Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Comics | 0 comments

Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill WillinghamFables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Lee Loughridge, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #18 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 192Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 18 is a compilation of issues 114-123 of the comic series
From the back cover:

Little Girl Lost

Her sister Winter was crowned the new North Wind, but all Therese Wolf got was a lousy toy boat.

She doesn’t much like the thing – and that’s before it starts whispering to her in the middle of the night, encouraging her to run away from home. But with her father preparing [sibling] for [their] new responsibilities and her mother busy with the rest of the brood, a magical journey might not be such a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Therese’s voyage takes her to the desolate shoreline of Toyland, where dwell the broken-down playthings of the Discardia. Wooden, metal, plastic or stuffed, they’re all looking for a queen to fix their bodies and their realm.

But these toys are broken in more ways than one.

As her family – led by her wild brother Dare – frantically searches for her, what will become of Therese when she discovers the terrible truth about Toyland? And what price must be paid to save her life – and her soul?

My Thoughts:
This was so good. It was both wonderful and horrible and probably one of the more complex and interesting books in the series. The prophecy about Snow White and Bigby Wolf’s seven cubs is starting to come true.

The first child will be a king.
The second child a pauper.
The third will do an evil thing.
The fourth will die to stop her.
The fifth will be a hero bold.
The sixth will judge the rest.
The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed.

This is a grim and disturbing tale. These are not comics for children. This is not the pretty Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

The final two issues in this volume are about Bigby Wolf’s early days. It filled in some very interesting history about him.

As usual the artwork by Mark Buckingham and others is wonderful. Part of the story is only told in images. The way the images coordinate with and expand on this story works incredibly well.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 0 comments

Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill WillinghamFairest Vol. 1: Wide Awaye by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with art by Phil Jiminez, Andy Lanning, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #1 in the Fairest series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 160
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-7 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Love’s labors lost and found

They call her Sleeping Beauty, but life’s always been ugly for Princess Briar Rose. Cursed at birth by a pissed-off fairy godmother, she wound up acting as a one-woman weapon of mass destruction against the Adversary in the last days of his war against the Free Fables. She won the day, but at the cost of sending herself into a permanent nap from which one true love’s kiss can awaken her. Few would have guessed that it would be Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves, who would rise to the challenge–or that he;d be accompanied by an obnoxious, not-quite-a-genie sidekick. But as Briar Rose’s true origin is revealed, can this no-longer-sleeping beauty and her Prince Charmless escape the cold fury of the Adversary’s former right-hand woman–the icily regal Snow Queen?

My Thoughts:

The Fables spinoffs can be hit or miss. I never really liked Jack of Fables but I loved Cinderella’s spy adventures. This one was just OK. I’ll be curious to see what the subsequent books are alike because Willingham has brought in other authors for some of those.  

This one had good parts and not so good parts. For a series about the women of Fables there was a whole lot of Ali Baba. I enjoyed the telling of Briar Rose’s story and the way that ended up conjuring the evil fairy who had cursed her. That led to a pretty great battle scene and some surprises.    

The final issue was a one shot featuring Beast investigating some killings in 1946 Hollywood. It was a noir detective story with yet another rather surprising twist.   

The art in this volume was wonderful. Phil Jiminez did an amazing job portraying a wide variety of settings and characters. Shawn McManus created a black and white detective movie for the one shot finale of this volume.   

 

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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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

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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

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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

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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

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