Fables: Volume 2

Fables 2The plot: Deputy mayor of Fabletown Snow White heads to The Farm for her semi-annual visit, dragging a reluctant Rose Red along with her.  The Farm, a large property in upstate New York, is the home of all the fairy tale creatures who cannot pass for human — but not all of them want to be there. Led by communistic pigs and a bloodthirsty Goldilocks, the non-human fables have hatched a rebellion, and Snow White is their first target.

The Author: Bill Willingham has been writing and illustrating comics and role playing games since the late 70s. He is the author of three novels, including Down the Mysterly River, and most recently wrote for the comic series Angel: After the Fall.

The Illustrator: Mark Buckingham got his start in the late 80s working on British magazine The Truth and American comic Hellblazer. He has done work on various Marvel and DC comics. Fun fact: author Neil Gaiman was the best man at his wedding.

Why It’s Awesome:  The most fun thing about this series is its sly nod to fantasy fiction of all kinds, from The Jungle Book to the Grimm classics, even as it stands those stories on their heads.  The background pictures in this volume are worth pausing over, peopled as they are with recognizable characters.  The intersection of the modern world and the traditional tales provides some delightfully off-the-wall mash-ups (such as a rifle-toting, rhetoric-spouting Goldilocks).

Volume 2 takes more time to delve into the characters’ relationships, especially the tie between estranged twins Snow White and Rose Red. Their story has some enjoyable twists and revelations, with neither woman entirely in the wrong or in the right.

Why It’s Not Awesome: The biggest problem with this series is that is tries to fit a lot of plot into a very slim volume.  This may be a readers’ bias on my part (I’m more used to reading 500-page novels than comic books), but I finished both volumes of the Fables series feeling rushed.  There weren’t any details I would have left out; I just wish there had been a few more pages to give the story some room to breathe.

Due to a plot twist I don’t want to give away, the last section of this volume is told mostly in second-hand flashback, which makes sense given the plot but feels a little anticlimactic after such an action-packed volume.

The Final Judgment: A little rushed, but a lot of fun if you’re a widely-read fantasy fan.

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