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Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland (Book) Review

 
Fables Werewolves of the Heartlands review featured 1
Fables Werewolves of the Heartlands review featured 1
Fables Werewolves of the Heartlands review featured 1

 
At a Glance...
 

Page Count: 148
 
Genre: , ,
 
Author:
 
Year Published:
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/ 5


User Rating
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We liked?


  • First graphic novel for the Fables series
  • Intriguing art style
  • Disarming setting

Not so much?


  • Middle part of the story is overly long
  • Flash back was too predictable


Final Fiendish Findings?

Even if you’re not familiar with the overall universe of Fables, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland is enough of an in that you shouldn’t be too concerned if you haven’t read the rest of the long running series or spin-offs like Jack of Fables.

0
Posted November 4, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

 

Before Grimm, before Once Upon a Time, there was Fables. And now this long running comic series from Vertigo and Bill Willingham finally gets its first graphic novel in Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland, which was originally announced back in 2009.

Fables is a comic series about the characters from fables and old  folklore having to live in our world after being forced out of their “Homelands” by an enemy force called “The Adversary”. The main part of the series follows characters like Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf), Snow White, Prince Charming and more as they try to eke out a life on the fringes of New York City in Fabletown. Werewolves of the Heartland follows Bigby Wolf, as he tries to find a new home for the residents of Fabletown.

I think the first thing that struck me about this graphic was the art style used. Between Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton, Ray Snyder and Mark Farmer – the book has ended up with an illustration quality that’s highly reminiscent of the etching style illustrations (more so than what you find in the regular Fables comics) you get in old books.

It’s also similar to much older comics, and I think this style-time dimension is like an attempt to hold this graphic up as a fable of Fables. The etching quality of art just adds to a feeling that you’re reading an old book of fairy tales that has been left in some nursery.

 

Not that this is a graphic for children. Apart from a liberal amount of nudity in the latter half of the graphic, Werewolves of the Heartland is a bloody, violent tale that easily emulates the primal nature of many of its characters and settings.

Part of the violence belongs to a long flashback to Bigby’s activities during World War II that are integral to the main story. Here, I found myself treading through perhaps – now – far too familiar territory. You’re greeted by yet another reinterpretation of the Nazis’ fumblings with the supernatural and attempts to build super soldiers. For me, this made the graphic’s prolonged flashback quite some work to get through.

It’s a trope that I don’t think Willingham needed to resort to in order to end up with all of the main players in the situation presented in the graphic’s present. But at least the present is interesting. Bigby walks into, somewhere in the sticks of the US, Story City – a place that is nothing like Fabletown, bar (as the title of the graphic would suggest) it’s filled with werewolves – creatures that aren’t really meant to exist even in Fabletown’s twist on things.

 

These are werewolves living everyday, normal lives – cut off from the rest of the world. Story City is a bit Stepford Wives, but with more claws, fur and teeth. You know straight from the beginning that the place is not as normal it seems, but I can’t shake the feeling that it would have been better if Willingham could have cut down on the novel’s second act and shown us more of the aftermath.

Instead we have a short lead-up, a dizzyingly long section filled with carnage, genitalia and little sign of what the repercussions will be for all the characters involved. While it is left open as to whether any of those left standing will cross Bigby’s path again, it’s taken more than three years for this graphic to be published – it was meant to have been released back in 2011. So I’m not holding out any hopes of finding out soon what the long lasting effects might be for Bigby, Story City’s residents and Fabletown.

Even if you’re not familiar with the overall universe of Fables, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland is enough of an in that you shouldn’t be too concerned if you haven’t read the rest of the long running series or spin-offs like Jack of Fables.

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartlands is out on November 14 in the US.


Emily King

 
Games, film and comics lover, I'm helping out with comics coverage here & I'm behind the Nerds Assemble podcast.