Category Archives: Comic Books

Fairest, Vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom, Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes & various artists

Fairest, Hidden KingdomsFairest: The Hidden Kingdom

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fairest, Volume 1 (Issues 8-14) – Spinoff from Fables

Writers: Bill WillinghamLauren Beukes
Artists:
 Inaki Miranda, Barry Kitson
Colourists: Eva de la Cruz, Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Adam Hughes

Rating:3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5

Once upon a time, before the FABLES saga began, a war was brewing in the East. At the centre of this conflict stood a single woman – and a whole lot of hair.

Rapunzel’s romantic history is as long and full as her legendary golden locks. Some of its strands, however, are more tangled than others – including the prince she bedded, the witch she infuriated, the children who were stolen from her, and the faraway realm to which she fled to get away from it all.

In that Hidden Kingdom, home to the Fables of Japan, Rapunzel found new love in the arms of a beautiful seductress with a soul of foxfire – and a new enemy in the person of a brutal warlord.

Now, centuries later, the ghosts of her past have returned to haunt her, and Rapunzel must travel to the Land of the Rising Sun to discover the truth about her long-lost children – as well as the fate of those others, loved and hated, that she left behind.

I enjoyed the story of The Hidden Kingdom a lot more than I did the previous volume, Wide Awake, but it still gets three stars from me because I’ve become a much harder marker since then. It avoided a lot of the things I complained about in Wide AwakeHidden Kingdoms is written by a woman (Bill Willingham is credited as ‘consultant’) and Rapunzel is very much the lead of this book, she has her own agency, and her presentation isn’t filtered to us (much) through the eyes of a male character. She does things for herself and the story can be (and probably should have been) told without the male love interest. But I just couldn’t get into it enough for it to rank in the four stars.

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Fables, Vol. 19: Snow White, Bill Willingham and various artists

Fables- Snow WhiteFables: Snow White

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fables, Volume 19 (issues 124-129 & backup stories for 114-123)

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists:
 Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, Andrew Pepoy
Colourists: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Mark Buckingham, Joao Raus

Rating3/53/53/53/53/5

Warning: This is volume 19 of an ongoing series  – it’s going to be impossible for me to avoid spoilers for previous volumes.

DEUS EX MATRIMONY

Once she was the beloved of Prince Charming, the greatest swordsman who ever lived. Then she married Bigby Wolf, the implacable offspring of the North Wind. But before she knew either one of those famous Fables, Snow White was betrothed to another,

Now this dark prince has returned, bearing unstoppable magic and seeking Snow’s lovely white hand in (re)marriage. Her current husband? He’ll have to go. Their children? No room for them in this happy family either.

It’s hardly the fairy-tale ending Snow and Bigby envisioned – which is why Snow, whose radiant exterior belies the depth of her icy resolve, will stop at nothing to prevent it from happening. But will Snow fall? Or will someone else be buried beneath the coming storm?

With Snow White, the acclaimed creative team of Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha is joined by guest artist Shawn McManus to unearth long-buried secrets and usher in a shocking new era for the entire Fables cast!

News broke last year that Fables would be ending for good with issue 150. As a massive Fables fan I actually couldn’t have been more pleased because, since issue 75 when the first main plot thread was resolved, the series has rather lost its direction. New threats have been brought in, new villains, but none with the same impact. New plots and ideas and characters have been cycled through at such a pace that I find myself losing track and longing for more of the original main characters to step back into the spotlight. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but I no longer instantly want to rush out and buy the trade paperbacks the moment they come out, I sit about not even realising it’s out then go ‘oh yeah…I should probably catch up on Fables‘ when I do chance to see a new volume in my comic store.  A planned endpoint is really what the series needs.

But onto this particular volume! Although I’ve rated it 3 stars I actually like it more than the last one. It’s a much welcome return to the core cast and the two characters who really sold me on the series right back at the beginning: Snow White and Bigby Wolf.

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Fables, Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland, Bill Willingham & various artists

Fables 18 Cubs in ToylandFables: Cubs in Toyland

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fables, Volume 18 (issues 114-123)

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists:
 Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Gene Ha, Andrew Pepoy, Dan Green
Colourists: Lee Loughridge, Art Lyon
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Joao Raus

Rating4/54/54/54/54/5

Warning: This is volume 18 of an ongoing series  – it’s going to be impossible for me to avoid spoilers completely for previous volumes.

Her [sibling] was crowned the new North Wind, but all Therese Wolf got was a lousy toy boat.

