Review – Everafter: From the Pages of Fables #1 (Vertigo)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writers: Dave Justus & Matthew Sturges
Artist: Travis Moore
Colours: Michael Wiggam
Release Date: 7th September 2016

This month, a new chapter in the critically-acclaimed Fables series launches from Vertigo. For those not “in the know”, the Fables series spanned over a decade, telling the stories of various fairytale characters that had been expelled from their homeland and forced to live in the real world (or, New York City, to be precise). Two years on, ‘Everafter’ commences after the end of Fables to tell the tale of a world besieged with the presence of magic which, if unchecked, could ravage our planet. To combat the threat, an organisation has emerged (‘the Shadow Players’), comprised of Fables willing to investigate and intervene in magical happenings for the greater good.

Writers Dave Justus and Matthew Sturges are no strangers to the franchise and re-introduce readers to some familiar faces, including Bo Peep and Hansel. The name drops are light-touch and the establishment of the relationships between the characters deftly handled. The writers achieve the perfect balance for both old and new fans of the series. For what is essentially a set-up book, this first issue is also surprisingly pace-y. At the outset the narrative does suffer from being a little clunky in places as Bo Peep sets the scene, but overall the level of exposition-dumping is low, with most information instead cleverly woven into the plotline.

The story itself is gripping from the off. We follow Bo, Hansel and Peter Piper in the field as they battle their way through a horde of zombies to retrieve a mysterious ‘package’. Meanwhile we’re introduced to the Shadow Players through the eyes of Connor Wolf, who becomes their latest recruit. There are twists-and-turns aplenty served in such a short medium, and some cracking dialogue to enjoy including some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Connor does have the potential to grate on readers’ nerves with his youthful exuberance (at one particular moment, he genuinely describes himself as a ‘bad bitch’), but the writers are careful to reign him in with some well-executed dialogue that transforms his character from irritating to endearing.

The narrative is supported by Travis Moore’s magnificent artwork. Between the frog administrators and blood-spattered motorbikes, you really are spoiled for choice as to where to look on each panel. The writers may set up the characters well through the story, but it’s Moore that truly brings them to life through their expressive features and detailed outfits. Together with Michael Wiggam’s vibrant colours, it truly is a feast for the eyes.

‘Everafter’ boasts a fantastic concept which builds on the success of the original iconic series to breathe life into this new story. For those that haven’t dipped into Fables previously, never fear, you won’t need to have read the prior series to become instantly hooked here. I promise you though, once you get to the end of this first book, you’ll feel like you’ve seriously missed out.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Claire Stevenson
Claire Tweets from @cookie___raider.

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