Hey everyone! I hope you’re ready for some seriously fun stuff, because this week’s Pulp is going to delve into the universe of one of my all-time favourite comic series: Fables, by comic maestro Bill Willingham.
I picked up Fables on a whim years ago, and I absolutely devoured it; my collection of Fables trades is bigger than any other series I own, and I don’t even have all of the trades. Considering how much I love the series, it’s amazing that I haven’t picked up this week’s comic before now, but hey, I guess it’s better late than never when it comes to Jack of Fables.
Jack Horner is the greatest Fable of them all. That might just be his opinion, but when you’re the star of some of the greatest tales known to mankind – he’s the Jack of Giant-killing, Beanstalk and Nimble fame – you’ve gotta be worth something, right? Sure, he’s been stripped of his wealth and permanently banished from his home in Fabletown, but he figures it was past time that he returned to his wandering roots. His dreams of a life as a roguish wanderer are cut short, however, when he is unceremoniously dragged into a van and tossed into a Fable gulag. Known as the Golden Boughs Retirement Home, this Fable prison is run by the mysterious and deadly Mr Revise, and Jack has no intention of hanging around. Gathering a gang of downtrodden, de-powered Fables, Jack is determined to pull off the greatest jailbreak of all time.
Long-time readers might recall me talking about one of the Cinderella-centric Fable spinoffs a while back, and while I loved returning to the Fables universe, it didn’t quite replicate the charm of the original series. This time around, I’m much happier with how the spinoff has turned out. Part of that is due to the focus on a long-established, very prominent part of the Fables mythos – I think Jack’s massive ego plays a big part in making the series feel like an early Fables story. It does lack some of the connections to the original series that could have strengthened it, but Jack of Fables still runs with a story that stands up pretty well on its own. Jack is as reckless and borderline sociopathic as ever, and even if you’re not super familiar with the Fables setting, it’d still make for a very entertaining read.
The first volume, The (Nearly) Great Escape sets up some really interesting new characters and concepts, and expands on some of the Fables mythology previously established by Willingham in the main Fables series.
As far as I’m concerned, Jack of Fables is the perfect spinoff for a series like Fables. It’s different enough to establish and maintain its own identity, but still maintains the spirit of the original books. Reading Jack of Fables after all this time made me nostalgic to the point of diving back into every Fables book I can get my hands on! While the true depth and impact of the story does require some prior reading of the original series, I’m fairly confident that the story is enjoyable enough that anyone with a basic idea of the premise will have a ball. If, by some travesty, you haven’t read any of the Fables books by now, do yourself a favour and dive in – it’s a truly magical story, and it’ll make you look at some classic characters in a whole new light.
Written by Alastair McGibbon