Written by Bill Willingham
Pencils by Craig Hamilton
Inks and Framing Sequence Art by P. Craig Russell
Colors by Lovern Kindzierski
Lettering by Todd Klein
Published by DC/Vertigo.
My verdict: Definitely. Own it.
The Premise: Fairy Tales are real. The characters in them are real. They live forever–or at least until they’re forgotten. Strangely enough, they live in New York, in their own little corner of the city. They’ve been there for a couple hundred years, though unbeknownst to the regular population of the city (a la Highlander). Snow White effectively runs Fabletown, Bigby Wolf is the local law enforcement, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) is an errand runner and general trouble-maker. All your other favorites are there too: Prince Charming (along with all his ex-wives–Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc.), Little Boy Blue, the Lilliputians, Goldilocks, all Three Blind Mice, etc.–trust me; they’re all there.
[ad#longpost]Fables: The Last Castle is a one-shot, graphic novel style story spinning off from the regular monthly series. In this tale, we get a little bit of the history behind the Fables and how they ended up New York, of all places. This story is told from Little Boy Blue’s perspective, and it is the story of the last boat out of the old world.
An unnamed Adversary, at some unspecified point in time, wages a war against the Fables in an attempt to destroy them all. One by one, he has destroyed the Fables’ strongholds, as well as their “gateways” to the new world. The last castle in this story is the Fables’ last hope. The Adversary’s massive army has surrounded the castle and is making one final push to overwhelm the walls. There’s no way they can all make it, and Boy Blue tells us exactly what went down. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so I’ll stop here–pick up a copy and find out for yourself.
The Writing: Bill Willingham really knows what he’s doing. If you thought comic books were nothing but superheroes in spandex, think again: Fables will absolutely defy your expectations; it’s funny, serious, mysterious, political, emotional, suspenseful and, above all, great reading.
The Art: Craig Hamilton is an able artist, though not my favorite. His characters verge on cartoonish, but not too much; his lines are smooth and both his characters and backgrounds are very detail oriented. His characters show real emotion, a somewhat uncommon trait in a snarling, gritted teeth, super-hero heavy art market.
Overall: It’s a great read on its own and can easily stand alone, but if you’re a fan of the regular series, you’ll have to have this as well. It’s fantastically done!