Sometimes series get bogged down after while, sometimes they drag, sometimes they become predictable. That is decidedly not the case with Bill Willingham's Fables books. Each one continues to be complex and imaginative. The series does not retell traditional fairy tales; instead, it places familiar characters in a completely new setting.
These days, most Fables live in the modern world among us Mundies because they've been run out of their homelands by The Adversary. Life in Fabletown (hidden in New York City) and on the farm (for creatures that cannot take on human form) can be pleasant and even loving and fun, but there is a constant underlying worry that The Adversary will finally catch up with them.
East meets West in the first story in Fables 7: Arabian Nights (and Days). The enemy has invaded Bagdad, and it's not just the Western occupying Mundy forces. Thus Sinbad—along with his advisers, harem, and slaves—arrives in Fabletown seeking refuge. Although Sinbad is treated with respect, Prince Charming's administration insists that all of Fabletown's inhabitants be free.
After some deliberation, Sinbad agrees to follow Fabletown's laws, declaring that he'll emancipate his slaves. Unfortunately, his primary adviser cannot accept Western ways and so decides to seize power for himself by releasing a dangerous D'Jinn. Can the Gingerbread House Witch and the North Wind find a way to save Fabletown with minimal collateral damage?
The second story in Fables 7 is about two wooden beings, Rodney and June, who fall in love and want to become human so they can marry and have children. They are given a chance to meet with Geppetto, who has the power to grant them their wish. The couple's transformation will require a great sacrifice, and that situation sets us up for future story lines.
The scan at the right (click to enlarge) shows life on the Fables' farm. I picked it so you could get an idea of the great artwork and colors and to let you see one of the lighter scenes. I also carefully avoided any kind of spoiler.
If you decide to read Willingham's Fables series, you'll want to start with the first volume and read them in order. The stories build on each other, and the characters grow and change and are affected by their experiences. You'll also want to look carefully at the drawings—Willingham and his artists include many visual and puns throughout the books.
Note that the Fables series is drawn by a team of artists: Mark Buckingham, Jim Gern, Steve Leialoha, Jimmy Palmiotti, Andrew Pepoy, Daniel Vozzo, Tod Klein, and James Jean.
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