Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Bill Willingham & various

The new original graphic novel spun out of Vertigo's Fables universe boasts the talent of such artists as James Jean, Charles Vess and Jill Thompson collaborating with series creator Bill Willingham. With such talent on the roster, you'd think there would be some real standout art within this book, but the result is rather average across the board, save for series co-creator Mark Buckingham's lovely contribution that takes a surprising detour from his usual work on the title. Tara McPherson also deserves a nod for her fantastic style that was showcased in a Vertigo title from a few years back, The Witching, but has done nothing but improved since. Acclaimed series cover artist James Jean provided a dazzling cover for the novel, but his story didn't stand out as per usual, but rather pales in comparison with the designs of every cover he's done for the series to date.

The overarching story follows Snow White as she tries to persuade the Sultan of the Arabian fables to join forces with the exiles of Fabletown, against a common threat: The Adversary. Unfortunately things don't go as planned and Snow finds herself captive to a man who plans to marry her one night before she is beheaded in the morning, in accordance with his vow of years past. Cunning little Snow won't have that however, and in 1001 Arabian Nights tradition, tells the Sultan enchanting stories that end after the sun is up, promising another tale the following night. The tales Snow weaves tell of the past lives of characters out of the Fables universe. Any fan of the series will really enjoy this book, as it relates some very pivotal moments in characters' histories, including Bigby Wolf's origin, Snow White and Rose Red's flight from the Homelands, and the fate of Old King Cole's kingdom. Anybody not invested in this universe I would imagine would find this to read like Brothers' Grimms' fairy tales: little vignettes that aren't enough to get you emotionally involved with the characters, but are entertaining (and oftentimes disturbing) nonetheless. This really is a worthy addition to the Fables library of books and should appease anyone's appetite for a good fable. B+

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