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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mister Wolf on the case
This collects the first 5 issues of Bill Willingham's Fables comic. The run covers Bigby Wolf's investigation into the apparent killing of Rose Red in Fabletown - a community made up of refugees/exiles from the the lands of myth and fable. On paper the idea surely can't work but somehow it does by using characters that are imprinted on most children's consciousness from...
Published on 3 Aug. 2003 by Michael Finn

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing and art
Excellent writing and art, but the paper quality is very poor. It's like newspaper. Go for the Deluxe edition, it works out the same price, but it's hardback (2 TPB) and on glossy high quality paper.
Published 16 days ago by Patrick


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mister Wolf on the case, 3 Aug. 2003
By 
Michael Finn (Blackburn, Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This collects the first 5 issues of Bill Willingham's Fables comic. The run covers Bigby Wolf's investigation into the apparent killing of Rose Red in Fabletown - a community made up of refugees/exiles from the the lands of myth and fable. On paper the idea surely can't work but somehow it does by using characters that are imprinted on most children's consciousness from an early age. This is adult fare though even taking into account real fables propensity for the bloody and the macabre. It all fits together cleverly with a strange kind of natural symmetry. I n execution the comic walks the same paths of style as say Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen even down to the prose fairytale prequelling events at the back of the book, written and illustrated by Willingham. As with Moore's League it's all very much tongue in cheek. Bigby wolf is a good character noiring his way through the mystery complete with parlour denouement. Entertaining and well executed with some pretty neat art.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fables in hiding, 24 Mar. 2010
By 
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Imagine if all the legendary story characters were living secretly in New York -- and they weren't quite fairy tale material?

In short, Prince Charming is a thrice-divorced lech, the Big Bad Wolf is now a werewolf cop, Snow White is an embittered government manager, and some very peculiar other residents crashing in a modern city. "Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile" does an excellent job smoothly introducing the world of Bill Willingham's series, even as he spins up a pretty solid little murder mystery.

The daily business of the hard-nosed Snow White (a Fable government official whom everyone comes to with complaints) is interrupted when Bigby Wolf brings her some ghastly news: her estranged, wild-child sister Rose Red has been murdered, and there's no sign of her except for buckets of blood all over her apartment. The most obvious suspect is Jack, whom Snow White helps interrogate when she isn't dealing with her womanizing, impoverished aristocrat ex, Prince Charming.

But some of the details about Rose Red's death don't add up -- and as Bigby investigates further into the people who knew her well, he begins finding aspects of her life hidden from everybody. Not to mention an irate fiancee who wants revenge on Jack. As the Remembrance Day approaches, Bigby puts together the clues to a very bizarre case where not everything is what it seems -- and not everyone is doing what they claim.

Bill Willingham is an expert in taking beloved characters from legends, fairy tales and nursery rhymes... and then turning our perceptions of them on their heads (example: Beast and Beauty's marital troubles cause his curse to reassert itself). He's also created a pretty unique fantasy concept -- the Fables and their magic have been driven out of their fantastical homeland, and live as secret refugees in the middle of New York City. It's actually a pretty cool idea.

If it were nothing but a "cool idea" gimmick, "Fables" might be a fun read but not a great one. However, Willingham has a knack for weaving together action-packed, gritty plots with a touch of sex, plenty of splattered gore, and plenty of quirky twists (Pinocchio is angry about being a "real boy" who never grows up). And even as he carefully introduces the characters and their situations, he also spins up a solid murder mystery that intertwines with the other subplots like ivy vines on a stone wall -- splatters of blood, a padlock, a strange betrothal contract, and a missing body all take part.

And Willingham's cast is as large as the number of beloved free-domain characters allows... well, at least the well-known ones. The inhabitants of fairy tales and folk legends loom especially large in the story -- the hard-nosed, no-nonsense Snow White; the bickering Beauty and her Beast hubby; the flirtatious much-married Prince Charming (who spends much of the story seducing waitresses and selling unusable property); the grizzled cop Bigby Wolf; supposedly reformed serial killer Bluebeard; a rather embittered Cinderella, and so on. Despite the vast cast of characters, Willingham juggles them adeptly and gives each character a distinct personality.

