Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just Read: Jack of Fables Vol. 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape by various

The (Nearly) Great Escape collects the first "arc" of a spin-off of Bill Willingham's Fables series, featuring the adventures of the guy who was "Jack" in every single fairy tale and fable. (Fables being the story of lots of fabular -- fabulous? -- characters in the modern-day world.)

This book is written by Willingham and Matthew Sturges; there's no specific explanation as to how much Willingham contributes (big author/small author spin-offs often imply that the big author has done little more than read the book in question), but the tone, dialogue, and themes are pretty similar to the main book, so Willingham is either strongly involved or Sturges is on the same wavelength enough so that it doesn't matter.

In this story, Jack -- having been kicked out of Hollywood by his former friends of Fabletown and told to make himself incredibly scarce -- runs afoul of a previously unknown player in the supernatural-creature game, who has some unspecified reason for wanting to depower Fables (which he does by incarcerating them until they're forgotten, basically -- this is the old "magical power comes from worshippers" idea, with a slight twist). Jack's just coming off three blockbuster movies about his exploits, so he's about as strong and tough as a Fable can get (and arrogant and self-centered as ditto, but he was that way to begin with), and not an easy man to cage. From the title -- and the fact that a long-running "break out of magical prison" series would probably be redundant and boring -- you can guess, more or less, how it ends.

Jack is more than a bit of a jerk, so I'm not sure how long I'll be able to stand him; if Willingham and Sturges keep his adventures more light-hearted than this one, that will be better. (He's the kind of character who can't support too much drama or seriousness; he needs to glide through life without too much trouble.) I'll be back for the second volume, but I'm not yet convinced that I'll stick around for good. The main series is the serious one, with a large continuing cast, a secret history, and geopolitical parallels. Jack of Fables needs to be something distinctive -- nimble, light, and quick-moving, I'd say -- if it wants to carve its own niche.

1 comment:

Alexx Kay said...

Jack is more than a bit of a jerk, so I'm not sure how long I'll be able to stand him

I was reading this in 'floppies', but dropped it around issue 10. The total lack of sympathetic characters was a big problem. But the final nail in the coffin was the way in which Jack's narration made me feel that the *authors* were jerks who were lazy, arrogant, and stringing me around.

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