Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham

Many months back, I read the first two Fables graphic novels, and had quite a bit of fun with them. I wanted to read more of them, but as seems to frequently happen to me, that went unfulfilled for quite a while. When I saw that Fables scribe Bill Willingham was putting out a Fables novel, I was pretty excited about it, both because it was stated that it required no knowledge of Fables graphic novels to enjoy (meaning that my being way behind wouldn’t hurt my enjoyment) and because it would give me a chance to finally get back on board.

Peter & Max tells the story of Peter Piper, who sets out to stop his evil brother Max, who would like nothing more than to bring upon the end of the world. However, this is just a nice frame to wrap around the real meat of the story, the flashbacks that give Peter, Max, and the rest of the Piper family, along with Peter’s wife Bo Peep, a full background story, from before the events of the fables that made them famous, through them, and into their future lives as refuges in New York City, hiding from the evil Empire that took over their world.

The novel works quite well in telling the story from childhood of Peter Piper, how he grew to become a hero and how he fell in love with Bo Peep. Max is developed to become a serious villain (think of another famous Piper from folklore and legend), and the plot is a lot of fun. Willingham does an excellent job of bringing everyone up to speed on exactly who and what the Fables are, and why they are in New York City. He inserts cameos from a number of other characters, ranging from Snow White, Ichabod Crane, and the Big Bad Wolf. The illustrations in the novel, done by Steve Leialoha, are wonderful. They were of perfect fairy-tale quality, and matched Willingham’s whimsical, humorous, and fable-esque writing style perfectly.

The only downside to this book is the conclusion, which felt very rapid. The entire modern day story, which begins as the crux of the novel but swiftly becomes the very brief background plot, revamps a bit towards the end, but seemed to be a little too easy for Peter Piper to win the day. However, that does little to diminish a very fun story that should interest (or re-interest) anyone in the great Fables series.

Also included is the very short graphic story “The Price of a Happy Ending,” written by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Steve Leialoha, that works as a sort of epilogue to the epilogue, and tells the story of Peter and Bo in the war with the empire, and is a bit of a somber note after the ending of the novel.

For fans of fairy tales, fables, folklore, legend, and myth (as I most certainly am), as well as those who enjoy straight fantasy, adventure stories, and fun, quick reads, pick up a copy of Peter & Max. I promise you’ll have a lot of fun.


No comments:

Post a Comment