If you are not up on the Fables storyline, this is a fairly good place to enter. Though it brushes over years of history in wide strokes, the tale isIf you are not up on the Fables storyline, this is a fairly good place to enter. Though it brushes over years of history in wide strokes, the tale is about Cinderella, an undercover spy keeping a lid on rogue Fables who use their powers too openly in our mundane world that the NYC fables hope to keep mundane. Our earth is their haven, a place they can hide from their own powerful magical enemies, and Fable refugees showing a hand to openly here can cause the minions of the Emperor to come looking (a theme explored with great result in the original "Fables" series).
When Fables cross from their worlds to ours, they tend to enter our consciousness, and we--the mundies who were born here--remember them as fairy tales, myths and fables. We even write about them. The more we honor them, the more powerful they are. Thus Cinderella is a hard to kill, never getting older, Fable. Her story is very well known. Is she the Cinderella of the famed story, well, she was--once. Now she is a well-trained agent, a James Bond of the Fable forces.
This standalone graphic novel uses flash back and juxtaposition to explain her multi-decade long run in with her greatest nemesis, an assassin for hire, a very angry Fable with a huge chip on her shoulder, Dorothy Gale. That's right, the same of all those "Wizard of Oz" books.
But, the Dorothy of today is not the sweet little girl of the books. She dumped her three non-human friends, seeks her own fortune, and loves to kill. Why? Hey, I don't want to spoil the book for you. Needless to say, she is a pretty powerful Fable herself. The two tangle in a battle to see which girl reigns supreme, and the authors take advantage with typical girl-on-girl battle action, the lead in fight that starts the rivalry (it is a pretty funny set up) taking place in the Soviet Union, in the middle of winter, with both dressed in swimwear. Say hi to the fan boys girls.
For the most part, the story is pretty clever. The Dorothy Gale references are to the books, not the movie, so only the truest of Oz fans will connect the silver slipper reference before it is explained. Though we may not tap into all the reasons Dorothy is so full of venom and hate, other than a need to prove she is the very best between her and Cinderella, the authors keep her focus so needle point angry that it works within its own limited logic.
Title Cinderella: Fables are Forever (Fabletown) Author Chris Roberson Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
"Box 13" is re-imagined (rather than a straight adaptation or continuation) as a comic book series. Originally commissioned by ComiXology and released"Box 13" is re-imagined (rather than a straight adaptation or continuation) as a comic book series. Originally commissioned by ComiXology and released exclusively on the iPhone, the series was created from start-to-finish with print-ready layouts.
Title Box 13 Author David Gallaher Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Mr. Dark had sown waste to Fabletown and had driven the Fables out of Manhattan. Recently, Frau Totenkinder had failed to properly contain Mr. Dark, wMr. Dark had sown waste to Fabletown and had driven the Fables out of Manhattan. Recently, Frau Totenkinder had failed to properly contain Mr. Dark, who escaped his confines, forcing the Fables to flee the Farm in upstate New York and seek refuge in the kingdom of Haven. There's nowhere else to go after this, should Haven fall. And here's Mr. Dark now, very close to ripping thru the mystic barrier that keeps him from stepping over into Haven. Day by day Flycatcher's magic is failing him.
With Frau Totenkinder officially retired (fully deserving of her happy ending), Ozma has assumed leadership of the spooky witches what used to dwell on the 13th floor of Fabletown's Woodlands Hotel. Ozma means to assemble a strike force - composed of the fiercest and most fearless in the Fables community - to take on the malevolent Mr. Dark, except that Pinnochio suggests a loopy embellishment: Why not form a superhero team?
Pinnochio, an avid comic book fan (which started back in the early volumes of "Fables" where he, Boy Blue & Flycatcher would visit the comic book store), persuades Ozma that--in the interest of "every little bit helps"--it may be worth harnessing the faith and belief generated by a population of Mundy comic book fans. And as you know, belief is what sustains the Fables, the Mundy's belief in fairy tales and folk stories and nursery rhymes and such. Pinnochio himself has fully committed to his cape & cowl persona, having parked his butt in a wheelchair, noting that a lot of super team chiefs seem to be handicapped so. It's fun watching Pinnochio do his damnest to ensure that the Fables conform to all manner of superhero tropes, working feverishly to get the costumes and the code names just right. There's something pretty priceless in seeing the likes of Bigby (a.k.a. "The Werewolf Man"), Ozma ("Super Witch"), and Thumbelina ("Tiny Titan") outfitted in garish crime fighting threads.
