Archive for February, 2012

#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.

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#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.

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#CBR4 Cannonball 12: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker 1897 editionDracula by Bram Stoker 1897 edition by Bram Stoker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I imagine that, when it was first published, Dracula probably kept a lot of people up at night. The idea of the undead rising up as evil killers in the night must really have thrown people for a loop.

But I am not a Victorian socialite. I grew up watching horror films that my parents didn’t know I was watching. I startle easily, but I don’t scare easily. And I have to say that Dracula didn’t really do much for me.

If you’ve lived under a rock for the last hundred years or so, here’s the synopsis: Jonathan Harker, a young lawyer, is retained by the mysterious Count Dracula. While there, it becomes apparent that there’s something a little off about the Count, and things soon get dangerous. In the meantime, Harker’s fiancĂ©e, Mina Murray, is corresponding with her best friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy is proposed to by three men in the same day, and accepts one: Arthur. But, in the meantime, Lucy contracts a mysterious illness. Arthur calls in his friend and Lucy’s former suitor, Dr. John Seward, to cure her. Seward, unable to find the cause, calls in his colleague, Dr. Abraham van Helsing. It seems that van Helsing has some inkling of what’s plaguing Lucy, but is reluctant to say. We eventually find that Jonathan’s imprisonment and Lucy’s illness are connected.

dracula

I'm sure Bela Lugosi was a terrifying Dracula for his time.

Parts of it were quite quaint, actually. It’s almost laughable how Dr. van Helsing, the vampire expert, keeps everyone in the dark about the existence of vampires. Instead of telling Seward & Co., “I think Lucy’s being stalked by a vampire. Here, let’s keep some garlic in her room and see if she gets any better,” he simply brings in the garlic flowers and tells no one how important they are. Instead of telling Seward, “I think a vampire is coming and sucking her blood at night. We should sleep during the day and keep awake at night to protect her,” they keep falling asleep and Lucy keeps getting weaker.

But the fact is that none of us live in the late 19th century, and you just can’t go back. Unless you’ve lived a very sheltered life and scare very easily, Dracula probably won’t do much for you.

I guess it’s a groundbreaking work in the horror genre. But I’ll never forgive Bram Stoker for being the precursor to Twilight.

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