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Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max: 7 Chapters In

June 28, 2010

Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max is turning out to be exactly what I needed this summer.

Seven chapters into the audio version — enthusiastically read by Wil Wheaton — I’m really starting to resent the fact that I’ve made it to my destination (thank you traffic?) and that I’ve got to turn the story off for the next several hours. Not all of my recent selections have been as compelling truth be told and this one is really coming off as a breath of fresh air. Not that I expected anything less given the caliber of the comic it’s born from and that I’ve enjoyed over the course of numerous volumes. Peter & Max is just as full of surprises as the Fables comic series from which it springs forth (you never know how things will quite turn out in Fables) and in at least a couple of ways the book may be even more impressive as Willingham has plenty of room to weave his exciting narrative and really flesh out the characters in the process.

Peter Piper, for example, is introduced early on as the stories stoic hero and we’re immediately impressed with the man he’s become given the care he provides his wife (won’t spoil who she is), the hospitality he extends to his neighbors and the willingness by which he assumes responsibility; but we also get to see that there’s a far more adventurous side to Peter (with professional training to boot?) as we are treated to flashbacks through alternating chapters of Peter’s youth, reveling in the people, places and events that later shape the man. I would reckon that one of the best scenes so far occurs when he’s about 10-years old, listening to a story his Dad must have told umpteen times, about a family ancestor and a very impressive battle. Well, apparently Peter just couldn’t contain himself  — knowing the story so well — and enthusiastically shouts out what comes next as his proud Dad pauses to allow him the moment. It was one of those scenes where the character’s heart is on full display and the result was a very memorable moment where I had to cheer for the little guy, and really hope the best for a tragic situation that was sure to come.

The story will be over before I know it, but assuming it remains anywhere near as compelling as it is now it’s going to be one of those books I have little choice but to read again (and perhaps again and again). Happily, I look forward to adding the hardcover to my shelf for just that purpose.

[In the speculative fiction audio queue: Bill Willingham’s Peter & Max, J.R.R. (& Christopher) Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin, Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker and I haven’t forgotten Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!]

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