Graphic Novel Review: Fables Continued

So I finally finished all the volumes of Fables that are available at my local library. The total number of volumes read being 12. Honestly, I wish I had stopped with vol. 11 which is the end of the first major story arc. Below volumes 7-9 are reviewed and in the near future I will review 10 and 11. I will not review 12 because it is the beginning of a new story arc, and one I am not sure I will finish. My life and my brain may be a mess of stories half-finished and universes partially understood, but I want to be a little more consistent on this blog.

I liked the first story arc in the graphic novels Fables by Bill Willingham and I’m glad I pushed myself to finish the first story arc in this series. I’m not usually a huge fan of fantasy, enjoying my science fiction worlds and being quite content, but this series is such a delight. Then I got to thinking, wait I do like fantasy, just not all fantasy and the only connection between them all is that there is some sort of modern twist to the fantasy. Either people start out in the modern world and get transported to an alternate fantastical universe or the modern universe is invaded by fantastical creatures or it lurks under the surface of the modern world. In Fables, the story book characters we all grew up reading about have come to settle in the United States far from The Adversary who took over their world and drove them out. It is a delightful collection of quirky characters and a well-developed plot. I definitely recommend giving it a whirl, even if you don’t particularly like to read graphic novels.

Vol. 7 Arabian Nights (and Days)

*slight spoilers*

Summary: The fables of the east and the west meet in this volume. Prince Charming has the dethroned former Mayor King Cole act as a diplomat between the two clashing cultures. King Cole restores peace and travels with the Arabian Fables to Fable Baghdad and helps them prepare for the invasion of the Adversary who is sure to turn his attention to the east now that he has conquered the other fable worlds. Also introduced are two spies from The Adversary living in the midst of Fabletown and how they went from anthropomorphic wooden puppets to real live people with real feelings. Gaining allies, the Fabletown fables prepare for war.


My Thoughts: I thought bringing in some new characters and other stories was quite a delightful way to expand the universe of Fabletown without loosing track of the main characters. King Cole’s chess playing and word plays with the ambassador for the East was pity, witty, and fun to read. I liked that Prince Charming steps up to the plate in the midst of loosing it all and realizes he needs help, a small bit of character development certainly, but fun to watch nonetheless. Beauty and Beast play a more important role in the story arc and their continued relationship through the ages is to be admired.

Vol. 8 Wolves

*slight spoilers*

Summary: When Snow White moved out to The Farm, Bigby left because he wanted to be with Snow White and their cubs (or monsters) and Snow White calls them, but Snow White didn’t see how that could work out. However, Prince Charming needs Bigby for a dangerous mission so he sends Mowgli, recently returned from spying abroad to track down Bigby uses his special senses and understanding of wolves. Mowgli succeeds and brings Bigby back for the dangerous mission, but Bigby still refuses to see Snow White believing that if he fails and ends up dead it was no good to see her and say good-bye again. This volume also includes a short story with Cinderella, who is still spying for the new Sheriff. She has to deal with the Cloud People, trying to gain them as allies for the upcoming war.

My Thoughts: Yay! Back to the Snow White and Bigby story, though in a round about way. I did enjoy tracking Bigby through the world with Mowgli and seeing Bigby return once again as a much-needed fable. The way that all the stories are converging as the fables gather strength and intelligence of the opposition while readying themselves for war is quite amazing. The use of many different old stories to create a fresh new look at the characters is one reason I enjoyed this series from beginning to end, and it is readily apparently in this volume.

Vol. 9 Sons of Empire

*slight spoilers*

Summary: In Sons of Empire we get a glimpse into the other side where a round table discussion has been set up between the powerful fable beings about how to conquer Fabletown and gain control over those fables. Geppetto makes an appearance, still no one realizes his real role. The Snow Queen sets up her domination, and Pinocchio explains how the machines of the Mundy world will make it impossible to out right conquer the new world of the Fabletown fables. Meanwhile Snow White and Bigby take the monsters to visit Bigby’s father, the Northern Wind. Bigby is not happy because Snow White pushed him into it, and indeed the monsters are placed in danger by Bigby’s father’s selfishness. Some of the shorts in this volume included little tidbits on Rapunzel, Santa, and a reporter who is tracking the strange nature of the Fabletown residences even though another reporter was killed for doing the same. Plus, a romance between Flycatcher and Red Riding Hood heats up.

My Thoughts: My second favorite volume of the series, I really really liked this one. The interplay between Bigby, Snow White, and Bigby’s father was so interesting. I really like reading Bigby’s back story even if I can’t hardly look at the way his mouth is drawn. Bigby is no underdog, he is a great big monster of a wolf and he doesn’t back down. He takes care of his family, and that is awesome. I also enjoy time in The Homeland watching the Snow Queen try to set up a way to invade Fabletown. Preparations for the war is heating up on both sides and with immortal storybook creatures involved, the clash of the war will be huge. I can see a story actually taking shape, arcing (which is apparently not a word?), and hopefully culminating in a great story. I’m very hopeful at this point that I may like graphic novels after all.


