Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham, Craig Hamilton, Jim Fern, Ray Snyder, and Mark Farmer
Familiar to comics readers and especially to prior fans of the Fables series, the art is crisp, expressive, and pretty.
At long last! The long-awaited original FABLES: WEREWOLVES OF THE HEARTLAND graphic novel is here!
Bigby Wolf embarks on a quest through the American Heartland to find a new location for Fabletown, a secret society of exiled fairy tale characters living among the “mundys.” In his wanderings, Bigby stumbles across Story City, a small town that seems to be occupied solely by werewolves. Oddly enough, they seem to already know and revere Bigby, but at the same time they’ve captured and caged him.
FABLES: WEREWOLVES OF THE HEARTLAND tells an epic tale that began well before Bigby Wolf set foot in the bucolic plains of the Midwest. It began long ago when he served in World War II and became mired in a Nazi experiment that would change nations. It’s soon evident that murder in Story City is the least of their sins, and unraveling the town’s many mysteries may cost Bigby, the seventh son of the North Wind, much more than his own life.
This, and 1001 Nights of Snowfall, are technically standalones that are related to the Fables series, but you’ll get more out of them if you read the whole series. You should read the whole series.
I love the Fables series, which combines creative retellings of fairy tales with a noir-ish, comics-for-grownups sensibility. Although this is not my favorite volume (that honor belongs to 1001 Nights of Snowfall), I still liked it quite a lot, with a few reservations.
Fairy Tales! This volume doesn’t follow the storyline of a particular tale (or at least not one I recognized), but Fables is all about fairy tale characters.
Damsel in Distress. So, Fables has generally been very cool about not following stereotypical roles, gender or otherwise; I was therefore very disappointed to see that in a lot of ways this is a cliched damsel-in-distress story. I guess it was sort of telegraphed by the cover art.
Genetics. There was also a confusing subplot with a kind of eugenics. It’s presented as a bad thing, but the story seems to conclude that for some people, genetics are destiny, that they can’t escape their nature. So…huh?
As mentioned above, the story is not the most creative one in the Fables universe, but it is still entertaining. Despite the subtle messages that I didn’t like, I can still enjoy the book for two reasons: 1) Fables in general is so good, even with these same issues, which leads me to point 2) I think that Bigby was meant to be an unreliable narrator to some extent. That’s fine, I like unreliable narrators, but I guess because I know from the main series that Bigby’s a good guy (mostly) and pretty savvy that I was having trouble swallowing it. And yeah, I can see where a town full of all werewolves is a bad idea, but it still sort of came off as being unable to escape their essential nature. Like I said, I liked it–but it doesn’t rival the main storyline and especially not 1001 Nights in my heart.
I received a free digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.