Bill Willingham – Fables, Vol 12: The Dark Ages
108. The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross, Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, David Hahn (2009)
Fables, Volume 12 (Issues #76-82 of the original comic)
|0. 1001 Nights of Snowfall
1. Legends in Exile
2. Animal Farm
3. Storybook Love
4. March of the Wooden Soldiers
5. The Mean Seasons
7. Arabian Nights (and Days)
9. Sons of Empire
10. The Good Prince
11. War and Pieces
Length: 192 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy
Started: 04 September 2009
Finished: 04 September 2009
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Holy crap, has it really been since *January* since I’ve had new Fables to read? It was about time for another fix.
Little Boy Blue, come
blow your… Oh. Oh wait. Well, that’s
Summary: The Dark Ages is very much a transitional volume, both for the characters and for the series itself. The war is over, the Adversary is defeated, and everyone must deal with the fallout. In the first story, “Around the Town”, the Adversary is having some problems readjusting to life in Fabletown, and many of the other Fables aren’t ready to forgive and forget, general amnesty or no. In the main story arc, “The Dark Ages”, we start to find out that defeating the Adversary may have caused just as many problems as it solved. Specifically, powerful forces that were kept in check during the Empire’s reign are now loosed upon the worlds, and one of them is unravelling the magics that keep Fabletown together. Meanwhile, Boy Blue, erstwhile war hero, is still hospitalized when a war injury refuses to heal. Finally, in “Return to the Jungle Book”, we find out about Mowgli’s trip (with Bigby’s brothers in tow) to see if his homeland can be recolonized.
Review: I’ve got mixed feelings about this volume. On the on hand, it was fantastic to get back into the Fables universe. Eight months is too long to go with no Fables, and Jack of Fables doesn’t quite fill the gap. Seriously, every time another familiar character showed up, I gave a little internal cheer… which was about the only cheering I was doing, because holy yikes, the main story arc in this one is sad… and dark. It didn’t quite make me sniffly the way Mean Seasons or The Good Prince did, but Willingham’s certainly not pulling any punches with terrible things happening to favorite characters, either.
On the other hand, though, it was a transitional volume, setting up the next big story arc, and as such it was a little unsatisfying, with plenty of little snippets of what’s coming but nothing it felt like I could really sink my teeth into. Plus, I feel like if you’re going to do another Big Bad, he needs to be worse than the previous Big Bad… and while Mister Dark is thoroughly creepy, I’m not yet convinced he’s that powerful. Hopefully that’s still coming, though – you don’t want your bad guy to show all his cards at the beginning. So, while not the series at its best, even a so-so Fables is still a compelling read, and I’m still looking forward to seeing what comes next. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: For folks like me who’ve been jonesing for another Fables hit, this one isn’t completely satisfying but is enough to tide you over. For those who have taken a bit of a break after the main storyline wrapped up in War and Pieces, though, that’s a good place to stop and wait for this new story to build up some steam.
Other Reviews: Casual Dread
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First Line: “Ready to go, pops?”
Cover Thoughts: Definitely in the upper ranks of my favorite Fables covers, although I don’t think it’s number one. I don’t entirely understand all of the little toys/icons around the pair, but the rest of the image is very striking, and sets an appropriately somber mood.