For some people, the biggest barrier to entry for the world of comics is that fact that, to be blunt, they don't give a crap about superheroes. Well, setting aside the entire traditions of mystery and horror comics, soap comics, manga, historical recreations, hyper-realist comics in the vein of Harvey Pekar , and adventure comics that tread near the superhero line without crossing it (think Tintin ), there's even a genre of fantasy comic that doesn't necessarily rely on the tropes of capes and crooks.
Take Fables , the epic story arc by Bill Willingham that imagines the fairy tale characters -- ALL the fairy tale characters -- marooned in New York City after a mysterious adversary (called The Adversary) has ejected them from their various fantastic homeworlds. Currently collected in 11 volumes of trade (the latest came out this month ), with yet more floppy issues arriving all the time and a five-volume spin-off series to boot , the world of Fables is rich and exciting, with all the visceral enjoyments of a good superhero book sans the superheroes.
The story starts off slowly, allowing readers to absorb the concept as the Big Bad Wolf (now, reluctantly, in human form to blend in with civilians) tracks down various mysteries at the behest of vice-mayor Snow White (who works for Old King Cole) in a manner similar to Kojak, if Kojak were able to eat little piggies whole. The animals unable to shapeshift are relegated to a farm upstate (yes, an Animal Farm) where shades of a communist revolution do indeed take shape, but, as with so many of Willingham's plots, there's a big twist.
For anyone who's tired of conventional plots, or who is bored of picking apart the formulas of network television shows, Fables is a powerful tonic, and the most addictive read to come along since the invention of spandex tights.
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