Bill Willingham started off the Fables series on a strong footing with "Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile," which combines a quirky fantasy concept with a solid murder mystery. Definitely a good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time there was a comic and it was awesome., 27 April 2014
By 
Jakeisthecoolest "Jake" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile (Fables (Graphic Novels)) (Kindle Edition)
I realise I am rather late to the Fables party, but am definitely glad I finally arrived. The simple premise of fairy tale creatures living amongst the 'mundies' in contemporary New York seems ripe for a kids book, however this is far from child's play. A dark and rich story of murder and intrigue unfolds within the beautiful artwork that has at once the feeling of classic illustrations and modern comic art at the same time. There are a few moments as the Big Bad Wolf prowls through his list of suspects where the story can be a little clunky, although I am convinced these teething issues will be ironed out in the future issues.
Overall this is a fantastic book, and hopefully series. I'll be sure to let you know soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time..., 18 Jan. 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Rose Red is dead - who killed her? It's up to Bigby Wolf, Fabletown's gumshoe, to track down the killer.

What I really like about the first volume of Fables is that it doesn't read like a first volume of a multi-volume series - it reads like a standalone book. I'm sure Rose Red plays a big part later on but this book is concerned more with the done-in-one murder mystery than it is in explicitly detailing to the reader all about the world of the series, etc.

The genius of this approach is that Bill Willingham introduces the cast of the series, gives us their characters and their situations within the self-contained story, so it manages to do everything a first volume should while also presenting itself as a standalone book, meaning everyone from casual readers looking for a good story to those who're in for the long haul can get something out of this first volume.

I'm not usually one for crime dramas/police procedurals, and the reveal at the end isn't at all original, but the story in this first volume is an entertaining whodunit thanks to its colourful cast. Our grizzled (and he is grizzled!) detective is Bigby Wolf (aka the Big Bad Wolf) who, along with Snow White, Deputy Mayor of Fablestown and sister of Rose Red, sets out to bring Rose's killer to justice.

Rather than meeting a series of nondescript characters during the investigation, you're introduced to someone you'll remember from your childhood in each scene - it's Beauty and the Beast! Is that... Bluebeard? Jack - like Jack and the Beanstalk? Willingham's taken their character and twisted it just so, so that they're familiar but new at the same time. We've seen it done numerous times before (probably most famously by the Shrek movies) but it works in this comic because of Willingham's strong characterisation and inspired writing.

Lan Medina's wonderful designs help in realising the characters. They look like you'd expect to a degree so they're recognisable when you first see them but have just enough nuance to them to make you look closer. I especially liked the jaded talking pig who returns from the farm to the city to crash on Bigby's couch - Bigby owes him after blowing his house down!

And when you're wondering how what when etc., Willingham provides just enough background information on how the Fables came to live in our world so that it's sufficient for readers to enjoy this book alone with room to explore it further in later books - again, ingenious! I'm sure some readers will feel the brief section on The Adversary wasn't enough but I'm also sure it's explored more in the dozens of other books that follow this.

It's taken me a while to get around to picking up Fables but I'm glad I did. It's enjoyable, original, and this first volume is a fine place to start giving the reader a good taste of what the series is about and a decent murder mystery too - I'm definitely on board for the second volume! If you've been putting it off because of the abundance of cheesy fairy tales with a 21st century post-modern take in pop culture, put those fears aside and give Fables a shot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clever twist on well-known stories and a good beginning, 6 Jun. 2011
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The characters from the fairy tales that we all know and love have been driven out of their fantasy world by a sinister unknown enemy. Unable to return to their homes, they are now living in modern day New York City where they try to blend in under the watchful eye of Snow White. Problems arise when Snow White's sister, Rose Red, goes missing and her aparetment is found covered in blood. While she works with Bigby Wolf to solve the mystery, Prince Charming is attempting to raffle off his kingdom in the old world to raise some much needed money, and evertyhing comes to a head at the traditional Remembrance Day ball.

