Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

#CBR4 Cannonball 14: Fables, Volume 11: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 11: War and PiecesFables, Vol. 11: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is it. The Fables have gone to war with the Empire.

I was a little conflicted about this volume; it’s a fun read, sure, but I was a little disappointed that, after ten volumes of build-up, the war was finished in a single volume. That didn’t seem like enough, and it seemed like a bit of an abrupt resolution to the main issue of the series so far.

The tale is told well, however, and it’s lots of fun watching the action unfold, and seeing the Fables’ strategies playing out. As in any war story, there’s heroism and tragedy. There are battles and plenty of action. There are victories and defeats.

But it did feel rather condensed. I guess, though, if the war wasn’t a long one, there’s no reason to drag it out for the likes of me.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 13: Fables, Volume 10: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 10: The Good PrinceFables, Vol. 10: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, oh, boy, was this a good one. When it comes to straight-up action/adventure, I have to give this volume top props.

In Sons of Empire, we learned that Ambrose, also known as Flycatcher, better known to us mundys as the Frog Prince, was destined for an important future. The Good Prince tells the tale of Ambrose’s realization of his fate.

We take a trip down the Witching Well, and are reunited with characters that we thought were dead and gone from as far back as Volume 2, Animal Farm. The scope of the series has grown broader and more epic with each passing volume, and bringing back old characters from the dead is a great way to subtly point that out.

With the help of the Forsworn Knight, who turns out to be Lancelot of Arthurian legend, Ambrose returns to his homelands and establishes a new kingdom: Haven. He means for Haven to be just that: a place where people running from the oppression of the Empire can find sanctuary and solace. But the Empire isn’t going to just let them be. There’s action in the forecast, folks.

Willingham did such a good job of introducing us to Flycatcher early on in the series and painting him out to be little more than comic relief. But he then took the character and made him an unlikely hero, and did it in such a way that it was a complete and refreshing surprise.

It’s also still clear that, regardless of what happens between Haven and the Empire, Fabletown will have to fight its own fight against the Empire. And preparations are being made for just that.

This volume moves the action along at a great pace, and it’s my favorite of the series so far.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 9: Fables, Volume 7: Arabian Nights by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 7: Arabian Nights (and Days)Fables, Vol. 7: Arabian Nights by Bill Willingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth. I would say that, sometimes, it’s too many ingredients that spoil it.

Arabian Nights fell a little flat for me. I was excited when Willingham started including characters from the Arabian Nights world. But the storyline involving them wasn’t all that captivating. Also, one of the characters kept calling Sinbad, supposedly the head of this royal retinue, “sirrah.” I gathered that he meant it as a term of honor, but I couldn’t get over the fact that, in English, it has a negative connotation. If what they’re saying in Arabic is going to be translated into English, then shouldn’t that term be translated, too?

The one thing I will say is that Frau Totenkinder is pretty ossom. She’s the wicked witch of “Hansel and Gretl” fame. Her name is German for “dead children,” and she’s ossomly creepy, and Willingham uses her well.

There was a vaguely interesting secondary plotline involving a wooden soldier from the Adversary’s armies. Rodney, a wooden soldier, falls in love with June, a wooden “medic” — she repairs damaged wooden soldiers’ limbs. Together, they travel to find Geppetto and ask him to turn them into flesh so that they can marry and raise children. It’s a sweet, little love story, and a reminder that the soldiers in the enemy’s army are people, too, with cares and lives disturbingly similar to ours.

It’s a nice aside, but I still hope that the next volume gets back to top form again.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 8: Fables, Volume 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 6: HomelandsFables, Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume of Fables revolves mostly around Boy Blue. Unlike in the nursery rhyme, he’s actually a fierce warrior in addition to being a talented bugler.

His mission is to return to the Homelands, which have been taken over by the mysterious Adversary, and to rescue Red Riding Hood, the woman he loves, or die trying.

There’s plenty of adventure and subterfuge involved. Blue has stolen the Witching Cloak, a magical cloak that can teleport you to different places and hide items until you need them, and the Vorpal Sword, of “Jabberwocky” fame, which can vanquish any foe. He goes riding through the Homeland until he finds and confronts the Adversary.

We also get a short tangent about the life of Jack Horner, the “Jack” of all the fairytales and nursery rhymes. After the Battle of Fabletown, he steals a bunch of treasure from the Fabletown coffers, moves to Hollywood, and starts a production company (“Nimble Pictures”), which he uses to make a movie trilogy about “Jack.” The second movie, interestingly enough, is called Jack the Giant Killer. So, did I miss the first movie or what?

