhattan, to be more accurate.
It's also about the evasive meaning of these ancient stories.
Doesn't Prince Charming from the stories of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty seem like the same person to you? Do you feel like you know a mischievous wise guy like Jack of the Beanstalk?
Fables has sex, misdeeds, fighting and bravery. It's witty and original, and it keeps the old fairy tale magic going.
I just loved how the life-story of Shepherd Book was structured - starting from the moment of his death (on planet Haven, as we well know from the movie Serenity) and going backwards to the unknown parts of his life, unto his childhood...
The fifth volume of Buffy Season Eight is patched up from several different short stories, collated together to illustrate a world where vampires are the latest-hottest trend, all thanks to the most clueless...
Picture the following: A thick white winter covers the Northlands wilderness once again, with unbearable cold...
Here's another slightly incoherent, nevertheless endearing volume of Buffy Season Eight...
After the nasty trick that Rose Red and her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend - Jack of the tales - tried to pull in the first volume of Fables , Snow White decides that she needs to spend some serious quality time with her sister Rose. While Jack had been sentenced to long hours of community service consisting of mopping the shiny marvel floor of Fabletown, Rose is required to accompany Snow to the enchanted animal farm in upstate New York. The Animal farm is where all the fables that cannot pass as humans hide from the mundys (mundys being the regular non-fable people).
As soon as the two sisters arrive to the farm and settle in the cozy guest room, they discover a horrible murder - one of their animal firends, who is a famous tale character in its own right, got slaughtered in a most gruesome way. With the phone cut off, and snow's truck keys mysteriously missing, it seems that the two sisters are stuck in the farm, without being able to report back to Fabletown in New York City.
The murder is actually a brute message that the violent revolution of the animals against fabletown's authority is on. The farm animals are led by the obnoxious activist Goldilocks and her three bear brethren. As we find out soon enough, Goldilocks is as armed and dangerous as she is blond and beautiful. Goldy definitely completes our set of three fair human heroines, one of each kind: brunette (Snow), ginger (Rose) and blond (Goldy).
Much like in the first volume where we were introduced to the fable community of the big city, in the second volume we get introduced to the non-human fables of the animal farm. The story telling is also much the same - the scenery is set for a mystery, clues are planted along the storyline, whilst in the end all questions are answered.
All the characters from the first volume are still here, plus some new ones, like Reynard fox and Weyland Smith. Goldilocks is very well portrayed as the presumptuous revolutionist, who lost any sense of good sense. "Do you think I share your son's bed only because it happens To Be 'Just Right'?" Goldy asks pops bear; a very legit question in the fables world but sordidly funny for us mundanes, who are familiar with the childish version of Goldy's story.
I was a bit puzzled by the appearance of the Jungle Book animal characters. How exactly do they blend with European folklore? True, The Jungle Book was written a long time ago, but still it's quite modern comparing to the other tales, which are practically ancient. I guess all stories live in fable realms.
We also get some new insight into the icy-cold relations of snow and rose. We have already learnt previously, that Rose had seduced Prince Charming centuries ago, thus breaking Snow's happily ever after marriage. Honestly, I actually thought that Bill Willingham invented Rose Red, but then I googled and found this tale. Though seemingly unrelated to the more familiar Snow and dwarves story, the two tales were mashed in Fables.
The art is also very similar to the first volume; though the penciller and colorist had changed, it seems that efforts have been made to preserve the general style from the previous volume. The characters did shift a little, but it is hardly noticeable unless actually comparing. Anyway, the artwork does its job in making you feel all fable-cozy in a daily 'mundane' way. The cover art is like a riddle - it insinuates harsh events in a mild way, much like in a dream, where everything just stands for something else.
Although enjoyable, there was a small part of me that was botherd by the overly ironic flavor of this comic. This volume sends big winks to other works of literature (besides the regular folklore tales it's based on), that are themselves a wink-wink to real-life events (I think they call it satire). I haven't read "Animal Farm" by George Orwell , and I'd better leave the comparison for those who actually read it.
I favor fantasy which builds its own humor within its own reality, without much obvious correlation to the real world. Otherwise I feel that the credibility of the fantasy world is shuddered, and rather than being an exciting and reliable fantastic fiction, it becomes merely a humourus homage for other works. So Fables walks a thin line here. Having said that, admittedly, I enjoyed the refreshing and light style of Fables. I am definitely going on to the third volume, hopefully discovering new insights into our childhood tales.