“Fables, Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2013)

Fables: Cubs in Toyland
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The Fables are back again in a new collected volume and up to plenty of antics.  Willingham is still putting the pieces together for the next big saga of Fables and the blossoming full story isn’t clear yet, but readers are having a lot of fun along the way with the different subplots.  Snow White and Bigby wolf have always known that one of their cubs was destined for a great role, and its seems like it’s been filled when Winter begins training for the role of the North Wind, but each cub has a prophecy and some are fulfilled in this 18th volume, Cubs in Toyland.

Therese is an easily confused child, and when she finds herself a toy boat that talks to her, she is more than gullible.  The cub is led on a journey to a river, where the toy boat enlarges to a real-sized one.  She hops on and is taken across a great ocean through storm and sea until she reaches an island of broken and discarded toys, the misfits of toy society who all have voices and personalities.  They want little in life but to have a new queen to love them.  Therese thinks she might be this person, but soon discovers there is no food on the island, and begins to starve, while the incessant toys turn her into a dark and twisted person as time passes.

Darien is the leader of the pack and has always known he is the hero and must do everything he can, no matter what he takes.  He follows the clues about his missing sister and crosses the great ocean to find this distant land of mutated toys and knows what he must do to save his sister.

Cubs in Toyland is a great stand-alone story of the Fables universe, exploring some of the roles that the cubs of Snow and Bigby are destined to fulfill, pushing and pulling on the emotions of the reader, as they are ultimately just children, even if they are fables.  Included in the collection is the story of Bufkin in the Land of Oz, illustrated by Shaw McManus.

Originally written on February 11, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Fairest, Volume 1: Wide Awake” by Bill Willingham and Phil Jimenez (Vertigo, 2012)

Fairest: Wide Awake
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The great thing about the popular Fables series is that it seems to be a never ending well of new and future characters, along with fascinating untold stories.  Fairest: Wide Awake is the first volume in a new spinoff series of Fables, as creator and head writer Bill Willingham takes on the stories of the fabled princesses and what they like to get up to in their spare time.

Wide Awake focuses on the story of Princess Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, who we last left being kidnapped by the goblin army in Fables: Super Team.  After playing an important part against the Adversary in the last day of the war, Briar Rose sacrificed herself with her special power putting herself and many others into a long sleep.  And now she awaits a true love’s kiss to awaken her.

Turns out this hard-fast rule has some wiggle room, as Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves, discovers when he is put up to a job that will bring him untold riches by a small and suspicious genie.  But when Ali Baba makes it to Briar Rose after subduing all the goblins, he finds himself with a new puzzle: Briar Rose lies there in her sleep, along with the Snow Queen.  They are both beautiful women and he feels love for both of them; unsure what to do he kisses and awakens them both, which was the wrong thing to do.

With Briar Rose awake once more, her true origin is revealed, as well as alerting her greatest enemy, while the Snow Queen isn’t happy about her predicament and plans on regaining her powers and her great ice palace and killing everyone in its wake.  Meanwhile, Ali Baba is wrestling with which woman he truly has feelings for, which is now helped by the impish genie who keeps giving him bad advice.

Wide Awake is a fairly weak introduction to a new series, as the plot didn’t feel as complex and gripping as some of the other Fables storylines.  Nevertheless, it is great to read about all these strong female characters playing main stage, while the only real guy in this, Ali Baba, keeps more to the background.  Willingham has said that he plans to bring in other writers to continue this new tangent of the Fables world known as Fairest.

Originally written on January 7, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fairest: Wide Awake from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland” by Bill Willingham, Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern (Vertigo, 2012)

Fables Werewolves of the Heartland
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Fables is back once again with its next installment, this time with a standalone graphic novel that has been rumored about for some time, in Werewolves of the Heartland.  Taking a little break from the goings on of Fabletown, The Farm, and the other worlds, we focus on Bigby traveling through America’s heartland.

Bigby Wolf is on a big new mission: to find a new town, a new place to house all the fables in the mundy world, because after everything that’s happened with Fabletown, they can’t stay there much longer.  Traveling through the great state of Iowa, he finds a small quaint place called Story City, what better name for a potential future home for all the fables?  But Bigby detects strange scents on the air, some that are familiar, and others that just don’t seem right.  Cautiously, he ventures into Story City.

The first thing Bigby notices about this town is that all of its inhabitants are werewolves, and what’s more they all seem to know who he is, as well as about his great legacy.  But then he is suddenly imprisoned, and begins to learn that not all are fans of him; some want his hide; some want him dead so that they can gain his powers.  What none of them seem to realize is that Bigby is also the seventh son of the North Wind, and possesses powers they can only imagine.

Werewolves of the Heartland shows Willingham at his best, as he draws you in with interest, and then blows the plot wide open with back story that goes deep into the past when Bigby was fighting in World War II and revealing his forced part in a terrifying Nazi experiment that has now led to the werewolves of Story City.  Readers and fans will not be disappointed.

