Why I Read It: Continuing with my Fables read-through is easy enough, with the first four hardcovers at my fingertips. What’s going to be hard is finishing the fourth hardcover and then waiting for the fifth one’s release so I can read it! So I’m starting to take my time with this series, though really, I can’t wait too long. It’s just too enjoyable.
The premise: ganked form BN.com: In the latest deluxe FABLES hardcover, Little Red Riding Hood makes a dramatic reappearance, only to clash with Bigby Wolf.
Bill Willingham’s runaway hit series FABLES with this latest volume collecting the series in hardcover for the first time.
When Little Red Riding Hood suddenly walks through the gate between this world and the lost Fable Homelands, she’s welcomed as a miraculous survivor by nearly everyone – everyone except her old nemesis, Bigby Wolf, who smells espionage and subversion – not survival. But will he be able to prove his case before disaster strikes? And how will it all affect Prince Charming’s upstart campaign to become the new mayor of Fabletown?
Spoilers, yay or nay?: Yay. I want to talk about the progression of the major story arc and how it resolves, so if you haven’t yet read issues #19-27, which this third hardcover collects, skip to “My Rating” and you’ll be just fine. Everyone else, onward!
The Story: So after starting with a rather interesting and somewhat deceiving stand-alone issue featuring Cinderella working undercover for Bigby (sussing out spies for the Adversary, and if not spies, then potential traitors), we get to a major story arc called March of the Wooden Soldiers. At first, I was utterly engaged: I was thrilled to see Red Riding Hood back, but that thrilled quickly soured as I picked up on various clues even before her wrong and over-reaction to Boy Blue, though I admit to being concerned when she realizes she’ll be interrogated by none other than Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf. Spy or not, it would be traumatizing to be interrogated by the very person who murdered your grandmother and tried to eat you, so that was an understandable reaction, but of course, I didn’t trust her by this point, and I wasn’t supposed to.
The story unfolded from there, and I found my interest in the storyline actually waning. I’m not sure why. Was it the focus on Pinocchio? The inability to guess what the trio of henchmen were (I kept thinking three blind mice from the sunglasses, but I knew that was wrong) also impacted by interest, but in a negative way. By time things unfolded, and we learned the three henchmen were wooden soldiers (and really, I should’ve figured that out rather quickly, given the name of this story arc), that Red Riding Hood was indeed a spy but not the actual Red Riding Hood… my interest was pretty passive. It was easy to only read one issue per night, but I will say that may be due in part to the fact I knew this battle was taking place EARLY in the series. To date, the series is on issue 121 or thereabouts, which means I knew nothing HORRIBLE would really happen here… because there’s so much story left to tell. Of course, with a cast like this, I shouldn’t take anything for granted: after all, I was on the edge of my seat during Storybook Love, but it was a focused story on two characters who’d become my favorites. So while everything was interesting and fascinating here, I wasn’t emotionally invested overall.
That’s not to say there weren’t some moments: the goblin and the troll betting over who would get the most heads? Priceless! Snow’s reaction to Bigby returning? I loved that so much I just kept staring at the panel (this being the scene the actual statue is based off of, which now has new meaning and kind of makes me want it). The revelation of who the Red Riding Hood imposter REALLY was? Also very interesting, especially when we see her against the Hansel & Gretel Old Witch and we learn how the magic is powered. And while I have no attachment (har-har) to Pinocchio, I was sorry to see his fate, though very interested to see what happens next now that he’s wood. And of course, the very last panel. I can’t wait to see what happens when Snow White has her litter.
Also, current theory for the Adversary: Pinocchio’s father, Geppetto. He thinks his father is being held captive and forced to create these soldiers, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the father was actually the Adversary.
The Art: My least favorite artist, Buckingham, did March of the Wooden Soldiers, and the introduction implied to me that he’s essentially the head artist from here on out. Which doesn’t thrill me, because I don’t like how he renders Snow and Bigby, but he does have his moments (the aforementioned panel). Everything else looks like fine, which is rather frustrating, because I wish I didn’t have other artists drawing this series to compare to, but I do, so there. I do think there’s an improvement in Buckingham’s work in this hardcover, so we’ll see how that goes as the series progresses.
My Rating: 7 – Good Read
Overall, an epic story arc with some solid moments, but depending on how your favorite characters are, you may or may not be as emotionally invested. I’m finally starting to play “Who’s the Adversary?” and trying to figure out who the enemy really is, and that’s engaging. The very last panel had me quick excited to keep reading, so it’s going to be torture when I run out of issues, but so far, I’m very invested in this series, even if this particular installment didn’t have me at the edge of my seat.
Cover Commentary: Um, spoiler alert? The good news is that because there’s been a number of artists drawing these characters, it’s not always obvious who’s who. And they’re staying consistent with the design, which thrills me. These hardcovers are just so pretty to look at!