I can see why there are some mixed reviews about this collection as the battle against Mr. Dark feels very anticlimactic compared to the previous one with Frau Totenkinder. There isn't the big explosion or the epic last battle. It's just not what you really expect at all. And yet...I like how it all goes down. It fits well within the Fables world, much like how Geppetto was finally defeated and it's going to lead the gang down a very different path than what many people I think expected.
Also, we finally get a glimpse of the person who had roused Rose Red from her horrid apathy at the Farm. Except that getting a glimpse doesn't necessarily translate to knowing just who in heck this person is. A fairy godmother of sorts? Rose Red and Snow White's mother in her true form? Time will tell.
I found the Super Team (F-Team assemble!) idea to be having potential, but it completely sputtered out in here, and some things aren't quite explained. I only wish some aspects of this story had been handled better.
In other stories we get to check in with Bufkin, our hero of the lost business office, who manages to find his way back to his homeworld of Oz in "The Ascent" (I love the tree with lunchbox fruits) and continues his quest to be the best hero he can be. And we also check in with our lost hero Sleeping Beauty in "Waking Beauty."
Title Fables Vol. 16: Super Team Author Bill Willingham Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Laban's one-shot comic blends the modern myths of the Green Lantern with the ancient legends of "The Arabian Nights", as the beautiful Scheherazade teLaban's one-shot comic blends the modern myths of the Green Lantern with the ancient legends of "The Arabian Nights", as the beautiful Scheherazade tells fantastical stories of a magic lamp, a jade-colored genie, and their owner, Al Jhor Dan.
The wonderful illustrations enhances the very short retelling of this famous set of fables which borrows from the different (less well-known) stories as translated by Sir Richard Burton, but with the aim of providing the ruling sultan with lessons on how to properly rule his kingdom.
Title Green Lantern: 1001 Emerald Nights Author Terry LaBan, Rebecca Guay-Mitchell Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
In this spin-off of Bill Willingham's "Fables" series, Cinderella is a covert agent: her cover is a shoe store called The Glass Slipper. In her latestIn this spin-off of Bill Willingham's "Fables" series, Cinderella is a covert agent: her cover is a shoe store called The Glass Slipper. In her latest assignment, "Cindy" must work with handsome but infuriating Aladdin to find out who is sneaking weapons between Fableland and the outside world.
Cindy underwent one of the most radical revisions of the major Fables characters, becoming a super-spy in the service of Fabletown, while operating under the cover of running a shoe store. We can blame Bigby Wolf for seeing her talent. It's not especially connected to her past back story, which might make it seem a bit random, but Willingham in the past has been able to write a very plausible spy, and Roberson likewise proves up to the task.
In this instance, Cindy is on the trail of a magical weapons shipment that has reportedly been sent into the Mundy world. In pursuit of her task, she travels to Dubai (the Las Vegas of the Middle East), and finds herself teamed up with none other than Aladdin, who is operating on behalf of the Arabian Fable world, the "real" Bahgdad. The two form your typical spy movie duo, and proceed on the case. The result includes some follow-up on the "Arabian Nights (and Days)" story arc in the "Fables" title, as well as a reappearance by a certain important figure in Cinderella's past.
And while all this is going on in Dubai, Cindy's assistant Crispin is using her shop to turn himself into the newest fashion mogul in Manhattan. Unfortunately, the shoes have some... well, unpleasant side effects.
Magic carpets, genies, parachutes, shoemaking elves, Puss-in-Boots, Jenny Wren and some very obscure figures from the Arabian Nights mythology. Most spy stories center on male figures (either in the Bourne or Bond mold), so it's fun to see a sexy, feminine woman getting to do the job, especially since we see Cindy's previous spy adventures through the centuries.
