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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Witches

Title: Fables, Vol 14: WitchesFables14
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham
Series: Fables (Vol 14)

The following review has spoilers for previous volumes in the Fables Series. Any spoilers for Witches are placed under a cut.

Mr. Dark has taken over Fabletown, sending the Fables running to The Farm. While The Farm's leader, Rose Red, wallows in depression, the Fables' strongest spellcasters (Frau Totenkinder, Ozma, Ghepetto) plan their next moves. Meanwhile, Bufkin the flying monkey has been trapped in the collapsed remains of Fabletown's business office, where none other than the terrifying Baba Yaga has been awakened. Can one little monkey stand up against such a powerful witch?

After a highly disappointing thirteenth volume, Witches represents a welcome return to form for Bill Willingham's Fables comic book series. The focus is back on the ever creepy Mr. Dark, and our heroes attempts to come up with a plan to thwart him. This can make the graphic novel feel more like a set up for a greater event than anything else, but the interpersonal struggles between the Fables have always been one of the series strengths, and Willingham does a good job with this aspect here. Witches, as one might expect, really puts the emphasis on the witches and spellcasters of the series, bringing one of my personal favorite, Fray Totenkinder, to the forefront, as well as introducing a new powerful player, Ozma. The storyline involving Bufkin seems like all fun and games at first, but I actually found myself to be very engaged by the end. After the main story arc is complete, the graphic novel finishes up with a two-issue series that takes place in the land of Haven. When a baseball game turns dark, Flycatcher might have to reevaluate the way he rules his country. I'm not always a fan of these side arcs, but "Out to the Ball Game" does a great job of giving us a glimpse into the life of one of the series's most beloved characters.

Final Thoughts: Witches is a highly satisfying volume in the Fables franchise. With this volume, we are able to move more deeply into the Mr. Dark storyline, and meet new characters as well as get to see different sides of old ones. Mark Buckingham's artwork continues to impress, as does Bill Willingham's ability to craft complex, yet likable characters. With Witches, Fables proves that it's still running strong, despite being the fourteenth volume of the series. Four and a Half Stars
Tags: bill willingham, fables, fairy tales, fantasy, four and a half stars, graphic novels, mark buckingham, year published: 2010
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