Storybook Love is the third collected volume of Bill Willingham’s Fables, and given the somewhat mordant cast of the first two volumes, one might guess that the love of the title is not all it’s cracked up to be — it’s certainly not anything you’re going to find in a fairy tale.
The volume starts off with a side story about Jack, who, true to form, decided that the way to make his fortune was to join the Confederate Army during the Civil War, become a war hero, and marry the heiress to a rich planter. You can guess how that turned out.
The main story starts off with an interview between Briar Rose, also known as Sleeping Beauty, and Bigby Wolf. Rose’s problem is that the witch’s curse that caused her to fall asleep when she pricked her finger still works: she pricked her finger on a brooch at Tiffany’s and promptly fell asleep — along with the entire sales staff and eventually, everyone in the neighborhood. Then the briars started sprouting. Then Bigby is confronted by a journalist who has discovered the Fables and concluded that they are all vampires. He’s going to expose them in his next big article. Fortunately, Bigby figures out a way to nip that in the bud using Briar Rose’s particular talent. It seems, however, that Bluebeard is conspiring with Goldilocks to overthrow the legitimate Fabletown government. Discovered by Bigby and Snow White, he manages to hypnotize them and sends them off on a camping trip, with Goldilocks on their trail to make sure they don’t return. He is also moving in on Sleeping Beauty — she’s one of the few Fables who held on to her money, and Bluebeard is nothing if not greedy. (Remember, he has a history of very short marriages.) Prince Charming, who has fallen in love with Beauty — and her money — all over again, takes exception to this and challenges Bluebeard to a duel. There’s a lot of revealing interplay among the characters here, but the meat of the story is the relationship between Snow and Bigby, which, as you might imagine, is pretty spiky.
Willingham has once again scripted a very rich, satisfying story, although it’s not one I’d recommend for your pre-schoolers — aside from the nudity and sex, there’s a fair amount of violence. The character building continues, however, and Willingham adds layers to the main players, although not all of them are very pretty.
The art, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Bryan Talbot and Linda Medley, keeps the open feel of the prior volumes, and there are passages where the layouts get a little more adventurous than the norm. There are differences in style, but they don’t jar — overall, the visuals are pretty consistent.
Collects Fables #11-18.