One of the most rewarding moments of my winter holiday was the morning I found to read the final installment in Fables, Bill Willingham (and company)'s long-running, brilliant graphic novel series.
Over 11 volumes (plus a few very fine spin-offs), Fables has treated us to a cracking story about the exiled community of mythological creatures living in secret in Manhattan -- a motley cadre of legendary figures who were chased from their homeland by an evil emporer bent on multiversal conquest. From Sleeping Beauty to Little Boy Blue and the Big Bad Wolf, the legends have lurked in our human society, mingling with us, sometimes acting as our friends and sometimes as our enemies.
Building from a series of clever little vignettes to an epic tale of war and betrayal, revolution and politics, Legends became one of my favorite graphic novel reads. The authors rarely strayed into the realm of the silly, playing their Big Idea as straight as a ruler, drawing me into the lives of these vividly realized, striving people who struggled to get along -- and get home. On the way, the authors fluidly change comic styles, flipping from simplistic children's comics to elaborate oil-paintings to stylized manga, choosing the style that suits the present storyline best.
With the final installment, the Fables go to war, and adopts the conventions of war comics. The story is big -- huge -- and the battles are nail-biters. Things don't go the way you'd expect, and the ending is... Well, it's just goddamned great, tying up the loose ends, resolving the emotional tension, honoring the years I'd put into following these adventures. I won't drop any spoilers here, but I will note that the resolution leaves things open for some additional spinoff books and storylines, which I'll be looking forward to.
In the meantime, if you're the kind of person who likes to banquet on a whole epic story in one setting, now's the time -- all the books are in print and available for your perusal. And if you, like me, have been following the story for years, rejoice for the end is at hand, and what an end it is.