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Posted December 27, 2012
I have to say at the start that I am a huge FABLES fan, from the first days of the series. The concept hasn't tired for me at all, and I think overall Willingham finds ways to keep the characters and stories fresh -- not an easy thing to do with a monthly on-going series in a field that hates endings and permanent character changes. All of that being said, I felt like this was one of the weaker entries into the series.
There's nothing wrong with the basic concept: Bigby Wolf finding out that there are indeed werewolves in the "mundy" world. There's nothing wrong with the basic problem: as a self-contained and fairly in-bred society with its roots in Nazi Germany, the werewolves are not exactly well-adjusted. And it's not that the story isn't self-contained: the call-backs to previous Fables storylines (including Bigby's World War II service and the early machinations and death of Bluebeard) tell new readers what they need to know without veering off into detailed flashbacks or "you really should read volume xxx" footnotes. Despite all of this, for me the story came off feeling at once too big and too empty. Aside from the always-strong characterization of Bigby (who, let's face it, has been the heart of the Fables story since the beginning, even as Snow White is the soul), the rest of the main characters feel largely interchangeable and stereotypical: the old friend with a secret, the young girl with premonitions, the angry cop, the femme fatale, etc. I found myself not really caring what happened to anyone except Bigby, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't Willingham's intent (considering the strong effort he's always made in Fables to make even tertiary characters stand as individuals).
The cover art is gorgeous. The interior page art is easy to follow, reasonably realistic and but not all that detailed. The story gets the job done and of course leaves room for further complications to arise. I wish I'd enjoyed the book more than I did.
Also: kudos to Willingham for sliding a sly reference to "Once Upon A Time" into the narrative.
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Posted October 20, 2013
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