The only drawback is that we don't get as deep a look into Cindy's head as I'd like & I do wish we'd seen a bit of her doing her training.
Title Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love Author Chris Roberson Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Tom Taylor is the son of Wilson Taylor and the unwilling namesake of the protagonist in his dad's wildly popular 13-book fantasy series. The Tommy TayTom Taylor is the son of Wilson Taylor and the unwilling namesake of the protagonist in his dad's wildly popular 13-book fantasy series. The Tommy Taylor industry of movies, video games, and geek-ridden conventions is given an extra dash of drama by Wilson's having mysteriously disappeared years before, leaving a cynical Tom (who inherited none of his millions) to eke out a grubby living at paid appearances. But after an encounter with a mysterious woman inquiring into his past, the question of exactly what Tom is comes to the fore. This kicks off a strange and as-yet-largely-unexplained journey into conspiracy and metafiction.
Carey's story picks up speed fast when Tom realizes some elements of Wilson's stories might not be made up. Carey has not only created a brisk and addictive story, sketched with crafty allusions to classic literature featuring Mary Shelley, Rudyard Kipling (where Carey manages to reinterpret Kipling's entire literary output and personal life in the context of the series' ongoing plot) and Mark Twain; but also neatly subverted the celebrity-worship manias of fantasy fandom and questioned the very nature of storytelling itself.
Title The Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity Author Mike Carey Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Wagner and Kaluta team up to provide more backstory for the glamorous and powerful Madame Xanadu in Exodus Noir. Collecting issues 11 through 15, theWagner and Kaluta team up to provide more backstory for the glamorous and powerful Madame Xanadu in Exodus Noir. Collecting issues 11 through 15, the volume toggles between New York in 1940 and Spain in 1493, at the height of the Inquisition. While both portions are engaging, the New York part of the story really springs off the page.
The theme of this collection is the Inquisition, with the historical setting of mid-15th century Spain, when Cardinal Torquemada's men roam the countryside in search of heretics to burn in the name of God (cue some standard moralizing about the contrast between the words of God's love and the reality of violent hatred). Xanadu is standing idly by through that, living with a woman named Marisol, her lover (this is Vertigo, so you can do stuff like that; it's tastefully handled, even if the trajectory of the story is instantly discernible).
In the modern era, the Gypsy sorceress tracks a demon set on destroying three men who thought they had outrun an ancient curse. Back in Spain, readers learn of Madame Xanadu's tragic affair with a ginger-haired seamstress that arouses the suspicions of the Catholic Church. The twists and turns of the two tales eventually dovetail in a dramatic conclusion that includes a cameo by another Vertigo mainstay, in this case the original Wesley Dodds or "Sandman".
Contrary to what readers will be expecting for most of the way through, there is no direct connection between the events, which weakens the story overall. The relationship is purely thematic, relating to the sins of the Inquisition.
Title Madame Xanadu Vol. 2: Exodus Noir Author Matt Wagner and Michael Kaluta Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
We start off with a two-issue story that takes us back into the Dark Man's history, who he is, and how he was caught in the first place. So now we knoWe start off with a two-issue story that takes us back into the Dark Man's history, who he is, and how he was caught in the first place. So now we know just what a formidable foe the Fables are up against.
Where to begin? First we've got the problem of Mister Dark, the embodiment of everything you are and should be afraid of. He's preparing himself for something sinister, something that will undoubtedly effect not only the fables but mankind in general. If that's not bad enough, the tensions on the Farm are rising. Frau Totenkinder's departure sets up some surprising reveals about her nature. Her absence leaves the Fables' coven of witches and warlocks without a leader, and here's Ozma, that ambitious little girl (except, in this series, we don't go by appearances). Or as Reynard the Fox remarks when summoned by Ozma: "You called, young lady (with disturbingly old eyes?") Ozma has been raring to assume the mantle of leadership for a while and she leaps at the chance. Somewhere, L. Frank Baum is perhaps marveling at the changes Willingham had wrought in her.