Graphic Novel Review: More Fables

I decided to plug away at the Fables series by Bill Willingham and Co., despite my well advertised dislike of graphic novels. I went to the library to see if there were more on the shelves, and discovered that there are two areas in my library that contain graphic novels. I go to an awesome library that has 9 or 10 floors and I usually only venture on to two. Eventually, I found the second graphic novel section, the Fables series, and pulled every single volume off the shelf. Laden with my goodies I hurried back to the office and stuffed 12 books into my drawers, locking them away from temptation, pulling them back out for the ride home.

I love this series. I love the characters, the story line, and I don’t hate reading graphic novels so much. It’s never going to be my *thing*, but I have learned how to speed read through the story and I enjoy my time in Fabletown. I am even contemplating another series after finishing this one. ::gasp:: I’m still not in love with how Bigby’s lips are drawn, but it doesn’t ruin the series for me.

Vol. 4. Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers

*slight spoilers*

Summary: In this volume soldiers from the Homelands arrive on a mission from The Adversary to conquer or destroy Fabletown. The troops rally, and in spite of being pregnant Snow White heads the defense of Fabletown until Bigby arrives from tracking down the gate that the wooden soldiers came through. Pinocchio discovers he has many brothers and believes his father is being used by The Adversary to send them to destroy Fabletown. Boy Blue recounts his adventures getting out of the Homeland and how he fell in love with Red Riding Hood.

My Thoughts: I really like Boy Blue’s story and his role in the Fabletown community. Fleshing out an entire background from a nursery rhyme,  is just delicious story telling. Snow White and Bigby continue to meander through life together, and I wonder what will happen between the two of them now that Snow White is pregnant. I also wonder whether her kids are going to look purely human or not. I have a sneaking suspicion that Geppetto is not being used by The Adversary, but that could be my cynical nature.

Vol. 5 Fables: The Mean Seasons

*slight spoilers*

Summary: Bigby and Snow Whites babies are born! And they are totally cute and only one of them looks human. Some of Bigby’s back story is explored, as told by one of his soldier buddies from one of the wars he was in. Prince Charming and King Cole run for Mayor of Fabletown and it is no surprise who wins. But this puts Snow White and Bigby out of a job, plus Snow White is forced to move to the farm because of her brood unable to fit into the Mundy world.

My Thoughts: No surprise that Prince Charming won the election, but I am curious to see how he messes up the government system Snow White and Bigby had in place. What does it mean now that Snow White is at the farm? Bigby isn’t allowed to be there and Rose Red is running the place. Snow White becomes maternal rather quickly and taking care of her flying brood of six can’t be easy. I love that Cinderella is more than a person with good looks, and that she is actually helping Fabletown and not just whining all the time. I’m a little annoyed that the Snow White and Bigby relationship seems to have been dropped for the time being. I don’t really want to follow Beast and Beauty around.

Vol. 6 Fables: Homelands

*slight spoilers*

Summary: Jack begins his adventures in Hollywood after leaving Fabletown. He build’s an empire making movies about his exploits until the new sheriff arrives to send him packing. But this volume was mainly about Boy Blues adventures when he re-enters the Homelands with the Witching Cloak. A man of valor is our Boy Blue and he takes on The Adversaries goblins and tax collectors. He is on his way to rescue the real Red Riding Hood when he is frozen by the Snow Queen and ends up in a cage in Geppetto’s cabin. Boy Blue extracts information from Geppetto and finally makes an escape taking the real Red Riding Hood back to Fabletown with him.

Boy Blue and Flycatcher Cosplay

My Thoughts: This is my favorite volume yet. I love the look at the Homelands. I loved following Boy Blue’s adventures, I almost started loving to read graphic novels, but don’t worry, I didn’t get that carried away. After reading volume six I don’t hate graphic noels anymore, which is a good thing. Also, I liked reading about Jack’s adventures in Hollywood and I totally see why there is a whole series on his stories alone. I may have to read them too. Yikes, another series of graphic novels I’m contemplating reading! What have you done to me Bill Willingham?!! I enjoyed that Boy Blue is extremely smart and courageous and clever. I wonder if Pinocchio staying in the Homelands is just a ruse. . . . we’ll see!

Graphic Novel Review: Fables Comic Book Series

After much insisting on the part of many parties and after reading this lovely article by Bill Willingham about Once Upon a Time, Fables, and retelling fairy tales,  I bit the bullet and decided to try reading another comic book series.

I hate reading comic books.

Every attempt in the past has failed as I eventually just give up on the soap opera that is the comic book industry. But I buckled down determined to enjoy this series about the retelling of fairy tales. I love retellings, I love fairy tales, and I quite enjoyed the story that Bill Willingham presents.

I still hate reading comic books.

