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Fables 15: Rose Red is beyond fabulous,
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This review is from: Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red (Paperback)
Bill Willingham keeps raking in the Eisner awards and loving adulation for The Fables, perhaps the best running Vertigo title. This month volume 15 of the TPB Graphic Novels was issued, titled Rose Red. I was disheartened by the Jack of Fables Crossover and feared Fables was going over the proverbial shark when I read Volume 13, but a return to excellence followed with graphic novel #14, Witches! I only hoped Rose Red would keep up the same integrity of story and dedication to art as Witches did to be content. But Rose Red did not maintain the quality - it lifted up several notches! Collecting issues 94 through 100, Rose Red returned the series to a place of new discovery that it was when it all began.
What a wonderful story to tell. Our fables here in the mundane world were given a great new foe in the otherwise tepid Crossover volume, Mister Dark. Witches really set the tone for this superpower of the darker realms, how he ate the teeth of his victims for his power, how he turned mundane and Fable alike to witherlings, sort of undead enslaved to serve him. And he kicked the fables collective butts, driving them out of their well hidden home in the middle of New York, forced to reside on The Farm, where fables that cannot pass as human must live. How are we gonna get out this mess? Can the old wicked witch, Totenkinder (now on the "good" side, no longer eating children she lured in with candy houses) actually come up with a plan to box up Mister Dark again? Will the political intrigue of her fellow witches, long desiring her station as leader of the fable witches, get in the way? Will Boy Blue return from his horrid death, or is that all just religious PR? Will Rose Red, Snow White's sister and leader of the farm, ever get out of bed again? What calamity lies in store.
Rose Red is aptly named because it focuses on the back story for Rose and her sister, Snow, but from Rose's perspective. The build up to issue 100, the marvelous way Willingham keeps complex story-lines intermeshed, and the inevitable battle between the witch and the Dark, makes Rose Red one of the best tales told to date in the Fables setting (perhaps Peter and Max is better, but it was a novel, not a graphic novel). It is also one of the best drawn. Cover art, particularly that of Rose Red herself, is outstanding. Wow - who is the model for Rose? Are we sure Snow White was the fairest in all the land? The attention to detail found in Mister Dark, and the battle he engages Totenkinder in, makes this particular volume a beauty just to look at. This is truly a top tier effort, worthy of anyone's attention. Though it serves followers of the storyline best, it manages to be the kind of story you can read as a stand-alone book - perhaps an odd way to introduce yourself to the Fables setting, but not a bad way (I still encourage the uninitiated to read - or listen to - Peter and Max, it has the very best stand-alone quality).
Vertigo has had great fortune in their story telling company, Gaiman's Sandman and Willingham's Fables keep up a long tradition of quality work. If you have not delved into Fables by now, you should grab Rose Red, and then start saving up for the 14 Graphic Novels that precede it. You'll be hooked.