This volume is full of twists and turns, from the Adversary’s identity to Blue’s reunion with Red Riding to the truth about Blue’s quest into the Homelands. This series is going strong.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 7: Fables, Volume 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean SeasonsFables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mean Seasons is a solid follow-up to The March of the Wooden Soldiers. After the Battle of Fabletown, we get a nice expositional episode that ties up a few loose ends: Snow White gives birth, there’s a regime change in Fabletown politics, and we get to see behind the scenes into Bigby’s operations as Sheriff of Fabletown.

We also get treated to a scene from the past, from Bigby’s time serving in World War II.

And some new threads are also introduced: there’s a serial killer on the loose in Fabletown, we meet Bigby’s father: the North Wind, and Fabletown comes to the cusp of war with the Adversary.

There’s a lot of good exposition in this volume, and I appreciated the character development. Willingham continues to introduce plenty of new characters into the story, but doesn’t do so at the cost of putting any of the original starring cast on the backburner.

All in all, it’s a solid volume, and it made me eager to read the next one.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 5: Fables, Volume 4: The March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 4: March of the Wooden SoldiersFables, Vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m glad that Bill Willingham thought to follow up the somewhat weaker Storybook Love with some good, old-fashioned war. It’s a smart move that gets us all back on the bandwagon of Fables = GOOD, Adversary = BAD.

We start with a seemingly unrelated tale: Little Boy Blue, who served as an aide de camp to the Fable general who led the last stand to protect the last gateway to the mundy world from the Fablelands, tells the sad tale of the fall of that army. In the process, he met and had a night of passion with Red Riding Hood (more nudity. It’s unfortunate, since it kind of tainted this volume for me). They were in love, but, thanks to a misunderstanding, she was left behind, while Blue made it out.

Aside: whenever I think of Little Boy Blue, I can’t help but to think of Michael Emerson:

Some of the art in the beginning of this volume is a little off. Hmm, never thought I’d have much of an opinion about that.

Anyway, so, Snow White is coping with her pregnancy as best she can when she has a dream in which she’s visited by the head of Colin Pig (who was murdered in Animal Farm), who warns her that great danger is coming. This dream puts her on edge.

In the meantime, the rest of Fabletown is dealing with the upcoming mayoral election, which will, for the first time in Fabletown’s history, have a candidate to vote for besides the incumbent, King Cole: Prince Charming.

But before the election can really get off the ground, Fabletown is faced with an unstoppable army that threatens not only to wipe out the citizens of Fabletown, but also threatens to out them to the mundys in the area. Reinforcements are called in from the upstate Farm, but Snow is worried that, without Bigby, who’s gone off to look into a troubling matter to the north, Fabletown won’t be able to hold its ground.

It’s all kinds of fun to see Fabletown gearing up for a battle royale, and to see some of the Adversary’s forces close-up for the first time. The battle itself is pretty epic, and there’s a good enough twist at the end to definitely make you want to pick up Volume 5.

Another solid “episode” of this series.

View all my reviews

#CBR4 Cannonball 4: Fables, Volume 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook LoveFables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Storybook Love; I did. But, as ridiculous as this sounds, I did think that you had to… ahem… suspend your disbelief a little more with this one than you did in the first two volumes of this series.

The volume starts off pretty fun, with a glimpse into Jack Horner’s adventures during the Civil War. It’s funny and pretty charming; he cheats both the Devil and Death in this segment (nudity warning here. Jack be a player). It’s just an aside, so it doesn’t have much bearing on the main story of the volume.

The main storyline comes in two parts. The first is about a mundy reporter who documents the existence of the Fable community. The only thing is, he thinks they’re vampires. Bigby gets a crew together to neutralize the mundy and, in the process, makes an enemy of Bluebeard.

The second part results from Blackbeard’s beef with Bigby, and he enchants Bigby and Snow White and sends them into the Cascade Mountains to be assassinated by Goldilocks, who’s on the lam for her part in the insurrection we saw in Animal Farm. She’s been shacking up with Bluebeard, and he sends her to take down Bigby and Snow.

We see some romantic tensions slowly building between Bigby and Snow, which take a shocking turn at the end of the volume.

bigby wolf and snow white

Bigby in wolf form with Snow. I want to pet him.

While it was still a fun read, there were a lot of little details that seemed a little sloppy to me. For example, Prince Charming begins spying on Bluebeard and discovers that he’s plotting to kill Bigby and Snow. How did he decide to start spying on Bluebeard? How would he communicate with the Mounted Police (Lilliputians riding on Fable mice) to put them on the case? What authority does he even have to put them on the case?

And the whole thing of Bluebeard enchanting Bigby and Snow to get them out camping in the Cascades seemed just a bit lazy to me. I mean, I know you’ve gotta throw them into some crazy adventure to bring them closer together, but, come on.

I can’t believe I’m essentially saying that this story about fairy tale characters living in New York City was a little too unbelievable for me.

But it’s still a fun read, and the characters still hold steady, even if some of the plotlines are a little shaky.

View all my reviews

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers