Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in 2.5 stars, 2017, Bill Willingham, Book Review | 2 comments

Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham
Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham with art by Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern

Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Series: Original Graphic Novel related to the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 212
Pages: 179
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Bigby Wolf takes center stage in what might be the most action-packed FABLES story to date. Bigby embarks on a quest through the American Heartland to find a new location for Fabletown. In his wanderings, Bigby stumbles across a small town named Story City, that, amazingly enough, seems to be populated by werewolves. Who are they and where did they come from? They aren’t Fables, but they sure aren’t normal mundys. They seem to already know and revere Bigby, but at the same time they’ve captured and caged him – but why? Unravelling the many mysteries of Story City may cost Bigby more than his life.

My Thoughts:
I expected to love this. Bigby Wolf is one of my favorite characters in the Fables world and a graphic novel featuring him should have been right up my alley. Unfortunately, it missed a bit.

It’s an original graphic novel that was published after Volume 17 Inherit the Wind. It’s not strictly after that book and it’s not crucial to the overall Fables story. It’s a side trip (literally) featuring Bigby. He ends up in a town founded by someone Bigby met when they worked together during World War II. The town is populated by werewolves so it’s not a hard leap of logic that Bigby’s old friend is a werewolf too.

The story just never fully grabbed me. I enjoyed the flashback to Bigby’s time in World War II the most. The present-day story was just not the usual Fables fare for me. Bigby as a wolf works. Bigby’s blood spawning a race of werewolves (who all look like Bigby’s old friend and his former Nazi scientist wife) didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

The artwork was also a disappointment. It was mostly pale colors and pastels. It just didn’t fully work to draw me in to the story. I’m used to bold and vivid colors in the Fables books and their spinoffs.

It’s a spinoff. It’s not crucial to the ongoing Fables story. There were parts I liked but there were enough parts I didn’t like to make this just average.

Rating 2.5/5

Read More

Fables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jan 13, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 2 comments

Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill WillinghamFables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #17 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 17 is a compilation of issues 108-113 of the comic series
From the back cover:

And a child shall lead them

The fearsome Mister Dark is dead, killed in a kamikaze attack by the only entity even colder than himself: The North Wind, King of the Frozen Wastes, Ruler of the Cardinal Winds — and Bigby Wolf’s deadbeat dad.

Now, with Bigby having renounced any claim to the throne, one of his cubs must take up the crown — and he and his wife Snow White must watch as the North Wind’s servants subject their children to a series of trials to determine who will reign supreme.

Meanwhile, winds of change are blowing in other lands as well: the once-winged monkey Bufkin’s impromptu revolution against the new ruler of the Pan Ozian Empire is gaining unexpected allies; Rose Red’s reconnaissance team finds good tidings at the Farm, just in time for Christmas; and in Castle Dark the former Nurse Spratt waits for the return of the Fables with bated breath — and sharpened blade.

My Thoughts:
I’m glad to move on from Mr. Dark. This volume has a couple of major story lines. I really enjoyed the one that focused on Bigby Wolf and Snow White’s children. One of them will take over in their grandfather’s place as the king of the North Wind. The children are subjected to a series of tests to determine which of them is the rightful heir. It’s a bit odd and fun but also a tad bit dangerous.

The second major story involved Bufkin and his crew traveling through Oz. I usually enjoy Bufkins adventures but this time around it just didn’t click with me for some reason. It was okay but I didn’t enjoy those parts of the book as much as I did the rest.

In addition, there are a couple of shorter stories. I really enjoyed Rose Red’s version of A Christmas Carol.

The artwork throughout was wonderful. The majority is by Mark Buckingham. He’s done most of the Fables series and I always enjoy his work The final issue is done by several artists and the variety of styles works well with the series of short tales that are not part of the main ongoing story line.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Fables Vol. 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in 2016, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Fables Vol. 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham
Fables Vol. 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #16 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 160
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 16 is a compilation of issues 101-107 of the comic series
From the back cover:

This Looks Like A Job For… The Super Fables!

Evil stalks the borders of Haven! Fed by fear and driven by darkness, Mister Dark has risen, more powerful than ever! Soon, the Fables’ defense will fall, and the day of doom will be upon them!

But lo, there shall come… the F-Men!

Assembled by the great and powerful Ozma and the wise and wheelchair-bound Pinoccho (don’t worry, his legs work fine — he just wants to look the part), these fabulous Fables will combine their powers to form a team-up to end all team-ups!

Every super-heroic personality will be represented: Big strong guys! Guys in cool armor! Miniature people who can bounce around inside the bad guy’s ear canal! That one girl who can fly! Even a roguish, hairy anti-hero with claws: Bigby Wolf himself! Together, they will overcome their fear and defeat Mister Dark once and for all!

Or maybe they’ll all die horribly within seconds. What do you think this is, a super-hero comic.

My Thoughts:
I’ll confess. I have been ready for the Mr. Dark story to be over for a couple of volumes. This time the Fables are making their last stand. Again.

The difference this time is that they’re approaching it a little differently. Avengers style before Marvel made the movie. Whether they’re successful or not I won’t say but it was an adventure. There were scary parts and there were funny parts and there were plenty of riffs on the superhero comic genre.

