Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile
The basic premise of Fables is that the fairy tale characters with which we are familiar from children's storybooks have had to escape their homeland and set up a new home. They choose Fabletown, an area of New York, living amidst the normal folk - or as the Fabletown residents disparagingly call them, 'mundies'.
Policed by Bigby Wolf (of Little Red Riding Hood fame), nominally ruled by Old King Cole and actually governed by Snow White, they have to keep their existence a secret from the mundies while making their exile in New York bearable.
The Fabletown community is thrown into turmoil when Snow White's less famous sister, Rose Red, is murdered. These first five collected issues see Bigby Wolf and Snow White do everything they can to trace the killer while keeping the intricate Fabletown politics in check.
Writer Bill Willingham and a selection of able artists (including Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Criag Hamilton) ensure that the dialogue and art are as engaging and fresh as the storyline. Much of the charm lies in the modernisation of the fairy tales' characters: Beanstalk Jack is a self-centred part-time thief; Cinderella is a social climber; and Prince Charming is a heartless lothario whose beauty is skin-deep and whose talent lies in draining the wallets of impressionable young mundy women.
Legends in Exile provides an entertaining introduction to a world where fairy-tale charm guarantees neither innocent behaviour nor a 'happy ever after' ending, and the good news for readers enchanted by the story is that there are already several more collected volumes lining the shop shelves.
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