16 June 2011

Review: The Mean Seasons (Fables 5) by Bill Willingham

As always when I review a book in a series, I reveal no spoilers for this novel but I assume you've read the earlier titles.

Bill Willingham's Fables 5: The Mean Seasons focuses mostly on Bigby Wolf. In several short stories, we learn of his work to protect Fabletown from the enemy who drove the characters out of their homeland. We also read of Bigby's activities during World War II. The principal episode in Fables 5, however, is a more personal look at Bigby and Snow White.

Between Fabletown's mayoral election and political upheaval and Snow White's going into labor, Bigby has a lot on his mind. He is about to become a father for the first time (that he knows about!) and meanwhile must work with Beast (as in Beauty and) to make sure the post-election administration team can handle their new duties.

When Snow's babies turn out to be a mix of human and wolf, she realizes she must move to the Farm, where animal fable characters live away from the prying eyes of the Mundies (humans). The only problem is that Bigby's been banned from the Farm. Fortunately for Snow, she finds much help and support in her new home--some from a surprising source. She also learns a little bit about Bigby's childhood.

Each entry in the Fables series gets more complex and imaginative. Willingham's fairytale creatures are based on the stories you remember but are also much more than that. They've had centuries of experiences since the events that made them household names. They've changed, they've grown, and they are not necessarily what they seem. Throughout these very adult graphic novels, Willingham peppers the violence and harsh realities of Fabletown with humor, both verbal and visual.

In the scan shown here (click to enlarge) Snow is talking to her sister, Rose Red, about Bigby.

Fables 5: The Mean Seasons was drawn by a team of artists: Mark Buckingham, Tony Akins, Steve Leialoha, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, and Todd Klein. The characters are consistently portrayed and their emotions and action are clearly presented. Many panels have fascinating details, and readers will linger over the illustrations.

Give it to me quickly: Some of Bigby's past is revealed in this entry in the Fables series, which is an adult look at how familiar fairy tale characters cope with the modern world and troubles from their past.

Published by DC Comics / Vertigo, 2005
ISBN-13: 9781401204860
YTD: 56
Source: bought (see review policy).
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


dog eared copy 6/16/11, 9:26 AM  

I love the Fables graphic novels! I wanted to add that if you're considering reading the novel PETER & MAX (by Bill WIllingham,) you should do so *after* reading Fables #5. PETER & MAX contains spoilers to THE MEAN SEASON :-/

Lynne Perednia 6/16/11, 9:35 AM  

What a wonderful series. You're right about how Fables gets more complex and better as it continues. Thanks for the reminder to get back to reading these tales!

Zibilee 6/16/11, 10:58 AM  

This does sound like an interesting and offbeat series that I think I would love. Even though I have not read any of the other books, I was hooked on your synopsis of this one. Great review, and glad you liked it!

Marg 6/16/11, 5:07 PM  

I want to read these books, but they are not easily accessible here!

bermudaonion 6/16/11, 6:09 PM  

I'm not sure this series is for me, but I have a feeling Vance would like it. I'll have to share your review with him.

Andi 6/16/11, 7:14 PM  

LOVE this series! Although, I realized just how far behind I am when I browsed at my bookstore this weekend. I stopped on #7 or so when I wrote my masters thesis and I haven't read any installments since. Eeek!

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