Bigby Wolf and his father The North Wind are forced to face their past and their fractured relationship. It was tense but again, I’m not spilling the outcome.

The first issue was unrelated to the main story but might be setting up some new places and characters for a future storyline. I always enjoy stories with Bufkin the formerly flying monkey.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in 2016, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 0 comments

Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham
Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #15 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 256
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 15 is a compilation of issues 94-100 of the comic series
From the back cover:

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
As the Free Fables of the Mundane World try desperately to shield themselves from the withering power of Mister Dark, Rose Red — the Farm’s ostensible leader — is finally jolted out of her crippling depression and into action by a timely revelation from her storybook past. Her epiphany comes not a moment too soon — as more and more of New York City falls under Mister Dark’s malign power, the chances of striking a decisive blow against him are getting smaller by the hour. Luckily, the survivors of Fabletown have the world’s most powerful witch on their side — and she well may be the only entity more ruthless than the Dark Man himself.

My Thoughts:
I’ll confess. I’m ready for the Mr. Dark story to be over. Despite that, there was a lot I liked about this volume of the series.

The first part focuses on Rose Red and her past and her relationship with her sister Snow White. There was a lot of background filled in during this part. Some of it had been hinted at in previous books but there’s a lot more information here.

The second part of the book is about Frau Totenkinder now known as Bellflower and her battle with Mr. Dark. This is a lot of exciting action as well as some pretty impressive strategizing and sorcery.

As usual the artwork was impressive. As much as I dislike the Mr. Dark story line the art in that section was impressive. The battle between him and Bellflower portrayed the action and the tension wonderfully.

I love this series and one of these days I’m going to need to buy my own copies so that I can reread it from the beginning.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

Read More

Jack of Fables Vol. 9: The End by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in 2016, 3 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 1 comment

Jack of Fables Vol. 9: The End by Bill Willingham

Jack of Fables Vol. 9: The End by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with art by Tony Akins and Russ Braun

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #9 in the Jack of Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 136
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 9 is a compilation of issues 46-50 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The allegedly legendary Jack of Fables has been through a lot of changes lately – big, bat-winged, fire-breathing changes – but one thing has remained reassuringly constant: a lot of people still want to nail his hide to the wall.
Now, after countless centuries of having his mouth write checks that no other part of his body could cash, Jack’s delinquent accounts are finally coming due. His swashbuckling son Jack Frost, the pistol-packing Page sisters, a wild man with an axe (er, sword) to grind and a busload of lost Fables looking for the promised land are all making a beeline for Jack’s hilltop hideout – and the epic brutality of their ensuing showdown promises to outshine even the tallest of Jack’s fabled trove of tales.

My Thoughts:
This spinoff series from the main Fables storyline has been very hit and miss for me. I’m not sorry I read them but I’m glad to have reached the end.

In this volume as with most of the series I found myself laughing out loud at times and feeling annoyed at others. Throughout the series my favorite parts have been those that featured other characters than Jack. Jack is kind of a jerk and annoying.

The finale to the series wraps up a lot of things. Characters from earlier volumes were nice to see again. The forecasted “Shakespearean Ending” was probably the only way to end this and while I’ll miss some of the characters it pretty much had to happen that way.

The artwork by Tony Akins and Russ Braun is some of the best of the series. There’s lots of action and a wide variety of settings and characters. Plenty of color and interesting elements in the backgrounds are always nice to see.

This series isn’t crucial to the Fables world but it’s a sometimes interesting and always surprising detour.

3 stars Rating 3/5

Read More

Jack of Fables Vol. 8: The Fulminate Blade by Bill Willingham

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in 2016, 3 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 0 comments

Jack of Fables Vol. 8: The Fulminate Blade by Bill Willingham

Jack of Fables Vol. 8: The Fulminate Blade by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with art by Tony Akins and Jim Fern

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #8 in the Jack of Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 126
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 8 is a compilation of issues 41-46 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
The newly dragonified Jack of Fables has finally found contentment in the form of a huge pile of gold upon which he can rest his enormous, scaly bulk. Contentment, however, never makes for an interesting story – which is why Jack isn’t the star of this exceptionally exciting collection.
Instead, his son Jack Frost takes center stage, traveling through a kaleidoscope of worlds in search of chivalric adventure and entry-level heroism. Along the way, his unique brand of open-hearted altruism will yield some cruelly valuable lessons regarding human nature – provided he can survive the endless waves of assassins that his efforts inevitably stir up.

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the increasingly insufferable Jack of Fables was totally absent from this volume of the series. This one is all about his son Jack Frost and his endeavors to become a hero. There are also occasional visits from Babe the Blue Ox and his remarkably hilarious fantasy life.

Jack Frost is determined to become a hero but he doesn’t think ahead very far before jumping in to help. His help has a tendency to be less than helpful. His sidekick Macduff the owl is a great character. He tries to rein Jack in but he’s not always successful.

This is the penultimate volume in the Jack of Fables spinoff from the main Fables series. They haven’t been nearly as good as the main series and I’m glad there’s only one more.

The artwork continues to vibrant and the story allows the artists to create some new and interesting settings. Some of it looks a little more science fiction that fantasy.

This one was actually OK but that was helped by the lack of Jack.

3 stars Rating 3/5

Read More