This is a cleverly written book because, while it has a plot that is neatly tied up at the end, it also provides only tantalising hints into the wider story which surrounds the fairy tale characters. I want to know what exactly happened to their world which made them flee to ours, and how that is going to develop. I want to know more about the characters and their somewhat strained existence rubbing shoulders with ordinary humans. I want to find out more about their traditions and cultures and how their fary stories continue to be played out in the real world. In other words, it provided the perfect amount of story to engage and satisfy me if I only ever read Legends in Exile, but at the same time it guarantees that I'm going to want to carry on and read more of the series because I'm so fascinated with the world.

The concept is interesting (if a bit self-consciously silly at times) and it's much grittier than I had expected from a fairy tale adapt ation. I loved the little details that Willingham puts in about the characters: the Beast, for example, is only handsome as long as Beauty is happy in their marriage, so he keeps reverting to his beastlike appearance every time Beauty becomes annoyed with him (which happens quite frequently). The pictures aren't as pretty as I tend to favour, but I think they really suit the detective noir style of the story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up!, 18 Oct. 2013
The creatures from stories, fairy tales in particular, have fled an invader of their homelands and arrived in New York City. The more human looking ones integrate into society and establish their own secret community.

This is a really neat idea and you get to see what characters such as Snow White, Jack the Giant Killer and Cinderella do after their tales end and the kind of people they become. All of the characters are well realised with depth, complex human values, emotions and aren't just paper stereotypes. It is fascinating to see them out of their usual settings yet remaining true to their nature.

The plot is a murder mystery which is a great way to hook your interest and introduce you to a diverse cast. It is very well executed and the parlour scene at the end will have you nodding along sagely. The dialogue is good and although there are chuckles along the way you are laughing with these people not at them.

There are a couple of recaps as the story goes on, which is necessary for a new comic book that is still attracting readers, but redundant in a graphic novel. Cleverly these recaps are presented in different styles and contain additional information for the continuing reader so you don't mind. The book is full of neat little touches such as each chapter having a little summary, as was typical in literature of the period when these characters were originally created.

The art is good solid stuff, very traditional in layout and format. Plenty of detail and good colouring that makes the most of the matt paper characteristic of Vertigo books. A great idea is that flashbacks are contained in elaborate oil-painting style frames as if a past moment has been captured.

This is a very encouraging start. A great premise, well drawn and written, that won't let you down. Thumbs Up!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fairytale of New York, 13 Feb. 2011
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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I picked 'Fables' up after reading the excellent The Unwritten series. Fables author Bill Willigham, wrote an introduction to Unwritten Vol 1, and Vol 2 had an advert for the series on the inside back cover. So who says marketing doesn't work? Both series ask what might happen if the world of fiction leaked into the real world, but where 'Unwritten' borders on literary brilliance, 'Fables' is merely a diverting read.

That is not to say that it is not worth reading. The premise is strong - The mysterious 'Adversary' has ravaged the lands of fables, and its denizens, have been forced to flee, taking refuge in modern Manhattan. Bluebeard, Snow White, the three little pigs, and the big bad wolf, all live alongside each other in the Big Apple. Their identity is secret from the rest of the world, as is the existence of their city within a city 'Fabletown' - presided over by Mayor King Cole.

Comparison is inevitable with Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and most people would probably say unfavourably. Both series follow the same premise; where 'LOEG', uses famous Victorian literary figures, the characters from 'Fables', are drawn from a much longer tradition of storytelling. Whilst Moore's creation undoubtedly has better drawings, I'm not sure that there is much between the stories.

I had the advantage of coming to 'Fables' with no preconceptions, (where as I was disappointed with 'LOEG', having heard so much about them) and I found them rich in folk-tale tradition. 'Fables' characters are diverse and well-realised, and there is much humour throughout. Its central, detective-noir, storyline, whilst not ground-breaking new ground, is strong and has a pleasing conclusion. The troubled 'Big-Bad Wolf' as a gumshoe, makes for an irresistible anti-hero.