Things aren't going all that well for Bufkin either--he's trapped in the remnants of Fabletown's business office with a whole host of newly released monsters-- including a powerful djinn and a very mad Baba Yaga. If you like Willingham's penchant for elevating mild supporting characters like Boy Blue and the Frog Prince into epic heroes, he takes a stab at doing the same for Bufkin. But with sillier results a expected. But we have to remember this: Buffkin is the librarian who has read every book in the library and he remembers everything. I grinned a lot reading Bufkin's arc: since he marshals his ridiculous forces which consist of disembodied heads, wee barleycorn brides, and the magic mirror. His waging war on Baba Yaga comes off like preschool play time gone horribly off the rails.
Meanwhile in Flycatcher's kingdom there's trouble as well. A drunk goblin has eaten one of the other citizens of the kingdom. The other goblins are threatening to revolt if the offender is put to death, but pardoning the gob's crimes might be just as bad. This story doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the volume but it does advance both Flycatcher and Riding Hood's characters and story arcs.
In contrast to "Fables 13: The Great Fables Crossover" which was boring and nonsensical, "Fables 14: Witches" has all the classic components that makes the series so incredibly addictive. If you think of the last tpb as a departure, then this volume brings you safely within the realm of the Fables we've come to know and love.
The book begins in the Baghdad Zoo where life is easy for Zill, his two wives (Noor and Safa) and his son Ali. Zill and Ali seem content but Noor, feeThe book begins in the Baghdad Zoo where life is easy for Zill, his two wives (Noor and Safa) and his son Ali. Zill and Ali seem content but Noor, feeling a change in the wind, contemplates escape. When the bombs start to fall an opportunity is had and the four make their way out of the zoo and into the streets of Baghdad. The world is theirs for the time being--only the tanks in the street and the planes in the sky surround them.
Inspired by true events, this story tells of four lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo during a bombing raid in 2003 and encounter other animals that offer unique perspectives, such as a tortoise that survived World War I. They begin to question the nature of freedom. Can it be achieved without being earned? What is its price? What do the lions owe the zookeepers who took care of them at the cost of keeping them in captivity? Where should they go? What should they eat?
The four lions soon realize that a desert city is nothing like the grassy savannas of their memories. Their experiences mirror those of the Iraqi citizens displaced by the conflict. In documenting the plight of the lions, ”Pride of Baghdad” raises questions about the true meaning of liberation - can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?
The characters are well delineated--you have an old, emotionally and physically scarred lioness with one eye; a proud and intelligent male; a haughty mother who despises the older female; and her cute, little cub who meet other interesting animal characters along the way. Additionally, aspects of the story, however, flawed, are well done: I defy you not to feel even a little "twinge" at the last scene.
In spite of these strengths, there were a few flaws that kept Pride book from being much better than it could've been. The dialogue, for one, was sub par for a story of this caliber. It's not poorly written necessarily, just at times cliché, unimaginative, or pretentious to the point where you find yourself rolling your eyes occasionally at the clumsy attempts to make the lions and other animals sound philosophical and "tribal".
Dialogue was the least of ”Pride of Baghdad”’s problem, though, and could've been easily overlooked had it not been for its biggest flaw-- its short storyline. A lot of interesting philosophical questions and issues were brought up in the course of the comic. But the story ends so quickly that it doesn't even come close to exploring them, so you can't help but feel either disappointed, stunned at how quickly the story ends, or cheated. This is a concept that clearly needed another one or two volumes to tell its story; unfortunately, all it seemed to be given was a paltry chapter. It's a shame, because had ”Pride of Baghdad” been allowed more space, it could've been a real masterpiece.
Created by a freak accident, the Swamp Thing is an elemental creature who uses the forces of nature and wisdom of the plant kingdom to rail against aCreated by a freak accident, the Swamp Thing is an elemental creature who uses the forces of nature and wisdom of the plant kingdom to rail against a polluted world's self-destruction.
Inspired by the 1970s creation of writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, Alan Moore took the Swamp Thing to new heights in the 1980s with his unique narrative approach. The beginning of the arc, entitled the "Anatomy Lesson", reveals that the title character is in fact not Alec Holland, but a life form thinking that it is. As the story unfolds, Swamp Thing returns to his home, and his run in's with the Floronic Man and a horrifying encounter with comic icon Jack Kirby's Demon, and there's even a cameo from the JLA.
