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Bill Willingham – Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland

February 22, 2013

9. Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham, Jim Fern, Ray Snyder, Mark Farmer (2012)
Fables, companion

Length: 152 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started/Finished: 12 February 2013

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New Fables!

Does a town full of
werewolves have a hospital
or a vet clinic?

Summary: Bigby Wolf has ventured away from New York to search for a new location for Fabletown, given that Mr. Dark has destroyed the original. When he runs across a sign for a town named “Story City”, and scents something strange on the wind, he can’t help but investigate. What he finds there is an old friend – and some old enemies – in an entire town that is populated by werewolves. Bigby, the archetype of the werewolf, is welcomed to town as a god, but he soon finds out that he’s stepped into the middle of a complex web of factions and alliances that permeate the town… and that his presence among them might be the spark that ignites a deadly conflict.

Review: I wanted to like this one more than I did. I love Fables, Bigby is one of my favorite characters, and the idea of an isolated midwestern town full of werewolves sounded promising. But I couldn’t get into it, for a variety of reasons. First of all, the artwork did not work for me. I don’t know that I could have articulated this prior to reading this version, but one of the things that I like about Bigby is that when he wolves out, he actually *wolves* out. Werewolves that turn into actual wolves appeal to me more than werewolves that turn into half-men/half-wolf; I’ve yet to see the a version of the bipedal form of werewolf in which its posture and movements look menacing rather than just plain awkward.

I also had a hard time keeping all of the new characters straight, not to mention all of their various factions and alliances and schemes. Everything just seemed more convoluted and complex than it needed to be for a relatively short stand-alone piece, which made it hard for me to latch on to any single piece of the drama, other than sitting back and going “oooh, explosions!”. As a consequence, I enjoyed the scenes with Bigby in them, where he gets to town and is processing what’s going on, more than I enjoyed the backstory of what *is* going on in the town, and much more than the many pages of fight scenes. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It’s Fables, and it’s Willingham, so it’s not terrible, or even bad, but it’s also not one of the stronger entries in the series. Long-time fans will probably want to pick it up, but I think newcomers should start with one of the other books to really get a feel for what this series can do at its best.

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First Line: “Oda. Why are we meeting out here?”

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2013 2:12 pm

    Do you think the series is starting to wind down? Sounds like maybe it is.

    • February 23, 2013 2:23 pm

      C.B. – I don’t know, the main series still feels like it’s only partway through its arc. This is a tangential volume, though, so I’d be better able to judge once I get my hands on the new main-series volume.

  2. February 22, 2013 5:59 pm

    Hmm…I thought I was up to date with Fables, but I seem to have missed this one. I may need to discuss this with my friend who loans me Fables installments…

    • February 23, 2013 2:24 pm

      Cheryl – I was a little confused too when I got this out of the library, but because it’s a side story, you probably are up to date on the main series.

  3. sunshineread permalink
    March 9, 2013 7:43 pm

    Hi!What caught my attention was the cover, that I know from the work of Dan dos Santos,and is phenomenal, I saw it was a graphic novel that I adore.
    But your opinion gave me to understand that there is another book before, and I now I’m curious!!

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