Good, in that it contains a lot of primary sources and some genuinely thoughtful analysis. This is par for the course, since the contributing authors...moreGood, in that it contains a lot of primary sources and some genuinely thoughtful analysis. This is par for the course, since the contributing authors come from an age in which people actually KNEW their Classical literature and in which scholars saw their work as more than simply revising history to fit whatever political or social fads happened to be en vogue at the time.
But Bad, in that it contains a lot of wild conjectures, bizarre theories, and outdated "facts". This is to be expected, since the contributing authors come from an age in which people were more open to...speculative...scholarship.(less)
In which we: are treated to two harrowing and exceedingly bleak tales about the cubs Therese and Darien; have confirmed Mr. Willingham's commitment to...moreIn which we: are treated to two harrowing and exceedingly bleak tales about the cubs Therese and Darien; have confirmed Mr. Willingham's commitment to the original tone of fairy tales; witness the death of a noble old creature; discover that Bigby cheated fate to secure the life he now leads; and learn that, for dear Ambrose at least, things work out all right in the end.(less)
"Fairest" is a series designed to explore the lives of the various female Fables (largely princesses & queens so f...moreWell, i was not expecting THAT.
"Fairest" is a series designed to explore the lives of the various female Fables (largely princesses & queens so far) from Willingham's larger series, "Fables". It's the second such spin-off, improving (so far) on the rather tiresome antics of Jack of Fables (whose spin-off series concluded in 2011 with the title character's death and what I now suspect was a parody of all the big "world-changing" "event" comics DC & Marvel have been shoveling down the line for the last three decades).
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect, fearing that it would turn out to be exploitative (like "Jack of Fables") or excessively snarky (again, like "Jack of Fables"), but the first storyline turned out to be pretty dang solid. The bulk of the volume is taken up with the story of Ali-Baba and his imp Jonah, who together free Briar Rose and Lumi the Snow Queen from the former's enchanted sleep -- Rose & Lumi were last seen being carted away by Goblins in the pages of "Fables" and I was curious as to what would happen to them, so it was a pleasant surprise to see them popping up in their very own mini-series. Briar Rose is something of an enigma, as most of the times she's appeared in "Fables" it was as an agent or a weapon, but we get a whole heaping helping of Rose here and apparently she's something of a bitter loud-mouth -- though really, with the life she's had, who can blame her? But the real gem was the reappearance of Lumi, my favorite of Fables various female characters. I love winter and I love snow, and "The Snow Queen" was one of my favorite fairy-tales when I was a boy, so it makes perfect sense that Lumi would stand out to me. And for the first 2/3 of this story, she's the real stand-out: Ali-Baba is a typical rogue, but an extremely competent and realistic one; Briar Rose is, as i've mentioned, bitter and loud-mouthed; and Jonah is self-consciously obnoxious; but Lumi...ahhhhh, Lumi.
Lumi is powerful, confident, and witty. And over the course of this story we discover that her apparent devotion to the Empire was not all that it seemed, that she's been entirely absent from her kingdom since signing on to serve the Empire, and that she's more than a little unsure of what to do with herself now that the world has changed. We also learn that her shift from merry snow-maiden to cruel tyrant was not simply the result of Jack's betrayal and abandonment. Great character development and insight! Unfortunately, Willingham then saddles her with Ali-Baba as a love interest, something which makes sense in context (she's always had a thing for bad-boys) but which disappoints me as a fan of her character.
The final portion of the book is taken up with a one-shot palate-cleanser story set in the 1940s. "Lamia" is a noir tale involving Beast tracking down a rogue Fable in Los Angeles and it's dang good. I always enjoy these flashbacks to the lives of the Fables before the start of the series, and this one begins with Beast himself musing on the ways in which mundane literature and storytelling have forced him to take on different archetypal roles since his flight to the mundane world, from knight errant to master detective to P.I. And what a closing note! What a finale! If only the rest of the volume could have been as unerringly great as this little story.
Overall, i'm pretty pleased with this volume. The first story felt a bit thin, but did what it set out to do, and the second story was a extremely strong. I didn't enjoy the art in either story (the first was clumsily realistic and the second was excessively cartoonish) but the writing was crisp and quick and it works as a good set-up for "Fariest", establishing the tone and the themes of the series. I look forward to the next volume.(less)
It's...ok. It's not bad, it's not good. It's just...ok. They take a really interesting concept and some really interesting characters, but they just c...moreIt's...ok. It's not bad, it's not good. It's just...ok. They take a really interesting concept and some really interesting characters, but they just can't seem to escape the general crapulence of the New 52 universe. Given the writing, the dialogue and the characterization, it might as well take place in the modern DC Universe.(less)
Things get deep, things get weird. This volume is a bit slower than the first two, but just as intense -- my only real complaint is the fact that, whe...moreThings get deep, things get weird. This volume is a bit slower than the first two, but just as intense -- my only real complaint is the fact that, whereas the first two volumes were 100% narrative, this volume is at least 1/3 excerpts from Smith's sketchbook. And I don't mean "bonus" material; I mean that these sketches take the place of an entire chapter of the story. It's not that these sketches weren't cool, especially the original "cartoony" character designs and Smith's discussion of how he slowly shifted towards the more realistic, more hard-boiled character models. It's simply that these aren't what I paid for.(less)
A delightful mixture of the morbid and the absurd, this time containing a large number (seriously, one of the longer Hellboy volumes in recent memory!...moreA delightful mixture of the morbid and the absurd, this time containing a large number (seriously, one of the longer Hellboy volumes in recent memory!) of 1-shot stories from Hellboy's past, ranging from the early-to-mid 1950s down to the mid-to-late 1980s. Of particular interest are the encounters with: a family of demon-hunting Mexican wrestlers; the Knights of St. Hagan & a lonely demon in France; an incautious demonologist; and cattle mutilations in Kansas -- though one otherwise uninteresting story about English vampires cleverly ties in to the B.P.R.D: 1946/7 stories. And a few of these stories actually manage to be genuinely amusing, rather than just darkly comic!
Corben's work here is exceptional, just as in Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others, and I think he's probably replaced Guy Davis as my favorite non-Mignola artist for this series. Kevin Nowlan's art is perfect for the story for which Mignola drafted him -- Mignola is right, Nowlan REALLY knows how to draw barnyard animals -- but Scott Hampton's art was unremarkable and, at times, lifeless. He has potential, but he seems to focus on all the wrong things. Hampton's disappointing art is balanced out by the inclusion of the story about the incautious demonologist which sees the return of Mignola himself as artist!(less)
Good gravy. The only thing I can really compare this to is the finale of the short-lived sci-fi series "Threshold" -- one story ends, seemingly with t...moreGood gravy. The only thing I can really compare this to is the finale of the short-lived sci-fi series "Threshold" -- one story ends, seemingly with triumph, but this triumph is illusory. Massive, horrible things are coming, and the actions of the protagonists aren't preventing them; they're actually teaching the antagonists how to win. You can't defeat the inevitable. It's like the Ragnarok of comics.(less)
A beautiful and evocative adaptation of Bruchac's pre-historic mythical epic, a tale of the first bow and the defeat of the stone giants based in Nort...moreA beautiful and evocative adaptation of Bruchac's pre-historic mythical epic, a tale of the first bow and the defeat of the stone giants based in North Eastern Native American legends (specifically, Abenaki). I felt, while reading it, as though I were back in the forests of my childhood homes, wary of the hairy men and the blood-drinking skeletons. (less)