Fables: What Are The Best Volumes?

If you’ve never read DC's Fables, it can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. The series ended this week with a 130-page final issue, leaving behind one of the most impressive series in comics. The core Fables titles ran 150 issues translated into 14 languages and told over 13 years with 3 spin-offs (composed of 50, 33, and 12 issues each), 1 video game, and 1 board game, all of which has garnered the series a grand total of 14 Eisner Awards. But don’t be intimidated. Reading Fables is absolutely worth it, and Comixology is having an enormous sale right now to help new readers jump in.

I started to read Fables fairly early in its run, catching up on volume 4 and eagerly consuming new issues every month after for almost a full decade. It’s a series that has always held a proud place in my library and which I have loaned to countless friends and family members. I’m on the fourth or fifth copy of the very first volume due to it being continually lost or damaged. While I can’t lend anyone reading ComicBook.Com the most recent version to join my collection, I have become something of an expert in recommending Fables.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Fables follows the lives of “Fables” characters recognizable from folk tales and mythology who have been forced to flee their homelands by a mysterious adversary. They are the last remnants of many diverse worlds living in a small community in New York City called Fabletown. Throughout the series, hundreds of characters come and go, playing into stories of both epic and minute scales, with almost limitless potential. It is told by an endlessly talented brigade of creators including writer Bill Willingham, artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, and 7-time Eisner award-winning cover artist James Jean.

It’s a series I have shared with my mom, sister, girlfriend, as well as countless friends, co-workers, and classmates. A lot of comics are presented as being a series for everyone, but Fables is the exceedingly rare example of one where that is almost true. Like the pantheon of fairy tales it encompasses, Fables captures so many wonderful aspects of storytelling. It is capable of inducing belly laughter and great streams of tears, providing a warmth to your heart and a sharp spike of ice to your spine. At its absolute best, it can do all of these things in a single issue.

If you’re still hesitating to check out Fables at this point, I’m not sure what more I can say. However, if you want to take advantage of the Comixology sale, I have two recommendations based on how far you can stretch your wallet.

You can purchase the first 4 volumes (issues 1-27) for only $19.96. It is over these first 4 volumes that you can see the diversity and scale of Fables grow and cohere. The story arcs include murder mysteries, heists, and war tales. Volume 4 solidifies the central mythos of the series with the very first modern encounter between Fabletown and the Adversary.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, I would highly recommend buying the first 11 volumes (issues 1-75) for $54.89. The first half of the series tells the story originally conceived of by writer Bill Willingham, concluding with the war between Fabletown and the Adversary. The series still had a long ways to travel, but this half composes a story that feels both significant and complete. I repurchased all 11 of these volumes when the sale began to relive the first great epic of Fables.

For those of you that are entering the world of Fables for the very first time, I envy you. It’s a special place that has been with me for a very long time. I’ll leave you to start once upon a time in Fables #1; you’ll reach happily ever after far too soon.