Quick Hits: Fables Volumes 1-5

Volume 1
Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

I wish I could remember who first tumbled me to the amazing thing that is Fables, the story of the fairy tales we know and love who fled to our world after the Adversary attacked them. (Oh man, the identity of the Adversary is a classic, once you get to it...)

In this set up edition, we meet Bigby, Snow, Rose Red, Jack, and the many others who make up the colorful cast of this wonderful ensemble book. Things start with a bang, as Rose Red has been murdered! Who did it? Well, leave that to the man with a nose for these sorts of things.

Willingham starts the series with a great little murder mystery and introduces us to the Fables world along the way. His creative use of the characters is as innovating as it surprising at times. Luckily, this book has done well over the years and is still going as of this writing.

Volume 2
Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha

The Amazing series Fables continues, this time shifting focus to all those Fables who can't just fit in with Mundy society. Where to put them? On an Animal Farm, of course.

But all is not well, and revolution is afoot! Can Snow beat the odds and find a way to stop the animals from overturning everything the Fables have worked for? And even if she wins, what's the final cost?

Willingham crafts another amazing story, bringing out--and killing--even more creatures from my childhood. This is a seriously amazing story and if you aren't reading it, you really need to start.

Volume 3
Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Bryan Talbot, Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Linda Medley, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton

Perhaps because there are 4 different stories collected here, this one feels a bit too disjointed as compared to the rest. There's a lot of filler here with Willingham just telling fun one-off stories that I don't think fit here as well because the series is still too new for it.

The stories are still pretty good, however, especially the Jack story that leads off the trade (and perhaps was a pitch story for Jack's solo series) and Linda Medley's fill-in art issue. In between is a comic piece that could have been done as one issue and a slightly sprawling story about Bigby and Snow, with Goldilocks thrown in for good measure. Oh and whatever you do, don't mess with Prince Charming....

Simply amazing series that everyone, even non-comics folks, should read
, even if this third collection has less cohesion than the first two offerings.

Volume 4
Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton & P. Craig Russell

This may be my favorite of all the Fables story arcs I've read so far because it shows just how intricately Willingham has this idea plotted out.

We start with a story from the last dates of the Fables in their war against the Adversary, drawn and/or inked by P. Craig Russell, which would make it good no matter what. However, it's made all the better by the cameos of different Fables we've not seen, such as those from Robin Hood or the Crusader days.

The main story is the first real fight against the Adversary, who comes disguised and ends with a battle royal. All of the Fables must band together to stop the Fable equivalent of a robot army and the battle plans are amazing. There's clever plotting, good writing (Willingham's dialog here is some of his best), and, best of all, sets things up for even more good stuff. I cannot recommend this series highly enough!

Volume 5
Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Tony Akins and Jimmy Palmiotti

The saga of the Fables continues as we get the aftermath of the great battle, political changes, and the pregnancy of Snow leads to further complications for herself and the Fables community.

We also get to meet Bigby's father, which is pretty cool. (Again, I cannot stress enough how amazing Willingham's thought process is on this series.)

But the best thing of all is a lovely WW2 story of Bigby that can only be described as Chaney-esque, because to say more would ruin it for you. Fables is far and away Willingham's best work.