Post #65: Legends in Exile

Fables, Volume One: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Post number sixty-five is for the first volume in Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series, entitled Legends in Exile. I’ve mentioned before that comics/graphic novels aren’t typically my thing, but I’ve really been enjoying the Age of Bronze graphic novels I’ve been reading (I’m on the third one right now), and also love my fairy tales, so decided to give this a try. This “book” (it’s a compilation of five weekly comics that have been bound into book form, which is exactly what Age of Bronze is as well) had a very similar feel to The Sisters’ Grimm books and also Once Upon A Time (on tv) because the fables, i.e. all fairy tale characters great and small, have been put into the modern world. There are some differences between the various series, though, which I’ll get into below underneath the spoiler space just in case.









So in Sisters’ Grimm, the fairy tales are trapped in a town and can’t leave. Same with Once Upon A Time, only they have the added caveat of amnesia. In Fables, the characters all remember who they are, and can leave New York (where the story is set) if they want to, but choose not to because they feel safe in NYC with all their other comrades, even those they didn’t get along with in the “old world”. They’re in NYC because the characters had to flee their fairy tale lands due to an enemy only known as the “Adversary”, which was running amok killing everyone. So immediately this story is a tad darker than either Once Upon A Time or Sisters’ Grimm.

What amused me in Fables are some of the characters’ occupations. Old King Cole is the “mayor”, but Snow White (his “assistant”) actually does all the work. The Big Bad Wolf (named Bigby) is the sheriff. There’s a general amnesty rule in that any crimes committed by anyone (take Blue Beard, for example, who murdered all his wives) in the “old lands” can’t be brought up or mentioned, or used against them in this world. So there are lots of “but we’re not allowed to talk about that”‘s going on, which were also kind of funny.

Anyway, in this first volume, Rose Red, Snow White’s sister, is thought to have been viciously killed. Bigby has two suspects – Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Rose’s boyfriend, and Blue Beard, who, as mentioned above, loves to kill his wives, and was dating Rose as well. Bigby can’t solve the crime without Snow White getting underfoot throwing around threats, and there are lots of other characters who show up and make an appearance (like Prince Charming, Snow White’s ex, who was living abroad in Europe; they use the same trope in this as Sisters’ Grimm in that Prince Charming is the same prince from all the stories, so was also married to Cinderella, etc.). I especially liked the “marriage counselling” session with Snow White, Beauty and the Beast. :))

This was very much a “hey, let me introduce you to this world and these characters”-type story, because the mystery of Rose Red’s “murder” is solved fairly easily by Bigby, and we even get the ridiculous “I figured it out, and I’m going to tell you exactly how” scene at the end, but I was intrigued enough that I’ll most likely read the next volume, just to see how the story continues. It was a fast read, at any rate, which I enjoyed. Definitely worth checking out.

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