Originally written on January 7, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Fables, Volume 17: Inherit the Wind” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2012)

Fables Inherit the Windstarstarstarstar

A new storyline continues in the unique world of Fables, as we focus on our main story at hand: that of Bigby and his family.  The great North Wind was the one to finally slay the seemingly indestructible Mr. Dark, but has paid the ultimate penalty in losing his life.  Now a successor must be chosen to take the throne, and Bigby has renounced all intentions of this, so it will be up to one of his and Snow’s cubs to take the mantle.  The question is which one?  The parents get to watch as their children are subjected to a series of trials and tests by the North Wind’s servants, while the East, West and South winds hungrily watch, looking to seize this power vacuum.

Meanwhile, things continue along in the rest of the world, as Rose Red continues cleaning up and making sure everything is right on the Farm; the monkey Bufkin continues his attack against the new ruler of the Pan Ozian Empire; and deep in the shadows of Castle Dark, Nurse Spratt prepares herself for revenge, awaiting her first victim.

Inherit the Wind continues a number of Fables storylines, keeping readers riveted as to what is happening with some of their favorite characters.  Along with some secondary storylines, it makes for another great collection of entertaining plot and beautiful artwork.

Originally written on October 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables: Inherit the Wind from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Fables Dark Ages  Fables Crossover  Fables Witches  Fables Rose Red  Fables Superteam

“A Flight of Angels” illustrated by Rebecca Guay and written by Bill Willingham, et. al. (Vertigo, 2011)

A Flight of Angels
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Every once in a while a graphic novel comes along that steals the show on whatever it’s competing with on the shelf or display or endcap; A Flight of Angels is one of those books.  The cover catches the eye with its color, complexity and style, right away piquing one’s interest, and then known names like Bill Willingham and Holly Black force the curious reader to pick it up and start reading.

Talented artist Rebecca Guay is known for illustrating fantasy and children’s books, including stories by the likes of Ursula K. LeGuin, Bruce Coville and Jane Yolen; and most recently The Last Dragon graphic novel with Jane Yolen.  Guay conceived and illustrates A Flight of Angels which explores the fantasy concept of angels and how they’ve interacted with humanity.  In the framing story, written by Holly Black, a number of fairy characters find the body of an angel who has yet to return to consciousness, and they mull over whether to let him live or die.  It’s a great setup for some great storytelling, as each character tells a tale they have learned about angels, and whether they are to be feared or respected.  A Flight of Angels features stories penned by the likes of Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Louise Hawes, and Todd Mitchell.

What is most surprising and mesmerizing about this book is that even though it’s illustrated by one artist, each story feels like it is done by its own unique artist, with its own special distinctive style.  The stories are compelling, and overall the book has a feel of a moving fairytale fantasy, akin to Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel works in faerie.  It is a delight to read and enjoy, and will be appreciated by anyone caught up by its distinctive cover.

Originally written on January 1, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Fables Volume 16: Super Team” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Eric Shanower and Terry Moore (Vertigo, 2011)

Fables Super Team
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This new volume in the award-winning and fabulous Fables series features the familiar, amazing artists Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, and some well known guest artists with Eric Shanower and Terry Moore.  Shanower pencils an interesting introductory tale from fableland, while Terry Moore does the art of the moving final tale of “Waking Beauty.”

At the heart of the volume is the story of the “super team.”  Mr. Dark has Fabletown bowing to his whim, wreaking his evil and darkness, and must be stopped at all costs.  He is now growing his dominance in the land of fable, blocked by a protective force field by Flycatcher.  They’re going to need a crack team of really strong fables, the F-Men, to stop this Mr. Dark.  They’re going to need the likes of Werewolf Man, and The Golden Knight, and maybe the Green Witch.  They’ll need training and simulations to be ready, but ultimately someone much stronger will be needed to take down this master of darkness and fear.

Super Team does what every volume since the start has done: furthered the compelling story, as well as introducing new material and new fables, to keep the readers hooked.  The fresh art styles of Shanower and Moore add to the magic, making this volume a requirement for any fan.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Super Team from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Fables Volume 15: Rose Red” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2011)

Rose Red
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With the war done and over, the next chapter in the incredible saga of Fables kicks it into high gear under the skilled pen of Bill Willingham and artistic pencil and color of Mark Buckingham as Mr. Dark is finally confronted and a character that has been hiding from the world for some time returns.

Rose Red has shut herself away from everything since Boy Blue died, unable to face her job and role as the one in charge of The Farm.  But now things are going downhill fast, and dissension is growing and getting out control at The Farm, as the natives are getting restless and plots are being hatched and it seems like a coup may be in the works.  With continued visits and visitations from the decapitated pig, Rose Red also receives a visit from her mother and is finally pulled out of whatever dark place that she’s been in, pulls herself together, cleans herself up and addresses everything that’s going on at the farm.  At the same time, readers get to see the story of Rose Red’s and Snow White’s childhood, the good times and bad together, and of course those infamous seven dwarfs.

Meanwhile back at Fabletown, Mr. Dark has his minions and is becoming scarily powerful.  The Fables mount their first attack with magic and witchery from Totenkinder, destroying his zombie followers and finally stopping this creature of nightmare and fear.  Celebrations over this defeat are short lived however, as Mr. Dark breaks free of his supposedly unbreakable bonds and seems little the worse for wear.

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Originally written on April 10, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.