I have my reasons. 1) I speed read 2) comic books are impossible to speed read and 3) comic books require taking time to look over the pictures and find hidden messages in the art. If I wanted to play Where is Waldo, I would buy that book instead. But because I absolutely loved Fables as far as story telling goes. It is well written, full of interesting characters, and has a well thought out universe. As a result, I’m setting aside my hate of comic books and will try to just review the story. Also, I’m addicted to Fables now and plan on reading the whole series, so that lets you know how good the series is. That I will read it despite the medium in which it is presented.

Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

Summary: Fairy tale characters have been exiled to New York where they live in a secret community run by Snow White. King Cole is the actual mayor of Fabletown, but he is just a head-figure and Snow White actually runs the day to day workings of the town. Rose Red, Snow White’s sister, is dead. Well, at least her apartment is trashed, blood is everywhere, and not one is telling Bigby Wolf (aka The Big Bad Wolf) the truth. Snow White hires Bigby as a detective/old western Sheriff to investigate her sisters disappearance or death as no body was found at the crime scene. Bigby begins to question the Fables in Fabletown and as a result Bill Willingham and Co. begin to build a story through the eyes of Bigby searching for Rose Red.

My Thoughts: Awesome universe, awesome reason they have been exiled to a more modern place. I love the interplay between Bigby and Snow White. I liked that not only was it a retelling of old stories but a murder mystery to boot. I liked Bill Willingham take on Prince Charming who often appears in different fairy tale stories. I quite enjoyed the set up of a fun, strange, and intriguing new universe full of wonderful and quirky characters. I had to wait a long time to get Vol. 2, and I was quite annoyed.

*Spoilers* Each tale builds on the one before and it is impossible to talk about Vol. 2 without giving away the ending of Vol. 1.  You have been warned.

Vol. 2: Animal Farm

Summary: Rose Red did not actually die in Vol. 1, but instead was running a scheme with Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk). They are punished to community service. Snow White takes Rose Red to the farm in upstate New York where the non-human or tiny Fables live out of sight of Mundys (Mundanes, as we pore regular non magical fairy folk are called). There is an uprising on the farm from the Fables who feel that it has become a prison. They try to take Snow White prisoner, but she escapes with the help of a wily fox. Meanwhile, it appears as the Rose Red has joined the ranks of the dissenters and takes up arms against Snow White.

My Thoughts: It is always fun to see how the other half live. In this particular tale the other half includes, lions, foxes, and bears- Oh My! I also had never thought about how a tortoise would try to fire a gun, so this story gave me food for thought. I enjoyed that the emotional and character chemistry this volume was between Snow White and Rose Red. I’m always down for a bit of sisterly fighting and working on issues. I think it just as important as any pseudo crime partnership/romantic exchange. I really like Snow White as a no-nonsense, extremely tough woman, who doesn’t just sit down and cry but works towards escaping from a bad situation on her own brain powers. You have my vote Snow White.

*Spoilers* Each tale builds on the one before and it is impossible to talk about Vol. 3 without giving away the ending of Vol. 2.  You have been warned.

Vol. 3: Storybook Love

Summary: Briar Rose has a problem, every time her finger is pricked she falls asleep and so does everyone else in the area. She can only be awaken with True Love’s kiss. Bigby Wolf has a problem, a Mundy has discovered the Fabletown community and threatens to expose them. While the Mundy thinks they are vampires, Bigby knows he needs to get rid of the problem so he enlists the help of Briar Rose. Meanwhile, Goldilocks who was one of the ring leaders in the revolution against Snow White and Fabletown on the Animal Farm, has gone missing. While the other ringleaders have met with a timely death, Goldilocks escaped. Bluebeard, the richest man in Fabletown, decides he can’t have Snow White and Bigby Wolf always in his inevitably shady business so he drugs them. They wake up in the woods with a killer after them.

Not Another Sexy Vampire
Screen Still from Interview with the Vampire

My Thoughts: This volume was a little more convoluted. It was full of a lot of, let me tell you the story behind this custom etc. Which while making for a fun quirky volume full of interesting tidbits and back story, makes it hard to review. Then there are the two main stories of the volume, which while sort of interconnected aren’t really reliant on each other. Some of the Briar Rose stuff felt extraneous, but it was still interesting. I like how Prince Charming pops up enough in this volume to show that he really does understand Snow White, he was married to her after all. And so we understand just a little more about what drives her.

Ok. So I am going to say one thing about the art. Where is Bigby’s mouth. Like in every panel he is pressing his lips together so they disappear? He walks around like that constantly? Is this supposed to mean something? Am I over thinking this? Most certainly. But this, this is why I don’t like reading comic books. While some of the artwork is only so-so, (seriously can Snow White wear something not from the early 90’s X-files page?) the cover art for the issue and the volume are quite lovely. However, can we just see Bibgy’s lips sometime? I mean how is Snow White supposed to eventually kiss him if he has no lips! Just saying.