Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Lan Medina (penciller), Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton (inkers)
The Fables series began with fabled humans living in New York, exiled from their own lands. “Animal Farm” collects Willingham’s second Fables story arc, depicting the rest of the fabled creatures. Without a human shell, the non-human creatures are forced to take refuge on a farm. This is all well and good for most of them, however Goldilocks, assisted by the three little pigs, has a different plan in mind. She seeks to arm a militia who will bring about a revolution. Snow White and Ruby Red return to the farm and quickly find themselves entangled in the political struggle. Can they restore order to the farm and make it out alive?
As one can guess from the story’s title, “Animal Farm” is inspired by the Orwellian classic. The political motives and characters in Fables are unique, but both stories tell of a political revolution led by animals on a farm. While I didn’t find the story flawless, I did find the connection to the novel to be brilliant. There is nothing forced to draw this connection and the story arc sets up a nice introduction to the non-human creatures.
Like in the real world, suppressed peoples sometimes have a surrogate leader — one who isn’t one of their own — to lead a revolution. For the animals, this character is Goldilocks. She is sympathetic to the animal’s cause, but is ruthless in her methods. Even the animals that will stand against her are murdered without second thought and made a public spectacle for all to see.
The fabled human and non-human creatures share a common enemy of the adversary, but Fables does not take the easy route of making a story focused solely on this struggle. Living in exile is not easy. The humans have become, in a sense, upper class — free to roam New York because of their ability to remain inconspicuous. It is only natural that internal strife develops between the humans and the farm.
What I am really starting to like about this series is the richness of the characters. Snow White is obstinate in applying her sense of morality to the extent that it becomes a flaw. She doesn’t trust others and is slow in seeing things from another perspective. Her sister, Ruby Red, on the other hand is much more open-minded, secretive, and cunning and we never really know whose side she is on.
Once again, the artwork was skillfully done. Medina has a good sense of perspective and I enjoyed seeing his military inventions such as the gun developed for the hare and tortoise (one can only imagine the hare mounted upon his slow-paced companion’s shell, spraying bullets across the landscape).
I don’t have any major criticisms of the second Fables collection. I suppose I wasn’t a huge fan of the three giants and the dragon as fabled creatures, but my quibbles seem to have resolved themselves for future installments. Fables is fun to read and provides a nice level of suspense and humor to keep me wanting more. I look forward to the next comics in the series.