Jack of Fables 7: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack – Bill Willingham

Jack 07
This is another excellent tale that goes to show not all stories are predictable. Most of the book features Jack’s son who is shaping up to be an interesting fellow. Jack himself is preoccupied with another imaginative problem. The book is subtle and straightforward with a very limited cast which makes a big change from The Great Crossover Event and a nice way to wind down from such epic adventure.

The art is great and the new artists do a superb job. The layout is imaginative and dynamic when it needs to be but not afraid to be traditional. Willingham also finds a way to include the artist change in the story as he did previously. It’s these unusual touches that really set Fables apart from other narratives which is what you want in a story about stories.

Thumbs Up!

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Jack of Fables 6: The Big Book of War – Bill Willingham

Jack 06
This is another great volume as Willingham is really good at writing battle scenes. This book sees the confrontation between Revise and the Book-burner and just like the battle with the Adversary this is not a straightforward fight. There are also some revelations about Jack’s ancestry which seem less successful.

The art is good with Tony Akins doing pencils throughout. There seem to be a lot more square panels and straight edges than you are used to which is unusual for a frenzied battle-scene.

This is the book that precedes The Great Fables Crossover.

Thumbs Up!

Jack of Fables 5: Turning Pages – Bill Willingham

Jack 05This is a superb return to form after the doldrums of the last volume. We have two three issue stories, both of which are excellent.

The first concerns Jack’s history in the Wild West and his confrontation with Bigby that started their feud. Unusually this volume is played as a straight western and works surprisingly well. The artificially injected humour with the blue ox really falls flat and feels out of place.

Then we have three issues concerning the Page sisters (one each) in which we learn more about them. This volume also moves the present day timeline forward and we build up for a giant and exciting battle next time.

The art is great. Each story has a separate artist who sticks with it for all parts. The Wild West setting provides strong landscapes and interesting period/ flashback techniques. The Page trilogy is more straightforward but with no less detail and energy.

Double Thumbs Up!

Jack of Fables 4: Americana – Bill Willingham

Jack 04
This is actually quite a weak volume. It is just a parade of characters who did and didn’t make it into the Great American Novel. Very few of whom have anything to say. There is some good interplay between Jack and Hillary Page and we do find out what the superglue is for.

The art and in particular the colours are superb. There are few to no blank backgrounds and the characters are wonderfully expressive. It is only this visual consistency that saves the series dipping below the excellence of the main Fables line.

Thumbs Up, but it was close.

Jack of Fables 3: The Bad Prince – Bill Willingham

Jack 03The thinking reader’s Deadpool returns for more tricks and japes. You wouldn’t consider Willingham could find so many Jacks in literature but he does and makes them all entertaining. The main story continues with Jack and PF on the run. We also get a standalone issue for Halloween revealing his Jack ’o Lantern days.

The art is superb and despite having at least three pencillers the continuity of style is faultless. The Bolland covers are also magnificent.

Thumbs Up!

Jack of Fables 2: Jack of Hearts – Bill Willingham

Jack 02The excellent writing continues and we have a two issue and a four issue story that shows off just how interesting a shallow and slightly dim character like Jack, and his faithful sidekick, can be.

The art is great and despite having seven different people on the art team, in addition to the letterer and two writers, things remain remarkably coherent.

Thumbs Up!

Jack of Fables 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape – Bill Willingham

Jack 01You might not think Jack could support his own series, especially one stretching nearly a dozen volumes. But he is the right combination of shallow and stupid to be entertaining. Maybe like Deadpool without the swearing.

This could have been done within the main Fables series and is up to the same high standard but there is so much packed in here it would have bogged everything down horribly. Jack as a character and his action-adventure is definitely enough to hold his own.

The art is great, and despite having a different artist (no Mark Buckingham) the style is very much true to the original. The layouts and framing are top notch stuff with plenty of bold choices delivering great impact. Even printed on the standard matt newsprint of most Vertigo books the colours can be incredibly vivid and really add to the fantastic nature of the Fableverse.

A surprising Thumbs Up!

Fables (21): Happily Ever After – Bill Willingham

Fables 21This is a nine chapter volume that alternates between Fabletown and mini stories elsewhere. As Willingham specialises in battles he has sown the seeds of his final conflict early and tension is rising to fever pitch. Each chapter is marked “the Last Tale of…” so you know things are bad.

Unlike previous battles this will be character against beloved character so no matter who wins we lose. The true story behind Snow and Red is revealed and there can be only one. The book delivers everything a penultimate part should with gusto.

This book has more artists than ever before. Most of the names like Akins and McManus are regulars but Nimit Malavia delivers a superb Noir style meeting between two characters. Nothing disappoints.

There are some great reveals, clever references and fourth wall pokes that combine to make this a Double Thumbs UP!!

Fables (20): Camelot – Bill Willingham

Fables 20This is a meaty volume comprising ten issues of story. We flit all over the place from Geppetto’s machinations to Junebug’s discovery in the cellars of Fabletown. You will be glad there is the cast list in the front to remind you who everyone is. Most of the stories are strong and the single issues set up plot points for the future. The two issue “Boys in the Band” at the end might build to something in the future but seems flat.

The art appears strong and consistent but there are a bevy of artists at work (great to see Gary Erskine at work), particularly in the sub plots. It looks like Vertigo have upgraded their something as the pages appear much more vibrant despite the matt paper.

Thumbs Up!

Fables (19): Snow White – Bill Willingham

Fables 19The first part of this volume ties up what has been happening in Oz. It has a different artist with a not unpleasing style. There is nothing wrong with the story and it certainly has some quirky characters but is nothing special.

The next part concerns someone from Snow White’s past and is a real shocker. It subtly explores sexism and domestic violence and certainly has a gut-punch of an ending. Sadly the constant narration is more annoying than atmospheric.

There are three artists at work on this story and much of it appears soft and lacking in detail.

Thumbs Up!