05 February 2015

Review: Fables 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham

Fables 15: Rose Red by Bill WillinghamIt's my understanding that the long-running Fables series, by Bill Willingham and his team of artists, is coming to an end this spring with two final books: number 21 in April and number 22 in June. I've loved most of the main story arcs, and I'll be sad to say good-bye to my friends in Fabletown.

Of course, there are several spin-off books and series. I've already read the Jack of Fables books, but I still have the Cinderella books, a Bigby book, and the Fairest series to look forward to.

The title of volume 15 is Red Rose, and the collected issues focus on two main story lines plus a number of extras. As always, I'll avoid spoilers for this volume, but I can't help but reveal what's happened earlier in the series.

Rose Red and Snow White: The first part of the book includes tales of Rose and Snow's childhood and how they ended up on separate paths. We also learn the true story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (hint: those dwarves weren't really all that nice) and how she met her prince. I really enjoyed this story arc and especially loved the panels that showed the two as little girls (see scan).

Frau Totenkinder / Bellfower: The second part of the book focuses on Totenkinder, now transformed and calling herself Bellflower. This section moves at a swift pace, as the powerful witch tries her hand at both defeating Mister Dark and finding a new life. Lots of action and unexpected twists; you'll have to read the book to see if she succeeded in either quest.

(c) Bill WillinghamExtras: The final part of volume 15 consists of some short pieces featuring Thumbelina, the Three Blind Mice, and Pinocchio. Although the Pinocchio story ended on an intriguing note, I didn't love this part of the book.

The Art: The Rose Red chapters were penciled by Mark Buckingham and Inked by Steve Leialoha and others. The colors are vibrant and the facial expressions and body postures are lifelike and convey so much more than just the words do. Buckingham and Leialoha were responsible for much of the Totenkinder chapters, and the details and darkness of those panels enhance the story perfectly.

I was less taken by the art in the short stories: the color range in the Thumbelina panels is primarily limited to greens and browns, and I found the lack of detail in the drawings to be disconcerting after the richness of the earlier stories. The art for the Mice adventure has a smudgey appearance, which felt like a good fit.

Recommendation: Rose Red renewed my interest in the Fables series, which was waning after the Jack books and the Great Crossover volume. The endings of the stories included in volume 15 promise changes--some that will have broad repercussions on all the Fables and some that will affect just a few characters on a more personal level. I rate Rose Red as one of my favorite issues.

Published by DC Comics / Vertigo, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781401230005
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 2/5/15, 11:45 AM  

I must try to find these! The illustrations look wonderful!

Kailana 2/5/15, 4:22 PM  

I am glad I am not the only one that just doesn't love Jack... There is a least one Volume in your future that I just didn't love, but otherwise the later books are good. :)

Tif Sweeney 2/5/15, 6:36 PM  

Rose Red is one of my favorites too! It will be so sad when I have no more Fables to read. Though I would re-read them because I love them that much!!

Belle Wong 2/6/15, 2:20 AM  

I am just starting on volume 3! I have so much to look forward to.

Melissa Hall 2/6/15, 2:32 PM  

I'm with Belle, just starting Volume 3, but I love it so far!

Lindsay 2/9/15, 12:10 PM  

I'm really new to graphic novels, only read a few so far but enjoyed them all! I've ordered Fables 1 from the library, excited to try it!

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