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Threebie: Graphic Novels Reviews: Fables 14, House of Mystery 5, and Chew 3

March 7, 2011

A little deviation from normal today; I’ve read a lot of graphic novels recently (love my library!), but they’re all installments in previously-established series, and I don’t have a ton to say about any of them. So, today y’all get a 3-for-1 quickie review post! Click on any of the series names to get to my reviews of the previous volumes.

28. Fables, Vol. 14: Witches by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, David Lapham, Jim Fern, Andrew Pepoy, and Craig Hamilton (2010)
Fables, Volume 14

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Started / Finished: 19 February 2011

Summary: In this installment of Fables, we start with a little bit of the backstory regarding this arc’s Big Bad, Mr. Dark. The main story, however, concerns the various witches of the Fables world. On the Farm, the former residents of the 13th floor are engaged in a bit of a power struggle over who will lead the Fable community through the coming battle. Meanwhile, in the newly cut-off business office, Baba Yaga is free from her confinement, and the only one who can stop her is Buffkin the flying monkey. Finally, there’s a two-part story about Ambrose’s attempts to maintain both peace and justice in his kingdom of Haven.

Review: Each of the elements of this volume was very enjoyable on its own, but they didn’t all connect to each other as well as they could have, and as a whole, it wound up feeling a little lighter and not as consequential as most of what’s come before. Maybe because there were so many elements, the storyline involving what’s happening to the main group of Fables felt like it was given somewhat short shrift. But overall, I thought Willingham did his usual nice job of providing information and backstory without giving too much away, and I was thrilled to get more Frau Totenkinder – she’s a fascinating character, and I’m a happy girl whenever she shows up. 4 out of 5 stars.

I’m here because all fables take place in the woods, King Cole, even those that don’t. –p. 58

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31. House of Mystery Vol. 5: Under New Management by Matthew Sturges, Luca Rossi, José Marzan, Jr. (2011)
House of Mystery, Volume 5

Length: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Started / Finished: 24 February 2011

Summary and Review: Okay, that’s it. I’m out. I said that after the last volume, but this time I mean it. This series started out with such great potential, but it’s been going downhill ever since. Now to bring in a nasty, psychopathic brother to the main character, who’s all “Oh, I’ve always had a brother, I just never told you you about him ANYWHERE IN THE 4 PREVIOUS VOLUMES because I made myself forget about him when we were little. Yeah, that’s it!” All of that, on top of a volume without any other discernible plot? That’ll just about do it for me. I did enjoy some of the stand-alone stories, as well as the issue at the end of this collection, which features brief appearances by several additional characters from the Dreaming other than Cain & Abel (and Goldie! Hi, Goldie!). But if the only reason I keep reading the House of Mystery volumes is to see familiar characters, I’d be better served just going back and re-reading Sandman. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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35. Chew, Vol. 3: Just Desserts by John Layman & Rob Guillory (2010)
Chew, Volume 3

Length: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Started / Finished: 03 March 2011

Summary and Review: Volume 3 of this series spends a fair amount of time diving into the backstory of Tony Chu, the detective that can receive psychic visions of the life of the things he eats… things that, in his line of work, include the corpses of murder victims. We also get some hints that Mason Savoy, Tony’s former partner and fellow cibopath, is not only not out of the game, but also is wrapped up in some very shady dealings involving chicken-frog hybrids designed to get around the bird-flu-inspired poultry ban. This series as a whole is a) thoroughly bizarre and b) frenetically scattered, so saying that this volume didn’t quite have a direct narrative arc to it is pretty redundant. It seemed to be split about 50/50 between Tony’s personal life and history, and his job and the series-long conspiracy plot that’s on a slow boil. However, the bouncing back and forth between the two meant that nothing was ever fully addressed or dealt with satisfactorily. On the other hands, it was still a fun (if gross, morbid, and seriously strange) read, and since this is only 1/4 of the way through this comic’s planned run, I shouldn’t be too surprised that we’re still getting more questions than answers. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2011 3:56 pm

    Oh my, Chew sounds a little too creepy for me.

    • March 14, 2011 10:05 am

      bermudaonion – It is not for the easily-grossed-out, for sure.

  2. March 7, 2011 6:33 pm

    Regarding Fables, I felt anything had to be an improvement on the aberration that was The Great Fables Crossover and I appreciated getting back to the main story arc. The whole thing was worth it for the cliffhanger ending.

    • March 14, 2011 10:06 am

      Elfy – Oh, see, the Literals were my favorite part of Jack of Fables, so I thought the crossover was just fine. From a straight-up diet of Fables, though, I can see how it wouldn’t be so satisfying.

  3. March 7, 2011 6:38 pm

    I like Frau Totenkinder too, but I deeply disliked Mr. Dark when he first showed up and I haven’t read any further in the Fables series. I’m kind of waiting to see how the next set of long-term story arcs plays out, and then I’ll carry on.

    • March 14, 2011 10:07 am

      Jenny – I’m not crazy about Mr. Dark, either, but the little bit of his backstory in this issue was intriguing.

  4. March 7, 2011 10:55 pm

    That’s funny, I just finished Fables: Witches about three days ago. Enjoyable, but not one of the stronger volumes. It was cool Ozma showed up, although I don’t understand why she was blonde…I had to go check the illustrations in my Oz books, definitely dark hair.

    Love that quote about the woods!

    • March 14, 2011 10:08 am

      cheryl – I’ve only read the first Oz book, and that was probably 20 years ago if not more, so I didn’t notice anything out of place with a little blonde girl. :)

  5. March 8, 2011 7:26 pm

    Thanks for reminding me about Fables. I was reading the series a lot last year, but sort of got stalled out sometime. I’ll have to start requesting them from the library again.

    • March 14, 2011 10:10 am

      Kim – Actually, it’s probably better to read several issues at a go… I’m caught up now so that I’m reading them as they come out, and I’m pretty sure I’m losing some of the details in the intervening months.

  6. March 9, 2011 3:17 am

    I agree with you about Witches, though as a whole I enjoyed it a lot more than the previous two volumes. Like Jenny, I’m a little sceptic of the story arc that has been developing since the Adversary’s defeat. I hope it will turn out to be awesome yet, but so far I don’t think it has found its footing yet.

    • March 14, 2011 10:11 am

      Nymeth – Agreed, the Mr. Dark storyline does have a little bit of a feeling of “Okay, the story arc we planned since the beginning is over… NOW what do we do?” But I’ve got faith, and at the least, they’re still entertaining.

  7. March 10, 2011 12:22 pm

    I really need to read more of Fables. I think I’ve only read the first one. I’m not sure why I never got back to them, I definitely enjoyed it.

    • March 14, 2011 10:12 am

      Carol – Oh, if you’ve only read the first one, you’ve got such wonderful things coming up! They really do get better as you go, especially over the first few volumes. I’m actually a little jealous that you get to read them all for the first time!

  8. March 12, 2011 11:02 pm

    FABLES!!!! I love love Fables!!!!

    • March 12, 2011 11:03 pm

      Although, I am worried about the direction the series is taking… Still, I am very loyal…

    • March 14, 2011 10:14 am

      Kailana – I’m not worried, exactly, since I don’t have a firm enough grasp on the new story arc to make predictions about where it’s going. Still, I trust Willingham & Co. to at least make it interesting, if maybe not quite up to the standards of the Adversary storyline.

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