Fables: Legends in Exile
by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina
(DC/Vertigo, 2002)

Fables is one of the cleverer story ideas to come down the pike in some time.

Beloved characters from traditional folk and fairy tales have fled their mythical homelands in the wake of an all-out assault by the mysterious Adversary. Now, many of them are settled in Fabletown, a pocket community in New York City, where they are led by their tough-as-nails deputy mayor, Snow White (who reigns under the benign, figurehead leadership of King Cole).

There are many familiar characters here, such as the transitional Beast, whose face and form fluctuate to the beat of Beauty's heart, and the lothario Prince Charming, who still loves them and leaves as fast as he can. Others include the trickster Jack of the Tales, Snow White's less-known sister Rose Red, the prince's second wife Cinderella and the cruel swordsman Lord Bluebeard. And then there is the cunning, hirsute Bigby, the original Big Bad Wolf, now in human form and serving as Fabletown's sheriff.

Bigby finds himself investigating an unusually serious case when Jack discovers the blood-smeared apartments of Rose Red -- and Snow's rebellious sister is missing. What follows is a detailed police procedural wrapped in the environment of a fairy-tale wonderland. But, fairy tales or not, this is no children's yarn. Some kids might be put off by scenes of carnage in fairyland -- and their language and active sex lives proves that these folklore heroes have grown up.

Legends in Exile gets the Fables series off to an excellent start. With boundless room for story potential, I am very eager to see how writer Bill Willingham develops this world of fantasy within reality.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 6 September 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.