Bill Willingham, Fables, The Deluxe Edition: Book One (Vertigo, 2009)

As might be surmised from the subtitle to this collection, Vertigo has given Bill Willingham's long-running series Fables the deluxe treatment, much as it has with other top series, such as Sandman, V for Vendetta and Death. This gorgeous volume reprints the first ten issues of Fables, previously collected in Legends in Exile and Animal Farm, along with a sketch gallery. If somehow you've missed out on reading Fables, this is a perfect opportunity to dive in feet first.

As to what the waters are like, here's a quick summary of the early action:

Imagine, if you will, if the inhabitants of the fairytales you know so well -- human and fantastical alike -- were alive and well and living in New York. Such is the premise behind Bill Willingham's Fables series for Vertigo Comics. The Fables, as they call themselves, have long since been driven from their lands by an entity they call only The Adversary. The human-looking Fables settled in New York City, in a neighborhood they call Fabletown. Those who are less than human (think the Three Little Pigs, Shere Kahn, and Oz's winged monkeys) live in bucolic upstate New York. Good King Cole is mayor of Fabletown, but the real power is in his deputy, Snow White. Long divorced from Prince Charming and estranged from her younger sister Rose Red, Snow White is quite far removed from her former passive self. Helping her maintain order is the Big Bad Wolf, better known now as Bigby Wolf, gumshoe detective.

Calling this volume just a reprint doesn't do it justice, though. For starters, it's a sturdy hardbound book, bearing the amazing wrap-around James Jean cover to Animal Farm -- along with a high-quality slipcover of the same image. Inside, the paper is of a similar high-quality, and the images and text have been remastered, to stunning effect. The colors are vibrant and full of life, the art all but jumping off the page, and the text is crisp and easy to read. With a price tag of only $29.99 (easily found discounted), The Deluxe Edition, Book One is worth the price, and then some.

In Bill Willingham's introduction, he indicates that the current plan is to release one deluxe volume a year until the series has been completely collected (of course, as the series is on-going, that may take a while). This should give Fables fans something special to look forward to for the next several years.

[April Gutierrez]

Bill Willingham's online home is here, while Vertigo's is here.