Fables: Volume 12, The Dark Ages explores the post-war realities for our Fable heroes, as they are displaced from their Fabletown lodgings due to poweFables: Volume 12, The Dark Ages explores the post-war realities for our Fable heroes, as they are displaced from their Fabletown lodgings due to powerful, magical stirrings in the Homelands. A new adversary power is established, who could be potentially interesting despite his naff and decidedly un-sinister moniker of Mister Dark.
My dear Boy Blue loses his battle with his wound inflicted during the war, and any "OH THAT'S NOT FAIR! But Fables are pretty much immortal so he'll be back!" arguments I was building up were quickly dashed by Flycatcher's eloquent reasoning with Pinocchio. Flycatcher: "Yes, he was our friend. And he was good and heroic and all of those things you mentioned. So, why would we want to drag him back into this world of woes and heartbreak? One thing I've learned recently is that there are, in fact, other lives possible after this one, places of reward and rest. Don't you think he's earned a better life somewhere?"
(Although Blue will be very much missed, he was such an under-used character.)
Stinky the Badger shines again, especially in his dialogue with Frau Totenkinder, although he does look rather dashing in his little brown suit. He may have to be my replacement favourite character.
Michael Allred illustrates an issue again, and I really like his style but can't quite find the words to adequately describe it. I also enjoyed David Hahn's more cartoon-like illustrations in "Waiting for the Blues", which worked with the heavy emotional impact of that issue....more
Weetzie Bat is back, now a woman pushing forty who, while questioning her relationship with her Secret Agent Lover Man (now just plain old Max), takesWeetzie Bat is back, now a woman pushing forty who, while questioning her relationship with her Secret Agent Lover Man (now just plain old Max), takes some time to herself in a mysterious pink hotel filled with equally enchanting and mystical creatures. In Necklace of Kisses much of Block's trademark dreamy lyricism is absent, but an eye for strong mythological imagery, combined with pop cultural awareness and sensuous prose make it a valid addition to the Weetzie canon.
Yes, Weetzie is a woman entirely obsessed with her own wardrobe - to the point where the theft of a suitcase of clothes is situated as a major personal loss. Okay, maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it's the chance to revisit familiar (and much loved) characters, but I'm willing to forgive this superficiality here. The secondary characters, the inhabitants of the Pink Hotel, work as wonderful metaphors for Los Angeles but they're never quite fully explored; much of the focus is on Weetzie and I fear that she is probably the least interesting of the bunch.
Though I'm not entirely convinced that Block's magic realist style is as applicable to middle age as it is to adolescent dramas, Necklace of Kisses is a charming read for those already enamoured with Weetzie and her merry gang of gorgeous misfits....more
The characters from fairy tales and legends have been exiled to New York from their homeland by a brutal invasion, living together in a luxury apartmeThe characters from fairy tales and legends have been exiled to New York from their homeland by a brutal invasion, living together in a luxury apartment complex and attempting to keep their fable powers and nature secret from the mundane population of the city. Volume 1, Legends in Exile introduces us to recognizable characters, Snow White, Rose Red, The Big Bad Wolf, and so on, in different form: Snow White is the deputy mayor who keeps all the fables in line, Rose Red a wild party girl and The Big Bad Wolf, here Bigby Wolf, the grizzled gumshoe.
The main narrative is a standard whodunnit regarding the apparent death of Snow's sister Rose Red, where the main suspects are her ex-boyfriend Jack (of the Beanstalk fame), Bluebeard and maybe even Snow herself. This story is a good way to introduce us to these characters and some key rules to life in exile, but I really hope the rest of the series doesn't stick to such strict genre lines. Legends in Exile is fun, but hopefully later volumes live up to exploring the possibilities of such a re-imagined story world. Fables hasn't instantly captured my imagination like other acclaimed graphic novel series have, but there is some serious potential here. ...more
Karou is a 17 year old art student in Prague. Between classes, social activities and trying to hide out from a persistent ex-boyfriend, she runs erranKarou is a 17 year old art student in Prague. Between classes, social activities and trying to hide out from a persistent ex-boyfriend, she runs errands for her guardians in secret chambers hidden throughout the city, gathering material for dark magic that is connected to a place she knows only as Elsewhere. As she struggles to reconcile her identity between the two very different worlds, she meets the mysterious Akiva, who connects her to a history and a self that she never knew. Persevere through a slow, but engaging nonetheless, first half of Karou's life in Prague for an enchanting and original second half.
Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone features a richly drawn fantasy world, one of wishes, magic, angels and chimaerical beasts, with enough inventiveness to make it a unique stand out in a marketplace saturated with weakly told fallen angel romances. A strong mythological bent in the stories surrounding the history of the warring angels and chimaera, beautifully poetic and vibrant prose and truly startling imagery make Daughter of Smoke and Bone a fantastic read, even for those who may shy away from the paranormal romance genre....more
AMBROSE! In Fables, Volume 10: The Good Prince, the Frog Prince, a.k.a. Flycatcher, a.k.a. Ambrose, previously a background character, usually only usAMBROSE! In Fables, Volume 10: The Good Prince, the Frog Prince, a.k.a. Flycatcher, a.k.a. Ambrose, previously a background character, usually only used as a comic foil, is given a substantial narrative which builds not only his character but also advances the plot in a really satisfying way, suggesting that this episode will be integral to the foreshadowed Fables v. Adversary war.
