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Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland

by Skombie on February 09, 2015

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Craig Hamilton, Jim Fern

Werewolves of the Heartland is meant to be read after Volume 12 (Issues 76-82) of Fables. Therefore, this review may contain spoilers of these previous twelve volumes. If you haven’t read up to there yet, go ahead. This review will wait for you.

I have a love hate relationship with the Fables series. When I’m not reading Fables I consistently question myself why I do, but when I am I always ask myself why I stop. Somehow between the first and last page of each volume I fall in love over and over and over again.

After the events of Volume 12, Bigby sets out to find a new home for Fabletown. He finds Story City in Iowa, a town already inhabited by werewolves who are living as near to normal lives as possible. There he meets some old friends, and also finds that the people worship him as god of wolves. As with all gods some accept him willingly, while others can’t wait to see him disappear.

The first thing I want to talk about is the art in this book, as those accustomed to the Fables series know, a new artist gets thrown in every now and again. For Werewolves of the Heartland we have the two main artists in Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern who worked on pencils and inks and Ray Snyder and Mark Farmer who just worked Inks.

The style they’ve gone for tries to avoid a lot of detail for anyone in human form.  Crosshatching or single lines for the shadows gives the book a minimalist feeling. And when combined with the colour palette – which for the most part is bright and single toned - makes this the brightest book I’ve read in a while. In contrast, when the werewolves ‘wolf out’ they become dark and full of detail. This adds not only a visual contrast but an artistic one as well, making the werewolves feel all the more menacing.

For the story, I found it wanting. I mean it’s good, but it’s not great. It’s like comparing your girlfriend to Anne Hathaway, I mean your girlfriend might be amazing, but she’s no Anne Hathaway. Unless you are married to Mrs Hathaway, in that case you just ruined my simile you lucky son of a werewolf. Similes aside, if you’ve been faithful to the Fables series you should be firmly in team Bigby who is one my favourite comic book characters. Every time we see him in action it is always a pleasure, and Werewolves of the Heartland is no exception.

Bigby finds himself in a couple of hairy situations while in Story City and, as always, it’s interesting to see how he manages. He also dispenses some righteous wolf judgement, which is one of the cooler things about his character, and his story so far. That is, how Bigby, differentiates between acting as sheriff of Fabletown and acting as alpha wolf. This always intrigues me and provides insight into the way he acts throughout the series.

I also enjoyed how they have linked Story City with the rest of the greater Fables universe. As mentioned before, this book brings back some old characters, and ties the happenings of Story City back to the history of Fabletown. This interconnectivity is perhaps the best asset of this trade and will excite fans of the series.
The writing in this book isn’t up to the same standard as the main series. It leaves me feeling for want of a better word ‘bleh’. I’m sure a more detailed analysis would get to the core of the blehness. Though I have a feeling that the root cause has something to do with the way the villains of the book were portrayed in the book. It was as though they were auditioning for the lead roles of Dumb and Dumber Three. Or maybe it was the massive set up to climax that didn't reach its peak. Either way it’s left me feeling a bit empty after putting it back on the shelf.

For a rating, I’m giving it a seven out of ten. This is one for the fans, and if you’ve read the first twelve volumes of Fables you should know where you stand on that. It’s an enjoyable ride while it lasted. However, it was rather forgettable in comparison to the rest of the series. 

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Kalem Lalonde's picture
Welcome to the family!