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Fables Vol 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fables Vol 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers (2003) Bill Willingham

I’m reading this series slowly (or at least attempting to), because it’s not completed, and Book Six is not scheduled to come out until January 2006.

I really like the Fables series, and March of the Wooden Soldiers is good, although not quite as good as previous volumes. It starts with Boy Blue relating to Snow White the fall of the last stronghold in the Homeland, and the escape of the last group of fables. He also tells Snow White how he met and lost the love of his life, Red Riding Hood. The tale is interesting, and also a set-up for the rest of the story. Out of the North comes a fable who has escaped the Homelands, and she throws the already tumultuous Fabletown into an uproar. In the meantime, Prince Charming continues his run for the mayor for Fabletown.

I particularly enjoyed the opening story: the escape of the last Fables from the Homeland. Robin Hood was very well done, and I also came across a fable with which I was not familiar, Lady Britomart. I’ll have to look and see where I can find stories about her, although from a cursory search, she looks to be Celtic.

I quite liked is how he used Snow White’s pregnancy to show the passing of time. In past books they’ve used the weather and the seasons, but Snow White’s pregnancy made a far more obvious marker.

My primary complaint is, again, of the drawing of Bigby. I really dislike the way the current artist portrays him. I don’t know quite what changed, but I can’t stand the way his face is all mashed up, like there’s something missing. In earlier volumes he had a kind of rugged handsomeness to him, however now I find him just plain creepy.

It also felt like this story was a little rushed. There was a lot going on that was quickly glossed over that I thought deserved a little more attention. Rose Red comes down from the Farm and we don’t get even a small conversation with her sister. Considering their past and how they are trying to work things out, I found that frustrating. There were a couple of other similar instances, where characters appeared in earlier stories, but their relationships and stories were glossed over here. Not a huge problem, but like I said, slightly frustrating, especially when we are introducted to new characters who then play no part in the current story. (This excludes, obviously, the Fables who appear in Boy Blue’s history.)

I (finally) noticed that the Fables heavily favor European (Eastern and Western) folk and fairy tales. I can’t remember seeing any fables from African or Eastern folklore. Though I suppose there are more than enough characters in European folklore to populate Fabletown already.
Rating: 7/10

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