Monday, April 12, 2010

Fables: Animal Farm

After having such a positive reaction to the first Fables collection, Legends in Exile, I could barely wait to start the second collection: Animal Farm, and see if it could live up to the promise shown in Legends in Exile.

Although most of Legends in Exile's main characters return in Animal Farm there are new ones introduced and it largely focusses on a different set of characters. Snow White and her less responsible sister Rose Red are two of the heroes, along with legendary smith Weyland Smith and Reynard the Fox. The villains this time are two of the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks, aided and abetted by Shere Khan (showing that the cast of characters and the concept can move beyond the nursery rhyme and fairy tale territory), and a host of other non human Fables.

The setting is also different. In order to teach her sister some responsibility and show her that there is a life outside of Fabletown, Snow White takes Rose to their upstate Farm, where the non human Fables live, so as not to arouse suspicion from the Mundane world. It appears that Snow and Rose have stumbled upon a brewing revolution, led by two of the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks. They are insisting that the non human Fables should leave the Farm and take their homelands back from the Adversary, and they'll stop at nothing to achieve that end, including murder. It was not lost on me that the title of this collection was Animal Farm and that it was the pigs leading the rest of the Farm's inhabitants in a revolt against their more human leaders. Goldilocks was not the sweet little girl from the fairy story either, she is now a grown up, fanatical revolutionary.

Snow and Rose have to find their own ways out of the mess they soon become part of. While Rose looks to have thrown her lot in with the revolutionaries, Snow is fighting for her life alongside the cunning Reynard. As in Legends in Exile there is a shock at the end, it's neatly tied up, but there's more scope left.

While Legends in Exile was reminsicent of a 40's detective story, Animal Farm is like a conspiracy thriller, with the obvious twist being the protagonists are characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Again Bill Willingham has taken a character not often considered a hero in Reynard and made him into one, and a noble one at that.

Penciling duties this time were handled by Mark Buckingham, but there was no drop in quality and his pencils complimented Willingham's story telling every bit as well as Lan Medina's had in the first collection.

I'm hooked and will soon be embarking on the third collection.

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