Friday, January 21, 2011
I started reading Fables in 2009, catching up with all the graphic novels over the course of a few months which was a great experience; so much material to get through, always something new and surprising to discover. Those things are still true, but now I have to patiently await each new chapter (in trade paperback form) like everyone else. The latest is Witches, which continues on from the great Fables crossover from the last volume. For those not in the know, the general state of this universe is that Fables (such as Snow White) live among us – they had been driven from their various worlds into ours because of an adversary who was hunting them down. Having recently defeated that adversary, the Fables have found themselves homeless because their victory has unleashed another evil, Mister Dark. As the book title suggests, this story focuses in on a coven of Witches who live among the Fables, from Frau Totenkinder (of Hansel and Gretel fame) to Ozma (of Oz) and many others. This coven is trying to determine a way to defeat Mister Dark, even as they fight for leadership among their group. Meanwhile, part of the destroyed Fabletown has actually just gone missing – fallen into a dimensional rift as the city was destroyed. One of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, along with Frankenstein’s head and some wooden soldiers and fairies have to find a way to defend what’s left of their home from the likes of the Witch Baba Yaga and evil Genie’s who have escaped their imprisonment. And in the final story, we revisit the Frog Prince, who has set up a kingdom in the reclaimed lands from the Adversary. The Prince is faced with his first difficult decision as ruler, how to punish someone who has broken the rules that have been imposed on all Fables living their. He also struggles to make peace with his growing feelings for Red Riding Hood, sometimes to comical results. While I’ve enjoyed the last few volumes of Fables, I feel like the story has been a little aimless since vol 11 (the battle with the Adversary). The Dark Ages (v 12) began this new storyline with Mister Dark, and The Great Fable Crossover (v 13) didn’t really advance it. Now this volume comes along and tries to progress the plot, but doesn’t succeed all that well. Mister Dark is doing something – but we don’t know what. The Fables want to find out, but everything they try is foiled. The Witches want to come up with a plan, but they’re too busy fighting among themselves to do so. The strongest story is actually the one with the flying monkey, which is odd since there are so many strong characters that could be focused on (even the Witches themselves could have been better utilized here). I’m holding out hope that the next volume will really pay off (I suspect it will include issue #100 which was just recently released to critical acclaim), because I’m afraid that I’ve grown somewhat tired of this story otherwise and don’t find myself rushing off to read it the way I used to. I actually think Witches was stronger than the previous few volumes, but still not enough for me to say that it’s equal to any of the first 11 in the series.
Posted by Jim Haley at 1/21/2011