Posted - October 2, 2011 | Updated : August 22, 2015

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Fables: Legends In Exile


The incredible Fable series is from the mind of Bill Willingham.

By the time I write this, I've already read every Fables issue up to the high seventies. So here, I'm looking at the first issue again. The first Fable we see is Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk fame.

Fables panel : jack

Then Flycatcher of Frog Prince fame

Fables panel : flycatcher

Both go by so fast, but we'll soon be intimately familiar with these characters.

Then Bigby Wolf of Three Little Pigs fame; hah! We'll even see one of the pigs later. But it's not Bigby that I notice here. It's his office. By the way, it also just occurred to me that if you happened to grow up knowing nothing of the fairy tales, the whole Fable series would be trash to you.

Fables panel : bigby office

Man, look at this. I love that he has his own coffee service; I always run out of brewed stuff at the office pot. Look at that ashtray, it is absolutely brimming. Bigby is a chain smoker for a reason: It dulls his wolf senses. He claims that if he doesn't smoke, the scent of the city will drive him insane. Another thing is that bulletin board behind him, what a horrendous mess, lots of stuff posted there, but then again I'm reminded that these Fables are immortal and Bigby's been working as head of Fable security for a couple of hundred years. The most baffling thing about the office is the office itself. You'll notice later that every other Fable administrator have lavish offices, not to mention Mayor King Cole's mansion in the sky, why does Bigby Wolf, Head of Security, no less, settle for this office?

I mean, look at Snow White's office:

Fables panel : hall

Snow White is talking to two other Fables, Beauty and the Beast.

Fables panel : b and b

Check out Beauty. Wow. By the way, art is by Steve Leialoha. Remember the story of Beauty and the Beast? Beauty falls in love with him and he turns back into a human? Well, it turns out there's a wrinkle to that tale: Beauty has to be in love with him continuously in order for him to retain his human form. Today, Beauty's not too fond of him that's why he gets the horns and the fangs. Not all Fables are human, I believe I just mentioned the three little pigs, non-human Fables get carted off to a location called the Farm so that they can't be seen by regular folks. The Fables live among us in absolute secrecy. Going back to Beauty and the Beast and the nature of Beast's humanity, he should request transfer to the Farm immediately. Anyone of you who is in a halfway serious relationship know that it is impossible for a girl to be in love with a guy continuously. If I was Beast, I'll probably be human every second Thursday, tops. And look at the nature of Beauty and the Beast's problem? Money. Oh boy. The big M. Beauty is working for minimum wage in a bookstore, I don't know what job the Beast is holding. Money?! The lack of money is the ultimate love killer.

Oh yeah, have you seen Snow?

Fables panel : snow

gorgeous huh?

Before we move on here's one last babeshot of Beauty

Fables panel : beauty

All in the name of getting into a good mood people. Moving on . . .

Here's another famous Fable, Prince Charming.

Fables panel : prince charming

He can seduce any girl. I hate him.

There is something about him I like, though. This is no squeaky clean Prince Charming. Let's hear it from him.

Fables panel : cocksmanship

That's right, cocksmanship.

Fables panel : cocksmanship 2

There is a murder mystery here centered around this room. Who's been murdered? Rose Red, Snow White's sister from the lesser known tale Snow White and Rose Red.

Fables panel : room

Just look at that. I've read the issue for the third time and my reaction is the same: It's just over the top. Too much blood really. And no body anywhere.

Now what happens is that we're given a series of panels that are supposed to provide clues to the astute reader as to what happened. Here are the panels.

Fables panel : clues1
Fables panel : clues2
Fables panel : clues3

The only comment I can make is that the ashtray has no blood underneath, so it was upended before the blood was spattered over it. I have no idea what that means. Seeing that I've read every Sherlock Holmes mystery and never once figured out the mystery before the end, it's no surprise that I'm clueless. I suck at detective work. I know though, that somewhere out there, is an armchair detective that is reading Fables for the first time and knows as much as Bigby knows based on the clues.Even before the big reveal in issue 5. To you I say Bravo! If your younger than ten years old, double Bravo!

I did say that we'll be seeing one of the famous Three Little Pigs right? Well here he is.

Fables panel : pig

Because Bigby Wolf 'blew their houses down' a long time ago, the pigs feel that Bigby owes them. So one of the pigs escapes from the Fable Farm and crashes in Bigby's apartment. I thought something was showing on the tv in this panel but its the reflection of the room - great attention to detail. In a great move, Bigby offers Pig some breakfast.

Fables panel : ham


Babeshot. Remember the girl Prince Charming was 'entertaining' last issue.

Fables panel : babe

The script is pretty tight on this note but it really describes Prince Charming accurately.

Fables panel : note

I think Willingham's take on the Prince is ingenious, and, after it's revealed, seems perfectly logical. Simply put the Prince Charming of Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty are all one and the same. He's an unfaithful mate and after hundreds of years they all hate his guts.

Here we get a shot of the Woodlands Garden. Sculpted shrubbery, fountains, what a great setup. I live in the city myself, but where I am, its cramped and there's concrete everywhere. I just love seeing stuff like these.

Fables panel : garden

Jack, whom we saw earlier, is suspected of the murder of his girlfriend. It's the usual interrogation but what interests me is the dungeon cell they have under The Woodlands, complete with dim lighting, adobe walls, exposed toilet and rolled up mattress.