Overall, I was impressed with 'Fables' and am pleased to see that there are still many volumes to read. Considering the amount of source material available, I guess it could run for a very long time, and as far as I'm concerned on the basis of this first instalment, that is no bad thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fairtales get the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Treatment, 26 Jan. 2011
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I really liked this book, the artwork and colours are fantastic, the world building and thematic introduction are woven brilliantly into what is essentially a single murder mystery story with reveal at the finish. It was great to see Jack, from Jack in the Beanstalk among other tales, the Big Bad Wolf and Bluebeard the pirate presented as they were, as roguish, villainous and terrible (big and bad the wolf truely was), and as the first in a series it did definitely leave me wanting to read others.

The fairtales and characters presented in the book are pretty eclectic but the principle ones will be familiar such as Snow White, while it does involve fairtales it is fairly adult/mature reader at points, for instance Prince Charming is featured in bed in a physically intimate episode with a waitress he has seduced and Bluebeard's history of killing of his wives on their wedding night (this looked like something out of Silence of The Lambs). These arent obscene or in bad taste at all and wouldnt be anything worse than would be featured in some TV drama after the nine o'clock watershed but they do deal with adult themes and emotions.

The only minor complaint, minor because it is a very enjoyable book and can be enjoyed as pure entertainment without the analysis, is that there is an underlying political comment which would seem to be pretty libertarian/conservative. This plays out mainly when two fables report an issue wereby one of them can not conceal his identity as a result of marital discord (it's beauty and the beast), Snow White, who's characterised as really hard headed and hard hearted, attacks them for being dependent on Town Hall and then makes observations on the proper scope of government (whether Town Hall should provide either marital counselling or subsidise the purchasing of a spell). There are points made later which would suggest that the underground government itself is a form of voluntary association, King Coal is refered to as unofficial ruler, and in the place of taxes are annual donations at a grand ball commemorating the fables flight from their homelands. Given the plot I thought alternate narratives would be just as likely, my acquaintence with fables and fairy tales wouldnt convince me that they would hold fast to libertarian/conservative ideas.

This has great potential sort of subtle opinion forming, particularly if the reader's not an adult or well read, and by no means is this book exceptional in employing that tact (I think there is a lot of it in the Serenity - Those Left Behind and Firefly - The Complete Series [DVD] [2003] books and DVDs) but it is content to be aware of.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for comic book fans!, 2 Sept. 2010
By 
Andre Nobrega (Porto, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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I've finally been able to start reading the Fables series. Having heard some friends' opinions about the first volume, I had low expectations, which were easily overcome by the comic book. I like the cover, I like the characters, I like the story, I like the illustrations and I like the text.
Fables follows a group of characters borrowed from worldwide known folklore, myth and literature, transformed into "real" people, their past loves, wars or dramatic rescues being just background to who they are when the book picks them up. They seem matured, aged even, having been through what we expect of regular people's lives and much more. They are living in "our" world, exiled from their fable lands which were invaded and conquered, one by one, by the armies of an Adversary no one really knows. To give an idea of what these series offer, the fables have their own government, Snow White is single and is the deputy mayor of Fabletown, the Big Bad Wolf (Bigby) is the sheriff and Prince Charming is broke. In fact, the way Bill Willingham transformed the characters is my favourite part of the book, they have personality, are different from each other and act accordingly (I'll leave Jack out of this, his character being the weaker and less interesting one in my opinion, he seems to go along as the story needs it). Legends in Exile tells about the investigation of Rose Red's disappearance and suspected murder, but this plot isn't quite as interesting as the story of how they were exiled in the first place and it is my curiosity for that main element and the characters themselves that convince me that I'll pick up the next volumes. In spite of having a main plot falling short of the other elements' quality, it is still very well written and, as said before, well illustrated and that by itself makes reading it worthwhile. Another very interesting detail was the short story in the end about Bigby, Snow White and Rose Red's rescue from the Emperor's troops and of how the Wolf came to be a human integrated in Fabletown's society.
I recommend these series for all comic book readers, and from what I've read and heard, if you like the first volume as I did, you'll love the rest for sure!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good way of using fairy tales., 31 Jan. 2004
I was fascinated when I first learned of the fact that most of the best-loved fairy tales had been rewritten so as not to shock the parents. This book brings back the edge and violence to those old stories, The Big Bad Wolf as the detective on a murder scene, Prince Charming as a sleazy opportunist. It's so refreshing to see the life and vigour once hidden behind the cuteness.
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