I was disappointed that they didn't go with a higher grade paper for this hardcover volume, something glossy would have been nice. Unfortunately it is the same newspaper-print stock type paper that was used in the paperback.
Title Saga of Swamp Thing Book One Author Alan Moore Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
The appeal of "Fables" has always been the re-imagining of fairy tale characters as if they were as messy and screwed up as real people; the characterThe appeal of "Fables" has always been the re-imagining of fairy tale characters as if they were as messy and screwed up as real people; the characters are divorcées, drunks, womanizers, and overall flawed beings.
Mister Dark's unsettling reach falls on the Farm, infects its residents. Particularly Bigby Wolf and the Beast, who as the book opens are tearing into each other's throat. Both Bigby and the Beast worryingly recognize that they aren't themselves, that an external force is triggering their inner aggression. A solution of sorts presents itself when Jack Horner calls to alert the Fables to a new ominous threat, something which calls for the investigative skills of Fabletown's former Sheriff, Bigby Wolf. So off he and his wife Snow White go to meet the Literals, a race of beings powerful enough to wipe out both Fables and humanity.
In this crossover of all the Fables characters from various spin-off books, Kevin Thorn, the creator of the world and its stories, is angry such liberties were taken with his characters and is determined to destroy the Fablesverse and start over. The regular Fables cast, Snow White, Bigby Wolf, and Jack (the one with the beanstalk)—with a few additions such as gun-toting embodiments of the library sciences and Thorn's son, Mister Revise—try to stop Thorn before he writes them and the rest of the world out of existence.
One could overdose on all the meta-textual discourse, in reading this run. The meta stuff injects a layer of the surreal, and maybe, as fun as the literary Genres are and what they have to say, in a way, it somewhat took me out of the story. The Genres are figures which Thorn summons to help him deal with the Writer's Block, and I like that the embodiment of Noir resembles Bogie, Western looks like the Duke, and Comedy, Groucho Marx. The Genres make all these remarks, and they're not insightful as much as they are tongue-in-cheek and satirical.
There are a lot of meanwhiles, and interesting side points and characters, but the overall plot is lacking.
Title Vol. 13: Fables: The Great Fables Crossover Author Bill Willingham Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
Understanding Willingham's novel doesn't require knowledge of the comic it's based upon, but it certainly helps; "Fables" follows a population of fairUnderstanding Willingham's novel doesn't require knowledge of the comic it's based upon, but it certainly helps; "Fables" follows a population of fairy tale characters seeking shelter in our world after their enchanted lands were conquered. Familiar figures like Snow White, Rose Red, the Beast and Belle, the Big Bad Wolf and others fill out a cast led by Peter Piper and his brother, Max. Sibling rivalry, magical flutes and, yes, pickled peppers factor in the clever, adventurous plot that sees Peter pursuing Bo Peep.
"Peter & Max: A Fables Novel" tells the story of Peter Piper and his brother, Max. Musicians of small renown, Max became rabidly jealous of Peter, and let the jealously fester until it made him capable of the most heinous of deeds. When he comes into the possession of a magic flute of great power, Max becomes capable of any and every crime, and the whole population of Fabletown is afraid of what he might do. And so, Peter goes off to confront Max, but does he have the power to win out?
The story and characters, if not terribly complex, are entirely imaginative and entertaining. And, kept me turning the pages, even when I should have been sleeping. Willingham is somehow able to combine taking his characters plight seriously with a tongue-in-cheek, dry wit that pokes fun at the zany world he's created--which makes it all the more enjoyable.
The ending was a little predictable, but it did resolve as a fairy tale should. And, after finishing this quick-read, I felt indeed that I'd just read a good, imaginative fairy tale.
What amazes me about Willingham is the way he continually mines traditional stories for new and unexpectedly entertaining stories. He also mixes stories in unexpected ways. Just as no one would have anticipated Boy Blue or the Frog Prince being major heroes in the first major story arc in "Fables", so it is surprising the way Willingham crosses the stories of Peter Piper, Bo Peep, and the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I honestly was not terribly excited about this when I first heard about it, but I ended up loving it a great deal.
