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Jack of Fables: The Great Escape

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape (2007) Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, Andrew Pepoy

The (Nearly) Great Escape

I was slow to pick up this collection–and just as slow to start reading it–because Jack is one of my least favorite Fables characters. He’s a jerk. Why would I want to read an entire book about him?

Well, because Bill Willingham is really good, that’s why.

Like 1001 Nights of Snowfall, The (Nearly) Great Escape can be read apart from the rest of the Fables series. We are given the background we need (which is primarily his portion of Vol 6: Homelands.) and a brief overview of the Fables story. Unlike Snowfall, this looks to be the start of a new series connected to, but separate from, Fables.

If you have not been reading Fables, you could certainly start her and get introduced to some of the characters and events in that series. However, if you read this before you read the Fables series, you’ll miss some of the best parts of The (Nearly) Great Escape: Jack’s revisionist history of his part in the War with the Adversary. (I almost choked on my drink when I saw Bigby saying, “You SAVED us Jack!”)

And it is the fact that Jack continually revises reality to place himself in a more flattering light that makes this series. At the end of each chapter you read Jack’s version of what happened, then you read the reality and see Jack’s part in it–it’s very amusing.

After setting up his own studio in Hollywood, Jack loses everything except a single suitcase of money when Fabletown realized what he has been doing, and Beast comes in to take over his operation for Fabletown. While hitchhiking and trying to decide what to do with himself, Jack is picked up by a beautiful (of course) woman who is, unfortunately for Jack, not what he is hoping. Soon Jack is a prisoner of Mr Revise, and in his attempts to escape, runs into some old acquaintances from Fabletown.

We also see some of the characters who were missing from Fabletown–the Fables who were created in the new world, like Dorothy and Alice.

Although this story is certainly accessible to those who have not read Fables, I think the tale will be better appreciated by those who already know about Fabletown and have been keeping up with the Fables series. While the story is seemingly about Jack (or from Jack’s point of view anyway) we are also learning about other characters from Fabletown, and how those Fables who are not in Fabletown are faring–including some less than savory characters.

Despite the fact that given the choice, I’d rather read about some of the other characters of the Fables series, Jack of Fables is both interesting and amusing, and looks to be a way for Bill Willingham to expand beyond where the story arc in Fables is taking him.

One warning however, for those who are not familiar with Fables, this is an adult comic and and not for children. There’s unapologetic sex and nudity. So don’t give this series to a child without previewing it first, to make sure it is appropriate.

If you’re already reading Fables then you will definitely want to add Jack of Fables to your collection. If you’re not reading Fables you could certainly read this as your introduction to Fables. But you really don’t want to miss Fables, because as good as Jack of Fables is, the Fables series is better.
Rating: 8/10

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