Tag Archive: Willingham; Bill

Feb 13

Review: Cindrella: Fables Are Forever by Bill Willingham, et al.

Cinderella - Fables Are Forever

Okay, this is the cover art to Cinderela: Fables are Forever. This is the second in a graphic novel spinoff from Fables, and it follows Cinderella, supers spy extraordinaire as she goes on a quest to find an old nemesis. Back in the day, when the Russian fables fled the Homelands, Cinderella went undercover to try to find out where they were hiding. Along the way, though, she ran into Dorothy Gale (of Oz fame) and the two became fast enemies. So the story follows Cinderella, tracking down an old enemy she thought was dead, trying to get to her before everything goes to hell too much.

First things first, let’s talk about this cover.

Really

This cover is problematic. If you’ve ever been to Russia, it’s cold. It was cold in May when I was there. I can’t imagine trying to do super spy type things in the middle of winter at a chateau wearing what she’s wearing on the cover. There’s nowhere for her to keep that gun. And it just seems like its meant to titillate the adolescent male audience for this graphic novel.  And the subsequent bra-and-underwear fight between Dorothy and Cinderella in the first issue just left my eyes rolling. I’d reuse the really gif, but I just used it, and I think you know where I stand. These stories are better than this sort of pandering.

And I did appreciate that this Fables involved Russian and East Asian characters that I was only dimly aware of. Anything that can expand my knowledge is always appreciated. Further, when they go to Africa and meet Anansi, it was interesting to see him displayed as a local crime baron who always gets his way due to clever planning and traps. I’m a sucker for an updated myth, what can I say?

But this story didn’t really come together for me. Maybe it was the over-reliance on flashbacks. Maybe it was that the stakes weren’t high enough. Maybe it was because it seemed so episodic with every other scene taking place not only in a new location but with an entirely new set of characters. Maybe it was that Dorothy Gale as psychopath for hire didn’t ring true or plausible. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t clicking with me.

But, that’s the thing about the Fables universe. It’s kind of like sex and cake: even the worst sex and/or cake is better than none at all. And so it is with Cinderella: Fables Are Forever.

JMF Rating: 5.5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Jan 20

Review: Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham, et al.

Jack of Hearts

It’s been eleven hundred years since I read the first Jack of Fables collection, but I remember enjoying it immensely. So when I got this recently, I tore through it. After all, I love a good graphic novel collection: easy to read, engaging stories, and usually fast-paced enough to finish in a single sitting.

The series is a spinoff of the Fables series (which is fantastic and wonderful and you should already be reading). It follows the character of Jack, a living embodiment of all of the fables, stories, and myths that have ever had a character named Jack in them. Because of his enduring fame throughout the mortal realm, he remains hail, vital, and powerful. But he’s an amoral guy, more willing to do good for himself or others when convenient than to get involved in ideas of nobility. He can be man-whorish (or as Dale’s book would say, filled with a demon of whoredom), crass, and hardhearted. But he’s the kind of bad person that makes a great good guy.

And that’s what really makes the stories work: Jack does bad things and is often (though not always) the cause of the problems that he encounters. But he’s so rakishly charming, that he gets all the chances.

Oh, and then there’s Gary, The Pathetic Fallacy. Since he’s the embodiment of a storytelling trope, he can make any inanimate object do whatever he wants. So he’s useful in a pinch, and he’s a walking deus ex machina. But the whole series acknowledges that fact, so it’s kinda meta. I don’t know; I like it.

This particular collection contains two story arcs from the series. The first follows Jack and some other fables who have escaped from the Golden Boughs Retirement Village. While hiding out on a mountain, Jack reveals the period in his life when he took over the mantle of winter and became Jack Frost. Cute little story of castle intrigue and power going to one’s head, but not super memorable.

The bulk of the collection, though, follows Jack and Gary as Jack decides to take over a casino in Las Vegas. But, he ends up falling in love with the daughter of the casino owner. But then all the drama goes down. Because there are evil Belgians after the casino family. Right, Belgians. They’re not just for waffles anymore. I imagine that all Belgian gangsters are just like the people from the movie In Bruges because that’s the only time I think I’ve ever seen Belgium and gangsters in the same plot.

Except going to, they actually do.

Except going to, they actually do.

Yeah, the Belgians kill Jack’s wife and her family, so he ends up inhering the hotel. But then he manages to piss off Lady Luck (the physical embodiment of luck, not the idea). Which is not a great idea. Because she kills lucky gamblers in Las Vegas and sucks the extra luckiness out of their bones to keep herself juiced. Which is gross. And when you’re running a casino, it’s no good when the luck goddess is literally against you.

Without ruining it, suffice it to say that Jack gets away, but he gets away penniless (which I seem to recall is how he gets away in the first collection). He’s very easy won, easy lost.

Overall, the collection was fun, but it had kind of a popcorn feel: delicious and crave-able, but you hope something more substantial is coming along soon.

JMF Rating: 6.5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF