Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 2: Animal FarmFables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I will start this review with a confession. I've never read Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies, two literary classics that this volume of Animal Farm alludes to. However, even in my casual acquaintance with both books, I can see some parallels in the story.

Animal Farm is more serious than Legends in Exile, the first volume. It deals with the question of the Fables who cannot blend into society like their more human counterparts. Snow White takes her sister Rose Red up to the farm to do her twice yearly visit to find that it is in upheaval. A very grisly murder has taken place, and it was done to send a deliberate message. Many of the inhabitants of the Farm are ready to rebel and take back their rightful place in Fable society, eventually to go back to their Lands and overthrow the Adversary. Snow White's life is in great danger, and Rose Red is forced to choose between familial loyalty and self-interest. Will some of the Farm's fables stay on Snow's side, or will they all heed the call of revolution?

This novel tackles heavy subjects, but there is still some good humor, most of it on the wry side. Some well known figures from the fairy tales come out as quite vicious and heinous in thought and deed. Some act true to form if you have read their origin books. I was quite surprised at the fate of some fairy tale characters that I never would have thought to meet such an end. Willingham reminds us that while he writes about fairy tales, this is very adult subject matter (although arguably the fairy tales have always included darker themes and content). Snow White has to wise up and get a game plan pretty fast, and fortunately, she does turn out to have strong allies.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with this graphic novel series. Yeah, I know I'm halfway there when it comes to most fairy tale adaptations. But I don't like all of them, just the good ones. And this is very well done. While Snow White is a flawed character (as well she should be), I really like and admire her. She understands duty and has integrity. She's an independent woman with a snarky mouth, but also a kind heart. Rose Red is growing on me, although the girl has some issues. Bigby Wolf doesn't have as big a part in this one, but I'm glad he showed up. I give a shoutout to Reynard Fox for being a very unlikely hero. I won't say more in fear of 'spoilers' (a side joke to River Song fans), but I am mourning a character for their sad demise as well.

Different from the first volume, but just as good. Some dark imagery and disturbing content, but still in a strange way cheerful and diverting. So, 4.5/5.0 stars.

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