BooksOfTheMoon

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Five

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

The major arc in this volume of the always marvellous Fables series describes Boy Blue’s return to the Homelands on a secret mission. And in the process, he retrieves huge amounts of intelligence, and finally uncovers the identity of the Adversary. Despite hints in previous volumes, I must confess that it took me by surprise, but it totally works (and his description of his rise to power is chilling). And Boy Blue is pretty awesome as a lone hero, cutting a swathe through the Empire on his mission.

Back in Fabletown, we see a delegation of Arabian fables arrive in embassy, and how the European ones struggle to deal with them, as well as seeing just how well, or badly, Prince Charming is dealing with being mayor. Some other old favourites get screen time too (including a surprisingly awesome role for King Cole, who’s been a bit of a comedy side character until now), and there are some surprises in store for others. Snow and her boys appear, but in a side capacity, just driving the plot forward.

Oh, and there’s also the preparation for the spinoff Jack of Fables series, which actually starts the book. I must confess that Jack has never really done an awful lot for me. He’s arrogant, lazy and a bit of a grifter. His escapades in Hollywood were mildly amusing, but I don’t really have any interest in seeking out the spinoff.

So, apart from Jack, another complete success. The whole ‘Adversary’ plot is picking up pace and after five volumes, I’m pretty invested in the major characters. I look forward to the next one now.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401234966
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2012

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Four

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

The fourth deluxe volume of Fables starts with a story arc involving Bigby Wolf during the Second World War, which is a nice war story, and reinforces what we already know about Bigby, that he’s loyal, a bit soft and hard as nails. Next we have a four issue arc about Snow White and Bigby’s babies, with one of them being very different to the others. This sees Snow have to leave Fabletown for the Farm (since most of the babies can’t pass for human) but Bigby is banned from the Farm, so chooses to go into exile. We also see Prince Charming have to face the realities of power, and Beauty and the Beast also deal with the roles they’ve taken over from Snow and Bigby respectively. I’m slightly confused when the North Wind shows up and nobody seems to be particularly surprised or confused as to how he got into the mundane world, given that all the gates to the Homelands are supposed to be shut.

The second half of the volume is taken up with 1001 Nights of Snowfall, a prequel story where Snow ventures to the Arabian fables to try and build an alliance, but ends up having to tell stories to the sultan every night for her life. There are a number of guest artists here, including Charles Vess (who illustrates the prose framing story) and although they each have differing art styles, most of them have a soft edge to it, appropriate to stories within stories. The stories that Snow tells are all of the Homelands, generally during the invasion by the Adversary, and we learn more about King Cole, Bigby, Snow herself and others in the process.

I’m still loving this series. We’re drip-fed details about the past and the Adversary, but it’s the characters who make it. The tragic history of Flycatcher, the ongoing tension between Snow and Bigby, the smarm and machinations of Prince Charming. These are all characters that have become fleshed out over the last four volumes, and I look forward to spending more time with them all.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401233907
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2012

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Three

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

This third volume starts with a short story, Cinderella Libertine, which shows us what Prince Charming’s third wife gets up to when she’s not running a shoe shop. This story had guest a artist, rather than the more usual Mark Buckingham and it’s a nice little story involving the usual trifecta of sex, money and power.

After this, Buckingham returns and we get on to the main body of the volume: a seven-issue story called March of the Wooden Soldiers, in which a fable thought long lost comes as a refugee to Fabletown, but maybe not everything is as it appears. This is a strong story, giving us a little more knowledge of the Adversary and his methods. The Pinocchio soldiers that represent him are great fun as well, with their attempts to pass for human and their disdain of food. Despite this, they’re still very creepy and the fact that they’re practically unstoppable makes them terrifying foes in their own right.

I’m starting to very much appreciate and enjoy Buckingham’s art – you know ‘proper’ Fables is back when it’s his art again, and Willingham’s story continues to enthral. I look forward to reading more of this in future.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401230975
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2011

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Two

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

The second deluxe edition of the Fables series collects a few short stories in the series as well as a longer story dealing with Bluebeard and his attempts to get rid of Snow and Wolf. We start with Bag o’Bones, a story about Jack, set during the American civil war. It’s a fun piece showing off Jack in full trickster and shyster mode as he deserts from the Confederate army. From there, we return to the series ‘present’ as a journalist attempts to blackmail the Fables and the caper they get up to to deal with it. Storybook Love is the longest piece in the book, with Bluebeard hatching a plot to get rid of both Snow White and Bigby Wolf, involving the somewhat mental Goldilocks, while Prince Charming starts working his way back into Fabletown life, and who has an agenda of his own. Barleycorn Brides is a lighter story in which Bigby tells Flycatcher the story of Smalltown up at the farm and the coming of age ritual of many of the young men from there. The last graphic story in the collection is The Last Castle, in which Boy Blue tells Snow about the last stand against the Adversary and the battle that he witnessed, that gave the last ship out its final chance to escape. The collection ends with a prose story, A Wolf in the Fold, in which we learn a bit more about the Wolf.

There’s a lot to enjoy here. I liked getting to know some of the characters better, and the slowly developing relationship between Snow and Bigby, with the various twists and turns it takes. The Last Castle was a moving piece, shedding more light on the character of Boy Blue and making really curious about the Adversary. I hope we’ll see more of that in future volumes (and possibly even an attempt to fight back at some point?).

I don’t think it was quite as strong as the first volume, but there’s still more than enough of interest to make it worthwhile as part of the Fables series. I look forward to continuing my journey with these fabulous (in all senses of the word) characters.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401228798
Publisher: Vertigo
Year of publication: 2010

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book One (Fables: The Deluxe Edition, #1)

By Bill Willingham

Rating: 4 stars

With the homelands invaded by The Adversary, the characters of myth, legend and, yes, fable, flee their worlds for ours, and establish a hidden colony in New York, where they preserve their culture, their society and their magic, hidden in plain sight amongst the normal people of the world. With a reformed Big Bad Wolf as their sheriff and Snow White as the deputy mayor, this first deluxe volume introduces us to these characters and their world.

This volume collects the first two story arcs, the first covering the disappearance, in violent circumstances, of Rose Red and the subsequent investigation; and the second covers the goings on at the place where all the Fables who can’t pass as human live: the Farm, in up-state New York. There’s a reason that arc is called Animal Farm. The nods to Orwell’s story are all too plain.

We’re only just getting to meet the main cast of Fables here, but I’m already intrigued. Snow White is hard and very capable as an administrator and politician; Prince Charming is feckless and mostly just seeks pleasure; the Wolf is possibly the most intriguing of the characters so far. Although we follow him throughout the first arc, we see little of his personality. He seems reformed from the Big Bad Wolf of yore but whether he truly seeks redemption or whether he’s just being practical in the confined spaces of the Fables’ community remains to be seen (and I look forward to having more of his personality teased out in future). One thing that does come across is that he has an awful lot of fun when he gets to do a real, honest-to-god parlour room scene.

The art is very pretty, and the covers of each issue, interspersed throughout are especially gorgeous, having a dreamlike quality that befits the subject matter. There’s a lot to like about this volume and I look forward to reading more, finding out about the Fables, their lives and history and about the Adversary who drove them out of their own lands.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401224271
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Year of publication: 2009

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