Posts Tagged ‘rose red’

#CBR4 Cannonball 17: Fables, Volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables CrossoverFables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was the last Fables volume available at my local library, and I wish it had been better.

This volume is a crossover of all three of the Fables comics: Fables (original flavor), Jack of Fables, and The Literals. If you haven’t read any of the Jack of Fables comics, and I didn’t, it’ll be a little jarring to be introduced to so many new characters all at once.

At the Farm, the Fables are trying to regroup and figure out what to do. Mister Dark’s presence in NYC is affecting them, causing people give in to the darker parts of their natures. For Bigby and Beast, this means a knock-down, drag-out brawl. For Rose Red, this means sinking into a deep depression.

When Jack Horner calls, claiming to know how to prevent the end of the Fables, Bigby and Snow take off to see how valid his claims are.

The volume was rather disjointed for me. There’s a lot of meta references, which get to be just a little too twee after a while.

At least the artwork’s back to being good again.

Hopefully, my local library will get Volume 14 in soon. And, hopefully, Volume 14 brings Fables back to its usual levels of ossomness.

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#CBR4 Cannonball 15: Fables, Volume 12: Dark Ages by Bill Willingham

Fables: Dark AgesFables: Dark Ages by Bill Willingham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dark Ages explored some interesting themes, but some of the artwork was just plain bad, and the skipping from artist to artist hurt my eyes.

This volume is mostly concerned with the aftermath of Fabletown’s war with the Empire. There was a lot of potential here to explore social and political themes, like what happens in a recently-freed land when the oppressor is gone and the people are left to fend for themselves. That was the direction I thought Willingham was going in initially, but, alas, I was mistaken. Instead, Willingham used it as an opportunity to introduce a new villain. I think that’s a missed opportunity, there.

Other than that, the action in this book is a little static. There’s a pretty significant tragedy in the book, but it feels a little bit manipulative and, in my opinion, doesn’t do much to push the book forward. Many of the other events are rather forgettable, although I’m sure Willingham will pick up those threads in the next volume.

It was still a decent read, but certainly my least favorite volume of the series so far.

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#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 10: Fables, Volume 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 8: WolvesFables, Vol. 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s been a lot of build-up for this volume. Mowgli’s hunting down Bigby, Fabletown is still strategizing for a war against the Adversary, and Snow White is raising six kids/cubs on the Farm.

It’s the will they/won’t they of the series, and we finally get answers. The tying off of that thread is beautifully and satisfyingly done, but Willingham’s a smarter writer than to just leave it there. He knows how to keep us on the line, even though we’ve already gotten the answer to the question we called in to ask in the first place.

In this case, he does so by introducing a new world to us: the Cloud Kingdom. It exists over all of the other kingdoms, which is interesting, considering that we’re already supposed to believe that there are thousands of other dimensions in existence. The Fables want a treaty with the Cloud Kingdom, but the Cloud Kingdom is hesitant to get involved, since the Adversary poses no immediate threat to them.

Wolves was a nice lift after Arabian Nights. I just hope that Willingham can keep the mojo going.

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#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.

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#CBR4 Cannonball 3: Fables, Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 2: Animal FarmFables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun one.

So, we learned in Vol. 1, Legends in Exile, that those Fables (fairy tale characters) who couldn’t pass as normal humans in New York City live on a farm in upstate New York.

Snow White and Rose Red travel upstate for Snow’s semi-annual visit, but they’re met with an unexpected rebellion: some of the Fables living on the farm felt that living in a prison for your own protection is a prison nonetheless.

Although some characters really only make cameos, it’s still fun to see so many fictional characters all jumbled together, rubbing elbows: Shere Khan and Baghera the Panther from The Jungle Book, the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe and all of her spawn (who are armed to the teeth, by the way), and Reynard the Fox from Aesop’s Fables are all living together with characters from classic fairy tales like the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Willingham’s handling of the animal uprising is a little predictable, but still fun. And at least he’s trying to inject some real-world themes into his work. We meet our first true villain of the series, and, incidentally, see our first true murder of the series as well. Because the tone of the novel is so fun, it was a little jarring to see such a serious and gruesomely portrayed incident. But it’s jarring in a good way; a stark reminder from Willingham that, while these stories are all in good fun, there’s a real world out there for which actions like these have dire consequences.

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume; it “read” like another solid episode of a TV show.

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#CBR4 Cannonball 2: Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in ExileFables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” is getting mixed reviews: some people like it, and others hate it, and some are willing to give it a chance because it’s being produced by two of the writers from “Lost.” It’s drawn some comparisons to Bill Willingham’s Fables, but the producers claim that they’re “telling a different story” with the show.

After having read the first volume of Fables, I wish that they’d decided to adapt this for TV instead.

In Willingham’s world, the former residents of the Homelands — better known as characters from popular fairy tales — have been forced into exile because an Adversary has taken over their lands. The Fables, as they call themselves, now live in New York City amongst the “mundies” (mundane people like you and me) in a secret community imaginatively dubbed “Fabletown.” Unlike the wide-eyed innocents of the fairy tales most of us grew up reading, the residents of Fabletown are hardened, jaded, and about as human as fairy folk can get.

In this series, Willingham perfectly blends fairy tales and noir, which I would never have thought possible. His characters have a certain bite to them that’s missing from the ABC show. “Once Upon a Time” is still essentially about the fight between good and evil. The line between the two is deliciously blurred in Willingham’s series. While it’s generally accepted that Adversary = BAD and Fables = GOOD, that doesn’t stop the Fables from bickering amongst each other.

fables

Snow White invites herself to become part of Bigby Wolf's investigation.

In the first volume, Legends in Exile, Willingham introduces us to the main characters. Snow White is the Deputy Mayor of Fabletown. While the Mayor, King Cole, is the figurehead, Snow’s the one who’s really running the show. She’s smart, tough, and determined. Bigby (short for “Big Bad”) Wolf is a reformed villain who now works as Fabletown’s sheriff. The two are forced to work together when Snow’s sister, Rose Red, goes missing. Bigby proves himself to be quite the detective, and the story moves at a solid pace while introducing us to various characters in the Fable world.

The story is smart and entertaining, a novel spin on the fairy tales of your childhood. The artwork is also pretty classic, which adds to the fun of the series. Legends in Exile read like an episode of a television crime procedural to me, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You know I loves me some “Law & Order.” If this volume is the graphic novel equivalent to a pilot episode, then I’m looking forward to the rest of the “series run,” so to speak.

On an unrelated note: I think I watch too much television.

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