Tag Archives: Fairy Tales

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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The Inside Story, Michael Buckley

The Inside Story, Michael BuckleyThe Inside Story by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2010
Pages: 266 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #8

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

 

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have studied hundreds of fairy tales as part of the family business, but they never thought they’d actually be in one. And yet that’s exactly what happens when they follow the diabolical Master into the Book of Everafter, a mysterious tome in which copies of the world’s fairy tales live out their stories over and over again. The Grimm’s must track down the Master while avoiding the book’s tyrannical Editor, who is devoted to keeping the stories on track. In the Book of Everafter, stories can be rewritten, which is why Sabrina and Daphne must find the Master before he can alter his fate – and the fate of the world.

The penultimate book in the series, The Inside Story, is a massive departure from the previous instalments. The now-formulaic ‘Fairy Tale Detective’ plot-line that’s been gradually phased out in the last two books is now put completely aside in favour of pure action-adventure. But also put aside is the ‘fairy tale characters living in the modern world’ concept, which is probably the bit I enjoy most about this series. The Inside Story sees Daphne and Sabrina leaving Ferryport Landing and jumping into the master-book of fairytales where they have to race through each story, in pursuit of the villainous ‘Master’, before he changes his own story forever and gives himself ultimate powers. Meanwhile ‘the Editor’ is pursuing them all for interfering with his stories and insisting they put things back the way they were. It’s all very meta and it does sound like a fun concept. But the execution left me feeling kind of flat. Continue reading

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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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The Everafter War, Michael Buckley

The Everafter War, Michael BuckleyThe Everafter War by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2009
Pages: 306 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #7

Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

After two years trapped in enchanted sleep, Daphne and Sabrina’s parents are finally free. Unfortunately, they’ve awoken to chaos in Ferryport Landing. Prince Charming and his band of rebels are in hiding, plotting war against the Master and his henchmen. At first Sabrina is glad to have her family back. But after taking care of herself and Daphne for so long, she has forgotten how different – and challenging – life with parents can be. Meanwhile, the Master has dark plans for the Grimms. Finally, the family will come face-to-face with their tormentor, and a betrayal sp deep that it will change their world forever.

Whilst the Sisters Grimm series still suffers from all the problems I went into a little in my last review – mainly inconsistent pacing, tone, and writing – I liked this book a lot more than Tales From the Hood. Finally, finally, the ‘mystery’ formula is dropped to allow the overarching plot takes centre stage and the villain’s start acting like the competent bad guys they appeared in the alternative future of Magic and other Misdemeanours and not the bumblingly ineffective bunch of petty villains with patchy motivations they have always appeared in the other books. This is a book that, to be honest, should probably have come a lot sooner in the series, but I am glad that, even if it only happened in book seven, the plot is making some forward movements.

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Tales From the Hood, Michael Buckley

Tales from the Hood, Michael BuckleyTales From the Hood by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2008
Pages: 274 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #6

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

In Ferryport Landing, everyone gets a day in court – even the Big Bad Wolf. Mr, Canis is put on trial for past crimes, and Mayor Heart’s kangaroo court is determined to find him guilty. It’s up to the Grimms to uncover evidence to save their friend, though Sabrina starts to wonder whether they would all be safer with the Wolf in jail. Despite her misgivings, Sabrina and her sister, Daphne, investigate what actually happened in the Big Bad Wolf’s most famous tale – and the real story will shock you!

I’ve given all the previous books in this series four stars but that’s a bit misleading, although I really enjoy them that is despite a lot of issues present throughout the series – but that came to a bit of a head for me in this book. The overarching plot is very drawn out with some of the books (2, 4, and 6 so far) failing to do anything much to advance it, Sabrina’s character development keeps going two step forwards in each book only to be followed by one step back in the next,  and the writing is often a bit clumsy. Buckley’s method of opening each book in medias res with a snippet from the climax before going back a few days to start the story again at the beginning has always bothered me. Rather than adding to anticipation or tension, I find it detracts from it and tends to make the climaxes anti-climactic. What I have given the previous books four stars for is primarily good ideas and ‘fun factor’ over their actual execution. This book had those good ideas, but I didn’t find it anywhere near so fun.

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Magic and other Misdemeanors, Michael Buckley

Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Michael BuckleyMagic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2007
Pages: 282 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #5

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

In their latest adventure, intrepid fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm investigate a rash of magical thefts that might add up to a very grim future for their family, who are not so popular in Ferryport Landing these days. With Granny Relda desperately scrambling to pay Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes on humans, the Sisters Grimm tackle their first solo case – with a little help from the troublemaker Puck, of course. Meanwhile their old friend Mr. Canis seems to be losing his grip on his human self, becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change their family’s future for the better?

After their trip to New York, the Sisters Grimm are back in Ferryport Landing for their best adventure yet. Magic items have been stolen from three of Ferryport’s most powerful witches and tears in the fabric of time have started opening up in town, letting through dinosaurs, American civil war soldiers, and providing the sisters with a rather grim glimpse into their possible futures where dragons roam the skies and the Scarlet Hand rules Fairyport.

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