I picked up Fables, Volume 16 from the library, after reading Bill Willingham’s introduction to Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ Unwritten. His heralding the age of the LAF (Literary-, Animal-, Fairy Tale- based comics) Triumvirate made me curious about the differences between superhero comics and the ones that he felt a kinship towards. I enjoyed reading both Volumes 1 and 2 of Unwritten and I remember enjoying his Fables comics. I think I got up to Volume 4 before I stopped reading. I think I just got to a point where I simply wanted something different.
It had been a while since I read Fables. I was a little worried that I had missed too much to get back into the story. Happily, the prologue and the chart of relevant characters were enough to provide me with enough background to understand that the Fables (the namesakes of the series) had barely survived a battle with a powerful enemy called Mister Dark. The Fables retreated from their hometown, Fabletown, to a farm and then again to a place called Haven. In Haven, the Frog Price uses a magical incantation to surround the town with a protective barrier. Pinocchio has either been appointed (or self-appointed himself) to recruit and train a group of “super Fables” to protect the town.
Having read Bill’s introduction to Unwritten made the stories in Volume 16 particularly interesting because it placed LAF characters in a superhero universe. Pinocchio is befuddled by the difficulty he is experiencing from the recruitment of Fables that meet superhero cliches. For example, there is a funny scene where Rapunzel informs him that her long hair is not “living” and cannot pick up objects. She accuses him of being lecher because of the costume changes (he makes all of his recruits wear spandex outfits). Pinocchio looks aghast. He’s much more interested in meeting the comic book criteria for superheroes than well-drawn blond girls.
Fables, Volume 16 is a nice reintroduction to the Fables series. It successfully plays with the superhero and LAF Triumvirate genres(?) in a humorous and engaging way.