Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book #20

Fables, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, et. al. Volumes 9 & 10. Graphic Novel.

Fables is probably the best ongoing comic book series being written today. Bill Willingham's world of fables living in our world is rich, nuanced, and endlessly fascinating.

The "Sons of Empire" trade covers issues 52-59 of the series. The strong theme of this volume is fathers and sons, focusing on the Gepetto-Pinnochio bond. Bigby Wolf is also featured, the trained relationship with his father the North Wind contrasted with the strong relationship he has with his magical wolf children.

This collection also features a pair of great stand-alone stories, the "Jiminy Christmas" issue (#56), and a truly unique idea in comics, a short story collection (#59).

Issues 60-69 collect the terrific 9-issue "Good Prince" arc, a story featuring the Frog Prince and the ghost of Sir Lancelot taking on the Adversary on his own turf. The character moments are inspired, and the battle scenes (both the planning and the execution) are as good as I've seen in any fantasy work. The fact that the protagonists are names we recognize (Boy Blue, Shere Kahn, Bluebeard, Gepetto) just add color to what is already a exceptional war story.

The intermission issue (#64) is a terrific deversion, a weird story with a completely different narrative and art style. Willingham's skill is that this manages to be a stand-alone story, but fits perfectly in the chronology of both the "Good Prince" arc and the overall Fables arc.

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