Fables is one of my favorite current on-going comic book series (and that's saying a lot considering how much I love my superheroes). In a nutshell, Fables is a story about a group of fairy tale characters run out of their homelands and living in a section of present day New York. The OGN 1001 Nights tells about their beginnings. Here's what I thought about it (spoilers)
I loved the framing of Snow White having to tell the sultan a story every night so he wouldn't put her to death. And at the very end she encounters Scheherazade and the last line of the book being " 'He likes stories,' Snow said." was perfect. So, thoughts on the individual stories:
"The Fencing Lessons" - After Snow marries Prince Charming, she has him teach her fencing so she can go back and kill the dwarves who raped her. An interesting story, makes you wonder if she and Prince would've stayed married (and him remained faithful) if she was able to let it go.
"The Christmas Pies" - Reynard is a fun side character, and I liked seeing him get the better of the goblins and free his animal friends with his cleverness. Buckingham's art here is even richer than the main series, the color works well.
"A Frog's Eye View" - James Jean does the covers of Fables, and this is his first bit of doing interior art. It doesn't disappoint, it's SO gorgeous! We get to see what happened to Flycatcher's (The Frog Prince) family. Who knew one of the more comic residents of Fabletown had such a tragic backstory? It's even sadder that he's still delusional about what happened.
"The Runt" - Here's where The Big Bad Wolf began. I like how the beginning has fantastical elements, the North Wind turns into a wolf and mates with a female wolf, but then he leaves his family. It never occurred to me that Bigby would be born in a litter, but it makes sense. He was the runt, but became strong by killing something bigger and bigger (I love how Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood took place in his youth). He wanted to kill his father, but the North Wind was too powerful. I wonder if we'll ever get to see Bigby's brothers.
"A Mother's Love" - One of the book's shorter tales, it's funny that Thunderfoot, although human, has to court a rabbit to restore him to what he once was (and it will probably never happen).
"Diaspora" - Liked the art here, not the usual fare, but good stuff. I like how Snow and Rose find Frau right after the "oven thing".
"The Witch's Tale" - The story of Frau Totenkinder. Although I thought she was just the witch from Hansel and Gretel, there's much more to her story. We see her being spurned by her lover and first practicing witchcraft. We see her role in Billy Goat's Gruff, Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince (making Fly's story even SADDER), Rapunzel, and others. Hansel and Gretel made sense as Willingham explains the nature of Frau's power.
"What You Wish For" - The other short story (only 2 pages), Mersey Dotes's tale was cruel in an ironic way.
"Fair Division" - I love the Three Blind Mice! At first I thought it was a tale of King Cole's generosity and whatnot, but at the end we see him writing off the talking animals and objects and sending them to the farm. Another heartbreaking story.
So there you have it, a great read with some of the best art I've ever seen. You really can interpret fairy tales in different ways. Who would've thought Bigby Wolf would make such a great hero? And it's interesting that in Gaiman's "Snow, Glass, Apples", he writes a story where the Queen is sympathetic and Snow White is like this vampiric devil child (and Prince Charming is a necrophiliac).