Fables seemed a bit too good to be true, but at the same time I understood what the excitement was about. The cover art is breathtaking and practically seduces you into thumbing it over and then there is the actual quality and consistency behind the production. Bill Willingham is still the creative motor behind this steaming machine. Even the art factor’s remained fairly stable and predictable. Mark Buckingham provides the lines for the main story arcs, while the filler issues are being illustrated by artists such as Troy Akins, Craig Hamilton, Linda Medley and Bryan Talbot.
I picked a certain pattern [the series inner rhythm, so to say], which suits me perfectly. Fables is a journey and every journey has its rest stops, where both story and reader can take a few short breaths, before setting off again. There is a main on-scene storyline and at the same time Vertigo provides readers with one shot issues in between arcs to examine further something about the Fabletown that has not been mentioned before or does not take a central role in the events, but contributes to building the atmosphere.
I have to say that this is a smart solution to a problem that is quite natural for a series with an enormous cast. Namely, giving characters and the world page time to flesh out enough to suspend disbelief and hook the readers to continue reading. Sure enough, the central string of story lines will provide enough about renowned figures from pop culture such as Beauty, the Beast, Blue Beard, Sleeping Beauty and all the Disney’s favorites. However, the reader would like some depth to the world, which can’t be summed up with fairy tale all-stars. This is where these filler issues come in, adding shades to the reading experience, layering the concept in our imagination and further captivating us beyond being able to not read. Such fillers include the final battle between the Fables and the Adversary, while the last boat of refugees crossed over to the mundane world, Smalltown’s origins, Cinderella’s double life and the Civil War adventures of Jack of Tales.
On-screen, tension rises high. Fabletown is still recuperating from the events of the revolution that bordered on a Civil War, but that doesn’t deter the universe from delivering blows after blows that may prove to be fatal. A Mundy [the regular non-fable] reporter reveals that he will expose Fabletown to the world. The reaction is lightning fast and resembles a brilliant heist movie. Goldilocks gets her chance to kill both Bigby and Snow. Blue Beard shows his true, treacherous nature and prince Charming plans to dabble in Fabbletown politics. There is death and unplanned pregnancies. The Adversary plans maneuvers against the fables in our world with a small scale invasion with Baba Yaga posing as Little Red Riding Hood and an army, consisting of wooden soldiers, carved by none other than Geppetto. There is a massive stand between the invading forces and all the Fables [from the city and the Farm] with fires, guns and spells flying around. Baba Yaga has her personal duel versus Frau Totenkinder [translates from German into Dead Children] aka the witch from Hensel and Gretel.
Fables is Disney X-rated meets 24 meets Alias meets Burn Notice meets Buffy… I can go on and on. The series has been written for adult readers, ’cause there’s carnage, death, sex and explicit language in high detail. Those that wish to remain their childhood memories as intact as possible at least as far as fairy tales go, I advise against picking up this series. However, for the other group of people that want their fables hard core this is a brilliant reading choice. Our own culture has become a thick catalogue with destruction, mayhem and all the risky, edgy deeds we wish we could do as a matter of stress release. From a psychological standpoint, our society’s structure and model leave us at the end of the day with stress, frustration and anger that we can’t find an outlet for. So, it’s up to entertainment with action in high volumes to bring up our adrenaline levels and get rid of our stress. This is what I call the good aggression in the same fashion that we have good and bad cholesterol.
Fables is in the good aggression category. Cussing, blood and violence have a solid share in its makeup, but beneath them there is brilliant plotting that demands the reader to connect the dots and solve mysteries behind who did what, when and why. There is a great deal of mental exercise involved with the aggression as an attractive side dish to the menu. Also, I think that Fables will prompt readers un-fond of reading in general to pick up folk tale books and see where the writer is coming from with some of the lesser known to them characters.
Verdict: Solid gold. I couldn’t have picked a better series.