She doesn’t much like the thing – and that’s before it starts whispering to her in the middle of the night, encouraging her to run away from home. But with her father preparing [sibling] for [their] new responsibilities and her mother busy with the rest of the brood, a magical journey might not be such a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Therese’s voyage takes her to the desolate shoreline of Toyland, where dwell the broken-down playthings of the Discardia. Wooden, metal, plastic or stuffed, they’re all looking for a queen to fix their bodies and their realm.

But these toys are broken in more ways than one.

As her family – led by her wild brother Dare – frantically searches for her, what will become of Therese when she discovers the terrible truth about Toyland? And what price must be paid to save her life – and her soul?

Without a doubt the darkest volume of Fables yet, this volume is also the best addition to the series for a long time. It’s not up to early Fables standards, and I’m still not quite sure that the series was best served by continuing after the main plotline of the Adversary was concluded, rather than ending it on a satisfying, epic conclusion – Fables has been starting to show the wear and tear of a story stretched out beyond it’s initial plotline for a while now – but this has restored some of my faith. Continue reading

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Fairest: Wide Awake, Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, & various artists

Fairest, Vol.1Fairest: Wide Awake

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fairest, Volume 1 (Issues 1-7) – Spinoff from Fables

Writers: Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges
Artists:
Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Steve Sadowski, Mark Farmer, Andrew Pepoy, Shawn McManus
Colourists: Andrew Dalhouse, Shawn McManus
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Adam Hughes

Rating:

So I’m going to skip the blurb on this one as, although the first book of its own series, it contains some pretty big spoilers for events in its parent series, Fables. In fact I’m not sure how someone trying to read this series without having read Fables first would be able to get into it, as it does rely quite a bit on knowing the character’s backstories already. But I enjoyed it, not as much as I was hoping, but a lot more than I was fearing after the last Cinderella book. It’s not the best, and I battled for a long time with myself over whether it should really  be a 3 or 4 star read, but in the end, despite a few misgivings, I decided to be generous. Definitely worth checking out if you’re following Fables already, it has the same sort of feel to it – something the previous spinoff, Jack of Fables didn’t – but I’m not sure I’d recommend that someone new to the Fables universe starts here.

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Fables, Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind, Bill Willingham & various artists

Fables: Inherit the Wind

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fables, Volume 17 (issues 108-113)

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists:
Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy, Dan Green, Rick Leonardi, P. Craig Russell, Zander Cannon, Jim Fern, Ramon Bachs, Adam Hughes
Colourists: Lee Loughridge, Lovern Kindzierski
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Joao Raus

Rating:

New Fables volume! If you’re not familiar with the Fables comics I gave a quick overview of the original concept in my review of the last volume, but I would suggest you stop reading this review now if you do want to pick the series up from the start (and it’s wonderful so I suggest you do!). This isn’t one of those comics were status quo is god, time never passes, and things stay essentially the same – even just putting the blurb from the back cover up would be including major spoilers to anyone even just a little behind. So instead I’m just gunna kinda launch into a review of my general thoughts.

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Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artists:
Shawn McManus
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)
Series: Cinderella #2 (Fables spinoff)

Rating: 

Fashionista, socialite – spy?

Hey, if the shoe fits…

She poses as a haughty socialite in glass stilettos by day – and okay, sometimes by night. But Cinderella is actually Fabletown’s master spy. Tasked with doing jobs too dirty and deadly for the average Fable, Cindy’s faced down dangers from a dozen worlds and lived to tell the tales (over cocktails in a hot tub, if you’re lucky).

But every secret agent has one annoying ruthless archnemesis and Cindy is no exception. Back in the Big ’80s, Cindy encountered her dark mirror, a rogue American Fable, who was in league with the mysterious Shadow Fabletown. Cindy thought she’d destroyed her rival years ago. But when a powerful magician turns up dead and another seeks her help, Cindy’s hunt for her old enemy begins anew.

From the frigid back alleys of Russia to the steaming desert, Cindy will follow the clues down the blood-flecked yellow brick road and risk everything she’s got – including her secret identity – to solve the crime and finally get revenge on Silver Slipper.

Eugh. I really wanted to like this one. I was looking forward to it as some superlight reading after my dissertation but no. And it makes me sad because, despite the recent lackluster issues, I do love Fables and Cinderella was one of my favourite characters. I enjoyed her last miniseries too – not as much as the main comics but enough to buy the second – but this is just…underwhelming on all fronts. Continue reading

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Fables (Vol 16): Super Team, Bill Willingham & various artists

Fables: Superteam

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists:
Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Eric Shanower, Terry Moore
Series: Fables, Volume 16 (issues 101-107)

Rating: 4/5

Lets start off with a quick note for those who aren’t comic book fans: this is a comic. Also an apology for everyone because starting a review of the series with volume 16 is kind of a dick move, but I promised myself I would review every book I read this year, so here I am, reviewing it. Continue reading

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