By Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy (Vertigo)
In case you didn’t know, Fables are refugee fairytale, storybook and legendary characters who (which?) fled to our mundane Earth from their various mythic realms to escape a mysterious and unbeatable Adversary. Disguising their true natures from humanity they created enclaves where their immortality, magic and sheer strangeness (all the talking animals are sequestered on a remote farm in upstate New York) would not threaten the life of uneasy luxury they built for themselves. Many of these immortals wander the human world, but always under injunction never to draw any attention.
In Fables: Homelands the utterly self-absorbed and absolutely amoral Jack of the Tales (everyman hero of Beanstalk, Giant-killer, Be Nimble fame) did just that by stealing Fabletown funds and becoming a movie producer, creating the three most popular fantasy films of all time, based on (his version) of his life, consequently drawing physical power from the billions who inadvertently “believed” in him – and coining vast amounts of filthy lucre in the process.
A key tenet of the series is that the more “mundies” (that’s mundane humans like you and me… well, me anyway) who think about a fable character, the stronger that character becomes. Books TV, songs, all feed their vitality. In the first volume of his eponymous irreverent series Jack was brought low by the publicity-shy Fables Police: banished from Hollywood and ordered to disappear, with only a suitcase full of cash to tide him over.
He was captured and escaped from a particularly horrific fate – metaphysical neutering by The Golden Bough, a clandestine organisation that had been “vanishing” Fables for centuries – and is now on the run from those selfsame forces (in the attractive shape of the Page Sisters, dedicated hunters of everything Fabulous and Uncanny) after instigating a mass-break-out of forgotten and abridged Fables…
This second volume (collecting issues #6-11 of the Vertigo comicbook) opens with ‘Jack Frost’ illustrated by Steve Leialoha, as the legendary blowhard links up with a few other escapees in snow-bound Wyoming, and “entertains” everyone with the story of how he once knocked-up Lumi, the Snow Queen, after which he then helpfully “borrowed” her role in the supernatural cosmology and almost destroyed the cycle of Seasons before the Queen’s sisters Summer Spring and Autumn brought him to book…
The sharp eyed might notice that although the two chapters smoothly follow one another the attendant reproduced covers indicate that the concluding part was actually #11, not #7. Yes. Correct. You’re not wrong. Chalk it up to the magical drama of deadlines and move on.
‘Viva Las Vegas’ illustrated by Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy, opens in that legendary Sin City with Jack waking up hung over and married to a cutie who is also the billionaire heiress who will one day inherit much of that aforementioned modern Gomorrah. But things aren’t as great as they seem. For starters Jack has somehow been reunited with fellow escapee Gary, the engagingly peculiar but trouble-attracting Pathetic Fallacy. For another, nobody likes an obvious gigolo gold-digger and everybody is trying to kill him. Most importantly though, the disgustingly bloodthirsty Fable Lady Luck already secretly controls Vegas and doesn’t want someone like Jack around just when her lost magic horseshoe has finally, serendipitously returned to the city after being missing for decades…
Saucy, self-referential, darkly, mordantly funny, this series is a deliciously whimsical fairytale for adults concocted with much more broad, adult, cynical humour and sex than your average comicbook – so mothers and matrons be warned! This enchanting series is a wonderful view of how the world should be and every volume should be compulsory reading for jaded fantasists everywhere.
© 2007 Bill Willingham and DC Comics. All rights reserved.