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Bill Willingham: Fables Vol. 21 & 22

January 12, 2016

57 & 58. Vol. 21: Happily Ever After and Vol. 22: Farewell by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andrew Pepoy (2015)
Fables, Volume 21 and 22

Length: 200 & 160 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novels

Started/Finished: 30 and 31 August 2015

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Fables were my first real graphic novels, so I had to see it through to the end.

Sibling rivalry
is one thing, but fighting to
the death is not cool.

Summary: As Fables draws to its end, both Rose Red and Snow White are accumulating power – both magical and political – faster than ever. And they’re going to need it, because Bigby’s back… but not quite all of him. He’s been reassembled (after having been turned to glass and shattered) but there’s one crucial piece that’s missing, and it’s left him as little more than a savage monster, controlled by the malicious hands that wield his missing piece. But the confrontation with Bigby isn’t the biggest fight that’s coming the Fables’ way, as Rose learns when she finds out a little more about her family history, and just why her and Snow have always had the worst sibling rivalry imaginable.

In the final volume, the final battle to determine the winner of the magical Tontine between Rose Red and Snow White goes down, for once and for all. Both volumes also contain a number of “The Last _______ Story” featuring Fables from across the series who don’t play a major role in the main sequence storyline. In Vol. 21 they’re mostly short, 2-3 pages at most; in Vol. 22 they’re mostly a bit longer, and largely feature less-central characters.

Review: Fables, Vol. 1 is the book that got me started reading graphic novels in the first place, so I have a lot of reasons to love this series, and I’m so pleased that it ended on a good, satisfying note…. and a note that is satisfying by really going back to the heart of the story since the beginning: Snow White and her relationships with Rose and with Bigby. I thought the story of the tontine (an investment scheme in which the last surviving investor claims everything) that’s at the heart of the last two volumes was really well done, and I didn’t see the resolution coming until it happened, although I feel like I should have. So that part was all really good. However, the less-good parts of this volume are mostly related to things that have come before it in the series. The first is maybe more of a quibble than anything else, but I vaguely remember that Fables can’t really die, not really, as long as the Mundys are telling their stories? But there are a LOT of deaths in Vol. 21, and it seemed like they’ve sort of forgotten that part (or it’s equally likely that I’m misremembering.) The second issue I had with these volumes is the “The Last _____ Story” arcs. Because most of the major players are involved in the main storyline, the Last Stories are mostly for minor characters. Some of these are great (Babe the Blue Ox!) and some were about characters that I didn’t really remember, or care about, or that were mostly introduced during the Fables “slump” of Vol. 16-18 and so I didn’t remember their history or significance. I understand why they included these – saying goodbye to a universe the size of Fables has to be extremely difficult – and I went along with them, but for the most part I found them more distracting than sentimental. 4 out of 5 stars for Vol. 21 and 3.5 out of 5 stars for Vol. 22, largely based on the relative proportions of Last Stories in each.

Recommendation: If you’ve read this far in the series, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading!

Vol. 21: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon
Vol. 22: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Book Banter (21), Book Banter (22), Beth Fish Reads, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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