When he is returned to human form after having transformed back into a frog, Ambrose is forced to relive the memory of his slaughtered family and vows to seek his vengeance. The details were kind of sketchy here, I'm not sure whether this is because our awareness is supposed to be built on the actual story of the Frog Prince told elsewhere? With the help of the ghost of Lancelot, Excalibur and a magical suit of armour, he establishes his own kingdom in the Homelands and uses his magic as a way to cut the enemy's numbers down and to create an alternative option to the two sides about to go to war. The plot does rely, as usual, on invincible magic powers, but Ambrose's personal transformation is captivating anyway.
Probably the strongest volume in the series since Volume 6: Homelands but I just can't bring myself to give it more that 3 stars....more
Okay, so I don't love the Fables series, but I was intrigued by the set up of Jack's spin off series, mainly as Jack has been established to be a bitOkay, so I don't love the Fables series, but I was intrigued by the set up of Jack's spin off series, mainly as Jack has been established to be a bit of an arrogant prick so he is significantly different from the do-gooders of Fabletown. Jack of Fables: Volume 1, The (Nearly) Great Escape is a fun start to the series. Jack's voice and attitude are still as obnoxious as ever, but somehow it comes across as endearing. He's not a particularly likable character, for sure, but that is one of the advantages of this spin-off series as that ambiguity of the lead characters is completely lacking in Fables.
Banished from Fabletown and having lost his stolen fortunes in Hollywood, Jack hits the road again, hitchhiking across America in search of ladies and loot. He is kidnapped by a group of librarians and taken to a Fable retirement village, a place which functions as a sort of prison for the lesser known fables. Here Jack meets some familiar Fable faces and hatches an escape plan. As Jack is the archetypal trickster, he gets up to a lot of mischief, but there's also a fair amount of humour in watching him fail and/or flail during his shenanigans. I love the artwork here too, Akins makes Jack look, well, ruggedly handsome in a way I didn't really expect. ...more
Jack of Fables is a hell of a lot more fun that the original series, Fables, that he started in. In Volume 2: Jack of Hearts, after escaping from theJack of Fables is a hell of a lot more fun that the original series, Fables, that he started in. In Volume 2: Jack of Hearts, after escaping from the Golden Boughs, Jack regales his fellow survivors with the story of how his affair with Lumi the Snow Queen led to him becoming the pesky Jack Frost. Jack later hightails it to Las Vegas where he gets married, comes into a fortune and, again, despite a meeting with Lady Luck herself, loses it all. But it's all told with such irreverence and spunky attitude that each volume of this series is a rollicking good way to spend the better part of an hour.
Maybe it is because Jack is so inherently unlikable that the writers feel free to subject him to violence (usually depicted in stomach churning detail by the artists), but it seems to be a running gag in this series so far - Jack is going to be maimed or gored in some horrifically visual way, and as we know he's capable of recovering quickly, there's never really any shock there, no risk of creating complete empathy with him. Jack's an asshole, without the brains necessary to pull off his trickster schemes so they're pretty much doomed from the start, but ... but it's just so damn fun watching him weasel his way through it. His convenient sidekick of choice, Gary, also known as the Pathetic Fallacy, is also hilarious in the way he counters Jack's arrogance and self-belief. There are some hints here toward a overarching narrative, but at this stage I'm willing to just roll with it. Jack's adventures alone are enough to keep me reading this series. ...more
Jack of Fables, Volume Three: The Bad Prince explores more of Jack's questionable past. On the run again, Jack and Gary find themselves kidnapped by PJack of Fables, Volume Three: The Bad Prince explores more of Jack's questionable past. On the run again, Jack and Gary find themselves kidnapped by Priscilla Page and thrown into the Grand Canyon. After being stabbed with Excalibur, Jack and the gang settle in for a round of campfire stories, this time Jack's connection with his doppelgänger, Wicked John.
What elevates Jack of Fables above the series from which it originated is the level of self-awareness and playfulness that it shows in regards to its characters and the nature of stories. Even though Jack and Wicked John's story is told in Willingham's characteristic pages and pages of expositional dialogue, there is an awareness of the weakness of this structure, expressed through the characters themselves. The revelation of the Literals - characters who embody particular literary tropes - also adds to this meta-understanding of storytelling, and I can't wait to see where it goes and how it is explored in relation to the wider Fable world.
Highlights of this volume include, as always, Gary the Wicked Fallacy sidekick, Jack's continual arrogance and the artwork. There are some one page scenes here that are just beautifully executed. Oh, and Babe the now shrunken cow's surreal nonsense stories throughout are hilariously weird....more