Fables panel : dungeon

If this was a cape comic, Snow White would be Diana Carter, Wonder Woman, strong, focused, charismatic. She's actually a pretty daunting personality for a cheesecake lover like me. It's nice to see her indulge her love of chocolates.

And now we come to Bluebeard.

Fables panel : bluebeard

Hmmm. From the folk tales, Bluebeard is supposed to have a, well, blue beard. Anyway, very briefly, Bluebeard was a serial killer, his victims being his numerous wives. Here, he is one of the riches of all Fables because he bilked some of the others for money in exchange for escaping the Adversary, a terrible conqueror that has taken over all the Fable lands. Anyway, here's another wonderful fancy from Willingham.

Bigby and Snow are about to enter Bluebeard's room in The Woodlands.

Fables panel : blue room

Not only does Bluebeard retain an ogre for a servant but he also has an entire castle inside his room. It's Fable magic available to any Fable who can pay the price of the numerous Fable sorcerers and witches in The Woodlands.

Fables panel : castle

Being informed he is a suspect in Rose Red's murder Bluebeard informs Snow and Bigby that he and Rose Red are engaged to be married, and thus, our issue ends.

One of the most amusing things about this issue are these two guys : Flycatcher and Boy Blue.

Fables panel : room setup

I keep going back to this two long after I've put the issue down. I'm very impressed by their dedication. Why? Because Bigby gave them a ton of work in this issue that would have me complaining in no time.

Here's the thing. Job 1 : Get a whole bunch of furniture exactly like the ones in Rose Red's apartment and arrange it in a similar way in an apartment that has the exact same measurement as Rose Red's. Job 2, and most horrendously difficult of all, recreate the blood spatter from Rose Red's apartment in this new room using real blood. I don't even know if this is really possible. By the end of job 2 they would be exhausted, yet Bigby still has job 3. Job 3, clean everything up. These Fables are something else.

Ah, the rooftop mansion of The Woodlands

Fables panel : mansion

The mansion belongs to the leader of the Fables in exile in our world which they call the Mundy world, a non-magical realm too boring to call the attention of the Adversary. This leader is referred to as the Mayor and the Mayor-for-life is King Cole of the Old King Cole poem fame.

I find it delightfully cheesy that we are shown his pipes.

Fables panel : pipes

His bowl.

Fables panel : bowl

And the fiddles of his 'Fiddlers Three'.

Fables panel : fiddles

It's the bowl that funks me out - it's uselessly huge, its in the middle of the dining table and its full of Monkey Crunch cereal.

Snow informs the Mayor of the murder investigation. In the meantime, Bigby finds several computers in Jack's apartment and brings one to investigate.

Fables panel : computer

Remember those old, bulky CRT monitors? Remember how heavy they were? Here's Bigby carrying a complete system including CRT with his bare hands. Man, that is heavy; I could never do that.

Another amusing detail is that Bigby, The Big Bad Wolf, simply can't work with technology. He says it best.

Fables panel : machine quote

Fascinating (Vulcan accent).

Look at the computer system again and tell me it doesn't bring back memories of your old computer.

Fables panel : computer2

Here's Grimble, sleepy security guard. I love how Bigby apologizes for 'disturbing his grueling schedule of daily naps'.

Fables panel : guard

This isn't really him though, Grimble is really a troll, the toll taking troll from, you guessed it, another fairy tale. A magical glamour makes him look human. This is his real form:

Fables panel : grimble

Looks like the sleepy Fable guard is a lot tougher than he looks.

The Fables have a day that they celebrate just like we do - New Year's, it's called Remembrance Day. It's a day when they remind themselves that they are exiles and that someday they hope to go home again.

On this day, they gather for celebration. Among other things, there is a raffle. The Prize for this Remembrance Day? The title and lands of Prince Charming - currently in Adversary-conquered territory. The tickets are popular, which is a surprise to me. Here's a hypothetical: You get to flee a dictatorship from your country where you used to own vast lands. You auction out these lands in a raffle. Would anybody buy the ticket? Thought so.

And here we have a great illustration from Lan Medina of the Fables being driven out of their lands.

Fables panel : invasion

Just wonderful.

I find this particular panel very interesting.

Fables panel : family

The Fables don't keep to themselves. Some of them live among us. Look at this family. Very normal-looking. Nice apartment, pizza night, yet they're Fables and they're celebrating Remembrance Day at home.

And here's Pinocchio. Before, he wanted to be a real boy. Now that he is a real boy he wants to take the next step.

Fables panel : pinnochio

I feel for him, I really do. I don't see why he can't just buy a magic spell for what he wants.

I love this kitchen scene with all the bits of dialogue here and there; it just conveys the absolute busyness of the situation very effectively.

Fables panel : kitchen

Bigby has figured out the murder mystery and invites everybody up to King Cole's mansion for the big reveal.

First up, Rose Red is still alive and is among them in disguise.

Fables panel : disguise

Remember all those clues in the panels from issue one? Well here's the explanation for each of them.

Fables panel : clue 1
Fables panel : clue 2

The blood? It turns out the blood was collected over a period of time and kept fresh in the freezer. Rose Red and Jack were in cahoots all along. The whole thing was done to avoid marriage to Bluebeard, which was agreed to for a huge amount of money that Jack lost in a failed investment.

In the end, Bluebeard is payed off by the money raised by the raffle, with the leftover going to the Prince. The point is, money solves it. Sometimes it seems it all boils down to money doesn't it?

The first five issues of Fables are very good, but the issues going forward are even better.

Next: Falcon 4 Trial By Fire