Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fables: Legends in Exile (comic)

I believe Fables: Legends in Exile is the first comic book collection I've ever reviewed. I'm counting it toward my 50 books this year even though Volume 1 is only one hundred and some pages, most of which are full of pictures. However, it does seem to have a lot more to read than the average comic book these days, at least that I've seen. And it has a great prose story, explaining some of the background, at the end of the volume. I would go so far as to say Fables is more of a graphic novel than a comic book. Volume 1 tells a complete story and isn't episodic.

The whole series, however, is sort of episodic. I believe each volume focuses on different characters, though they all live in the same place. The idea is all about fairy tale characters who fled a great evil in their worlds and ended up in the only world the Adversary wasn't interested in: ours.

Now, I was hesitant to even review this story because I really don't think it's for the audience I have here. It's kind of dark, though that doesn't bother me as much as the prolific swearing (constantly the F-word) and a bit of sex and sexual innuendo. In this first volume, at least, no nudity is shown. But this is not the typical thing I would read and like.

Having said that, I think there are great things about this story, too. I like the idea that these fairy tale characters are stuck in our world, eternally young, in hiding, waiting for the day they might be able to return home. After one thousand years of life, things change. The characters become a little like the people of the world they now inhabit. They become hardened. "True Love" fades. It's sad but sort of interesting, too. I think the series has potential.

It has minor similarities to TV's current Once Upon a Time, but overall, they are not at all the same. Once Upon a Time is far more innocent. In Fables, King Cole is mayor of Fabletown, a secret community in New York, and Snow White is his right hand. She does all the dirty work. In Volume 1, Snow's sister, Rose Red, appears to have been brutally murdered, and the Big Bad Wolf, as sheriff, must solve the crime. Among others, we meet the detestable Prince Charming, Snow's ex; Beauty and the Beast, whose thousand-year love waxes and wanes; Jack of beanstalk lore; the villainous Bluebeard; and Cinderella. The characters are supposed to live in harmony after the Amnesty, old sins forgiven no matter how heinous. The Big Bad Wolf as sheriff is proof that anyone can reform. But when there's a murder to solve, one-time villains are under the spotlight again.

My husband liked aspects of the comic but didn't particularly like the style of the short prose story at the end. I, however, really enjoyed the short story. It's an in-depth look at the Wolf's history, and it hints at romance to come in future volumes of Fables.

One other thing in the comic that was a bit of a slap in the face, as my husband put it, is that it has the Adversary killing the "Great Lion" of one world, which can only mean Aslan.

Fables is dark, gritty, a little trashy, and not remotely for children (or even some adults!), but it's an interesting idea. And as a writer, myself, I see some redeeming value in it. But not enough to recommend it. So, unless you are a huge comic book reader and are used to the trashy stuff, which pops up now and then in many comics, just know this is out there and spend your time on more worthwhile reading.

Three stars for what it is. One star for morality.

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