FABLES: ANIMAL FARM by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha
Bill Willingham is gleefully (one can only imagine) writing a series of adult fairy tales for DC Comics’ Vertigo Imprint. He’s been at it for years and no one is holding him in check. Maybe they can’t. Maybe his powers have grown that great. But in that time (and he’s still at it), he’s fractured every fairy tale I know and dug up quite a few that I hadn’t heard of. Oh yeah, his scope is international, so no childhood tale is safe from his malicious clutches.
In Fables: Animal Farm, Bill Willingham mixes in several fairy tales, including the Old Woman Who Lives In A Shoe, and a touch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm in an evil little concoction that once again brings his enchanted vision of Fables to life. In this volume he concentrates on The Three Pigs, who are not so nearly innocent as they were when they were in the construction business with varying degrees of success and the Big Bad Wolf at the door.
This second story arc takes up immediately after the first one and jumps headlong into new territory. It only stands to reason that the talking animals from Fables can’t integrate with the mundanes (humans) of our world and have to have someplace to live.
Snow White takes her annual road trip up to the Farm with her sister Rose Red in tow. There’s a lot of sibling squabbling going on and readers are treated to a familiar argument with LOTS of “history” thrown in. I enjoyed the sister rivalry a lot, and it expanded on the plot that was presented in the first graphic novel (first five issues of the comics series).
I was also amused by Colin the Pig’s mournful complaints about not getting to live in New York because he was a “city pig.” I liked the character in the first graphic novel and wasn’t prepared for all the violence in this run. However, the cliffhanger ending in the first issue was shocking.
The big mystery on the Farm is what happened to Weyland Smith, the caretaker that has run the Farm for hundreds of years. It doesn’t take Snow and Red long to figure out that something nefarious is afoot. Actually on four feet, to be precise.
I loved Willingham’s take on the Three Bears and their complicity in the scheme as well. The fact that Baby Bear has grown up and now looks quite bookish is hilarious, as well as being something of a lumbering threat. And the fact that Goldilocks is getting them involved with all the evil activity is a hoot! The idea that she’s Baby Bear’s lover is scandalous!
I loved the inclusion of Reynard the Fox in the storyline. He was perfect as the spy, and his lascivious nature and cutting remarks were fantastic. Reynard’s battles with the animals from Rudyard Kipling’s stories was amazing, and I would never have thought of it.
Willingham does a fantastic job spinning through the story problems and all the relationships. He delivers twist after twist that totally blew me away and made reading a pleasure and exciting. If you haven’t discovered Fables yet, you’d be better served picking the series up in order because there is an organic growth to the world and the characters.