Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham

Bigby Wolf (that's the Big Bad Wolf, who's a bit of a reformed character in the Fables universe) is out looking for a new location to move the fairy tale creatures from Fabletown. He goes to Story City, Iowa, which is fairly isolated from other towns. He soon discovers it's been taken over by werewolves. An old friend from World War II runs the town by keeping the various factions in balance, which is tough since they all have heightened animal instincts.

The back story of the town (which ties into Bigby's back story) is interesting. Bigby is an American and was fighting behind enemy lines trying to disrupt the enemy during World War II. His big problem was the lack of military intelligence, i.e. he never knew which targets to hit because he didn't know their value. During one raid, he runs across Sergeant Arthur Harp who has just the information he needs. They work together for a while. At the end of their partnership, they go to Frankenstein's Castle (yeah, that Frankenstein). The Nazis are trying to recreate Frankenstein's monster (actually a whole bunch of them) to fight as supersoldiers. The Nazis capture Bigby and Harp is accidentally infected with Bigby's blood during the fighting. The castle is blown to bits with Harp inside. Bigby assumed he died because he didn't know Harp had become a werewolf. Fast forward 60 years and now Harp has a town full of werewolves who are trying to live peaceably by themselves.

Now that Bigby is there, most of the townfolk take him for a god, since he is their progenitor. Some expect him to provide miracles or leadership. Harp sees trouble as does Bigby. Things go from bad to worse in a hurry.

I found the set-up of the story interesting and Bigby is a complicated protagonist. The story seems a bit like Yojimbo or A Fistful of Dollars, where a loner drifts into town and mayhem ensues. It's not nearly as good as those films, though, since the action is more bloody and violent than smart. The wolves make some plans, but they are very basic plans without much cunning. The action is exciting enough but not spectacular. I wanted a little more depth to the story or interest in the rest of the characters.

Parental Advisory: In addition to lots of bloody violence (including decapitations and missing limbs), there's also a lot of nudity (I guess the werewolves don't want to ruin their clothes) and one fairly graphic seduction scene with nudity. This is not a comic for kids.

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