“Fables Volume 22: Farewell” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2015)

Fables 22 Farewell
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It’s been 13 long years, 22 trades, and 150 issues, but the end for the award-winning Fables is finally here. Usually, a final book or volume in a series needs to impress you and make you feel nostalgic for the whole story and make you want to start reading it all over again. Fables Vol. 22: Farewell does exactly this, and in fact would also serve as good “hooking” volume for new readers, as this trade gives a little insight into all the main characters and a large number of secondary and minor characters that makes you want to read the series from the beginning and get the complete story.

Fables began with some core characters, most notably Snow White, Bigby and Rose Red, and Willingham has skillfully steered the last couple of trades to come to a climax between Snow White and Rose Red, tied in with their family and history, which is how it should be. But because this is the last trade and the writer and artist know they have a lot to get through to wrap everything up, they take care of the main story fairly quickly and decently.

And then it is on to a succession “The last story of . . .” for many different characters readers and fans have come to know and love and hate and sometimes forget about over the 13 years of this great comic series. The main characters get all their endings of sorts, but because they are fables while it may not be an “and they lived happily ever after” situation, you know they’re at least satisfied with how things turned out for them and their own, at least for most of them, but so do all the small and seemingly insignificant fables readers have come to know, as well as having some interesting questions finally answered. Readers, whether they be new or veteran, will be delighted with this final chapter on Fables.

Originally written on August 28th, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Volume 22 Farewell from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Fables Volume 21: Happily Ever After” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2015)

Fables 21 Happily Ever After
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Things are coming to a head in this penultimate collected volume before the final showdown that will conclude the long-running, award-winning series. It is a case of good versus evil, as all great battles are, but the lines are severely blurred between who is good and who is evil.

Rose Red has been reborn as King Arthur, having formed the Knights of the Round Table at the Farm, though her prisoner is not as captive as she thinks. And now she must face her Morgan Le Fay, her villain, who turns out to be none other than Snow White, her sister, naturally. Readers get to see some important back story here with the sisters’ mother, who had her own large number of siblings and according to the way things were, these sisters had to kill each other to gain all the magic, and it is the story of Snow White’s and Rose Red’s mother who changed this.

Meanwhile, Bigby is sort of back. Having been turned to glass and then shattered, he was reassembled with a crucial piece still missing. A woman of immense power now possesses that glass shard and is able to control the big bad wolf, as he rampages around New York City, killing and eating like his fabled legend and being very unlike the kind, loving father we know him to be.

As the crescendo builds, Willingham – as he has done for the whole series – builds the tension and adventure and since this is the end, readers have no clue who is going to make it out alive, if anyone actually is.

Originally written on August 2nd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Volume 21: Happily Ever After from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Fables Volume 20: Camelot” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2014)

Fables Camelot
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To say that the comic book series penned by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Mark Buckingham has reached its twentieth collected volume is quite the astonishing feat, but when one considers that it has won fourteen Eisner awards, and is working its way through its second major storyline that continues to build and become more exiting with each volume, it’s not really a surprise at all.

After things continue to take a turn for the worse in the previous collected volume, Snow White, Camelot seeks to create a new hero to try to turn things around with Snow White’s sister, Rose Red. She takes on the role that she feels destined for, the Paladin of Hope, and what better way to do this than with a new Camelot and some brave Knights of the Round Table. One might also call them the Knights of Second Chances, as Rose Red is willing to wipe the slate clean if they prove themselves.

They travel from all the lands, creatures great and small, humans mighty and miniature, but only the bravest and true will succeed and be selected. Red even offers an old enemy a second chance, which sets her at odds against her sister. Snow White refuses to see her sister from now on, keeping what’s left of her family away from her also, feeling betrayal will inevitably come.

Meanwhile the witches and wizards of Fabletown are trying their darnedest to reassemble the glass shards of Bigby Wolf so he can be whole and alive once more. Side stories in Camelot include that of Bigby and Boy Blue in a sort of afterlife, as well as what Gepetto and Junebug are currently up to, and finally the Boy Blue Band go on an adventure into the Homelands.

For a special twentieth volume, Camelot is a nice long read, with a great main story that is ratcheting up the suspense with what is going to happen next, along with some great side stories. It shows that Willingham has so many stories to tell that the reader never knows what’s going to happen or who’s going to appear on the next page. Fables Volume 20 is a worthy addition to the collection that will be a delight to fans everywhere.

Originally written on November 18, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Volume 20: Camelot from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Fables Volume 19: Snow White” by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo, 2013)

Fables Volume 19 Snow White
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Things are heating up in the various worlds of the fables, and this is what keeps the award-winning comic book series so popular and fun to read: multiple storylines going on in different worlds at the same time; at some point the reader knows they’re probably going to cross paths, but for now he or she is just enjoying the ride.

With two cubs still missing, Bigby and Snow are worried beyond their wits and so it’s up to Bigby to head on out in Rose Red’s blood-fueled sports car along with the help of Stinky. He will not rest until he finds his children safe and sound. Meanwhile, as Snow tries not to panic and lose it, a surprising old friend comes into town, one who is supposedly her husband and begins taking control, imprisoning Snow against her will and looking to sets things back to the way they used to be. And in the distant land of fables, Bufkin and Lily also get up to adventures.

With the beautiful artwork of Mark Buckingham, volume 19 presents another enjoyable chapter in the Fables saga told with skill and designed in that unique Fables way with the ornate borders clueing in the reader to the storyline being dealt with, and whisking them away to the land of the imaginary.

Originally written on February 17, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Fables Volume 19: Snow White from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“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.

To purchase a copy of Fables: Cubs in Toyland from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“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.