Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: Fables #12: The Dark Ages

Title: Fables #12: The Dark Ages
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross, Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, David Hahn
Genre: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Published: August 2009
Collects Issues: 76 - 82
Pages: 192
Rating: 9 / 10
Challenges: Graphic Novels Challenge, A to Z Reading Challenge
Awards: Fables has won 12 Eisner Awards so far

Synopsis (from the back cover):
The great war between Fabletown and the mighty empire of the Adversary is over, and the victorious free Fables have brought their defeated enemy back from the Homelands to join them in exile. Their celebrations, however, are destined to be short-lived. As it turns out, not even beloved storybook heroes can escape the law of unintended consequences. In the post-war chaos of the Adversary's former realm, a terrible force is about to be unleashed - an evil that threatens not just Fabletown but the entire mundane world.
My review: I was a bit worried about how Willingham et al would keep the Fables story going after ending the big bad war in War and Pieces. My fears turned out to be completely unjustified, as this was an amazing (albeit sad) book and perfectly set up the next great arc in the Fables saga.

Fair warning: SPOILERS to follow. I'll try not to give away the big ones, though.

The book opens with Geppetto being escorted around Fabletown by Pinocchio, who's trying to get him adjusted to life after ruling the Empire. Not everyone is happy with the newest Fabletown resident, but I thought it was interesting to hear Geppetto's side of the story. He believed he was acting for the greater good, so sacrificing a few thousand lives was worth it, because in the long run he saved billions, or so he claims... Now that the Fables have taken him out of power, he believes the other worlds will suffer even more.

Geppetto's warnings seem to have merit, though, as back in a recently-freed-from-the-Emperor-land a pair of marauders unknowingly release a very powerful new enemy. This new adversary wants revenge on the Fables for taking away his magic and using it themselves, and he means business. The Fables are forced to evacuate The Woodland and move upstate to the Farm after the magic spells holding their community together begin to crumble. Baba Yaga comes back, and although she didn't get to do much in this book I'm curious to see what havoc she'll wreck in the next one. Even Frau Totenkinder is scared!

The main purpose of this book seemed to be setting up the new big bad and the next event in the Fables series: The Great Fables Crossover (with Jack of Fables, an offshoot of this series that I also really enjoy)*. The other big part of the story was the death of a character (one of my personal favorites) that brought up questions of what happens to the Fables when they die. We've seen some come back (there are always three little pigs, for example, and Snow White managed to survive a gunshot to the head), so I'm hoping this character will reappear at some point, too. But it was still an emotional arc and really made me question just how great a surgeon Dr. Swineheart is. He seemed like a bit of a pompous jerk, actually, but that could've just been me projecting because of the way he was treating said beloved character.

There was also a smaller mini-story that dealt with Mowgli returning to a jungle world with Bigby's brothers that was a bit more light-hearted and I nice diversion from the darkness in the rest of the book. Oh, and Flycatcher's back! That was one of my grumbles with volume 11, so it was nice to have him back...even if he is still clueless about his relationship with Red Riding Hood.

If you've reviewed this book as well, leave a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

* I read Fables and Jack of Fables in trade format, so I haven't had a chance to read the crossover stuff yet. My friends who have read it were less than thrilled with the resolution, but I'm still looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it won't be out in trade format until NEXT FEBRUARY. Sigh.


The Reading Momster said...

I have not read any books in this series. But this sounds good.
I love the book cover :)

Unknown said...

I just read volume 9 and have 1001 Nights of Snowfall to read next. I am loving it so far and am looking forward to seeing what happens after the big war finally ends.

Beth F said...

I skipped the end of your review (thanks sooooooo much for the spoiler warning). I really, really need to read these. Everyone who reads GNs likes them.

Fyrefly said...

February? Gah! I only barely made it the seven months or so from War and Pieces to this one (which I read this weekend but haven't reviewed yet). Now I have to wait until February?! *grumblegrumble* :)

Zagato said...

Good, not great. It may be the lost of this special character that leaves a bitter after-taste that prevents from "loving" this one. How can they kill him? Why?