Though it toys with notions of mythology and its origins, this work still keeps true to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm: dark, fast-paced, moving and entertaining, with a few surprises along the way.
Title Peter & Max: A Fables Novel Author Bill Willingham and Steve Leialoha Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
She is comics' most mysterious magician, playing a part in countless stories yet having no chance to tell her own. Wagner has written from Madame XanaShe is comics' most mysterious magician, playing a part in countless stories yet having no chance to tell her own. Wagner has written from Madame Xanadu's story as it spans centuries from the time of Camelot to the court of Kublai Khan to 1940s New York City and beyond.
Always, Madame Xanadu's powers of sight can change the course of human history, but her vision is clouded when she looks into herself. Time and again, she encounters the Phantom Stranger who prods and guides her actions and motives during significant events in history.
This tpb collects Issues #1-10 and features well-known characters such as Merlin, Morgana Le Fey, Jack the Ripper, Death, Marie Antoinette and of course, the ever present Phantom Stranger.
Title Madame Xanadu Vol. 1: Disenchanted Author Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
In this final volume, the war is over and a new order is rising from the ashes. His own fate now decided, Lucifer begins to settle his affairs--only tIn this final volume, the war is over and a new order is rising from the ashes. His own fate now decided, Lucifer begins to settle his affairs--only to discover that he still has one deadly enemy unaccounted for.
"Lucifer Vol. 11: Evensong" has many things in common with the last book of the Sandman series, "The Sandman Vol. 10: The Wake", in that it occurs after all the action has taken place, and exists mainly to wrap things up. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the big "go out with a bang" comes and the end of the last book, and "Lucifer Vol. 11: Evensong"is, if not exactly a whimper, then perhaps only the fading echo of the bang that was.
In true Carey fashion, all major characters drift off where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to pick them up again. I have no wish to spoil the endings, but Jill Presto lives happily ever after, Elayne decides to start taking her God roll seriously, and even Gaudium enjoys some level of respite.
Then there's Lucifer, easily the most entrancing character to ever walk through literature. In the final comic, Lucifer comes full circle with his past, and has the final confrontation with his father that we have been expecting since the first book. As you might imagine, Lucifer cannot help but be himself, and nothing is resolved. The last comic even manages to force you to sympathize with God's position, and the ending is more than a little sad as Lucifer fades away into the sunset (or lack of sunset, as the case may be).
Title Lucifer Vol. 11: Evensong Author Mike Carey Reviewed By Purplycookie...more
As the book opens, Lilith, the first woman, and the architect of Heaven, is leading her children, the Lilim against the forces of The Silver City. GodAs the book opens, Lilith, the first woman, and the architect of Heaven, is leading her children, the Lilim against the forces of The Silver City. God has disappeared and Lilith means to destroy his throne, the Primum Mobile, to prevent God from returning home. Meanwhile Lucifer gathers his own forces that include Lilith's daughter Mazikeen, and the human woman Elaine--herself now a divine power and maker of her own form of creation.
Lucifer visits Hell's new ruler, Christopher Rudd, in the hopes of convincing him to aid Heaven in their battle with Lilith. This puts Rudd in a sticky situation: his own goal is to eliminate the division between Hell and Heaven and do away with this class system. Rudd wants change but he also doesn't want to see Heaven and all creation destroyed as Lilith does.
All sorts of characters try to pass final judgment on heaven, hell and generally all creation (one of them being the second child of the Basanos whose beef is only with Lucifer) but in the end it is Yahweh himself who needs to decide what to do with his creation. Lilith and Elaine Belloc serve as "advocatus diaboli" and "advocatus dei" but as always, Lucifer finds a way to bend the rules a little bit, even in this final climax.
While the series does end the story doesn't. Many questions about the new order of Heaven, Hell, and the world itself are left unanswered for perhaps a later series.
Title Lucifer Vol. 10: Morningstar Author Mike Carey Reviewed By Purplycookie...more