Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comic Quickies: Fables Double Header

Fables Vol. 7 Arabian Nights (and Days):  The Fables who remain and live here in our mundane world have finally discovered the identity of the Adversary, so now it's a matter of shoring up their defenses and forging some strong alliances so that their stronghold here in the mundane world continues to be safe from attack.

One major group that remains unconquered by the Adversary are the Arabian Fables, who have sent a delegation to Fabletown in hopes of building a coalition against their mutual enemy.  That's all well and good, but they've come to Fabletown concealing a magical weapon that could cause destruction on a massive level.  It's up to Governor Prince Charming, and his newly appointed ambassador, (and former Governor, King Cole) to smooth things over, and avert a culture clash that could end in disaster.  In addition to the Arabian Nights (and Days) story, this seventh volume in the epic Fables series also features a two issue story called The Ballad of Rodney and June, which is a story of forbidden love among the wooden soldiers in the Adversary's army.

This was my least favorite Fables trade yet.  Sure, it was cool to meet some new fables from the Arabian Homelands, and it was kinda fun to see Old King Cole in his glad-handing element, but not a lot happened here. Arabian Nights (and Days) had a very distinct "middle book" feel to it where not a lot happens, but pieces are put into place for the final stages of the big story line.  I also didn't enjoy Jim Fern's art on the The Ballad of Rodney and June story, but the story was really good, and a lot of fun to read.  I think I liked this one more than the main plot story.

It was cool that Willingham added the Arabian fables characters to the story and added a new magical element to the plot as well, but overall, this one didn't impress me quite as much as previous volumes.  That being said, I'm still all the way on board with this series.

Obviously, given that I read this one as well...

Fables Vol. 8 Wolves:  We've got another "middle book" feeling volume here as Wolves focuses primarily on character development and world building over plot movement.  The best thing about this volume is that we get a healthy dose of Mowgli, who's a pretty cool character, and we finally have the return of Bigby Wolf who has been incognito for the last few volumes.  Bigby Wolf is one of the central characters to this story, and one of my favorite characters too, so it was nice to have the dude back.

Not only that, but this eighth volume contains the 50th issue of the Fables series and that mighty issue contains a big romantic plot thread payoff that is actually pretty well done.  I don't often go in for the romance stuff, but Willingham actually made me care about this love story in this series, so it was nice to see that plot thread have a happy ending...for now.

For the second volume in a row, the back-up story was my favorite part of the volume.  Sean McManus handles the guest art duties this time around and though I wasn't overly impressed, I also wasn't turned off.  Big and Small tells the story of Cinderella, who is one awesome secret agent, and how she managed to forge an alliance between Fabletown and the fine folks of the Cloud Kingdom.  Not the easiest task, and one that required a lot of leg-work and a bit of magical shape shifting!  I really enjoyed the blend of espionage and fantasy.  Good stuff.

All told, these were my two least favorite volumes in the Fables story yet.  Sure they were still quite good, but I felt like the plot took a back seat to side stories.  I realize this is probably one of the more bloated titles on the shelves, considering how many issues it has run for, but I was sorta hoping the bloat wouldn't come until after the battle with the Adversary is over and done with.  Hopefully, the few minor plot developments that do take place here will pay dividends down the road.  I'm still pretty high on this series, but there's a little less wind in my sails after this most recent spate of Fables reading.

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