Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape

JackJack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape by Bill Willingham

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Fables has the distinction of taking on the mantle that Neil Gaiman discarded after ending Sandman.  It’s an odd blending of modern storytelling and old fairy tales, with a clever interpretation of the characters from the latter.  I’ve enjoyed the series so far, and I look forward to seeing the directions it will take.

The (Nearly) Great Escape is the first volume in a spin-off series surrounding the charismatic Jack, who has been exiled from Fableland for revealing too much about the Fables.  As a part of the Fables series, Jack was a pain in the ass, but a lovable one, if only because of his charm.  As the center of his own series, though, his arrogance shines through, and he becomes more insufferable because of it.  It’s hard to relate to someone so hung up on himself that he resorts to bragging about his exploits in the voice-over narration of the overall story.

This is just the first collection of the series, and I will likely continue reading it as the collections become available, but I wasn’t impressed with this side-jaunt.  Willingham seems to have collected a group of misfits together (including one who was assumed dead from the main series) in an effort to cash in on the popularity of Fables1001 Arabian Nights (and Days) was a clever prequel to the overall series, so I hesitate to call it a cash-cow, but Jack of Fables doesn’t quite stand well enough on its own.  It meanders too much, and would fit perfectly into the overall Fables series, so why make it a separate series at all?

The series maintains some of the enigma of the original series, with the readers trying to guess who some of the mystery characters are, and the plot works well enough, but it seems thin, and unimportant.  I couldn’t seem to care about what was happening in the story, partly because the protagonist was a  selfish ass.  I was more interested in the secondary characters and what happened to them than I was in Jack.  Maybe that was the point, though.

To be fair, a lot of what’s happening in this collection is the exposition.  We’re meeting new characters, learning how they fit in with the general continuity of the parent series, and learning a bit about how this new world works.  The series format, being what it is, requires a story amid all this exposition, and if it feels rushed and thin, then it’s only because of the direction the story is forced to take. Like the original series, Jack of Fables has potential, and I’m willing to stick around to see how it goes.  I don’t think it’s as gripping or as groundbreaking as Fables was, but I’ll give it a try.

If you like Fables, I don’t think I can talk you out of giving this series a try, and to be honest, I don’t want to.  I guess I’m jaded from seeing too many spin-offs and sequels that would have been better off being undeveloped, but the story is decent enough, and it’s a fun diversion, despite its few faults.  Just don’t expect it to be the “next best thing.”

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May 30, 2007 - Posted by | Graphic Novels, Reviews

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