Fables: War and Pieces -- a fitting resolution to a marvellous graphic novel series

Update:: OK, I'm an idiot. This sure seemed like the ending of the story, but apparently, they're only halfway through. Eek!

One of the most rewarding moments of my winter holiday was the morning I found to read the final installment in Fables, Bill Willingham (and company)'s long-running, brilliant graphic novel series.

Over 11 volumes (plus a few very fine spin-offs), Fables has treated us to a cracking story about the exiled community of mythological creatures living in secret in Manhattan -- a motley cadre of legendary figures who were chased from their homeland by an evil emporer bent on multiversal conquest. From Sleeping Beauty to Little Boy Blue and the Big Bad Wolf, the legends have lurked in our human society, mingling with us, sometimes acting as our friends and sometimes as our enemies.

Building from a series of clever little vignettes to an epic tale of war and betrayal, revolution and politics, Legends became one of my favorite graphic novel reads. The authors rarely strayed into the realm of the silly, playing their Big Idea as straight as a ruler, drawing me into the lives of these vividly realized, striving people who struggled to get along -- and get home. On the way, the authors fluidly change comic styles, flipping from simplistic children's comics to elaborate oil-paintings to stylized manga, choosing the style that suits the present storyline best.

With the final installment, the Fables go to war, and adopts the conventions of war comics. The story is big -- huge -- and the battles are nail-biters. Things don't go the way you'd expect, and the ending is... Well, it's just goddamned great, tying up the loose ends, resolving the emotional tension, honoring the years I'd put into following these adventures. I won't drop any spoilers here, but I will note that the resolution leaves things open for some additional spinoff books and storylines, which I'll be looking forward to.

In the meantime, if you're the kind of person who likes to banquet on a whole epic story in one setting, now's the time -- all the books are in print and available for your perusal. And if you, like me, have been following the story for years, rejoice for the end is at hand, and what an end it is.

Fables, Vol. 11: War and Pieces

List of all Fables collections

Free download of Fables 1


  1. Cory, are you sure this is the final installment? Wikipedia still lists another trade after this one collecting Fables #76-82 and the series shows as ongoing.

  2. While this is a brilliant collection it isn’t actually the end of Fables. The book is continuing on exploring the unintended consequences of the actions of Fabletown in this trade and Volume 11 might best be thought of as the end of the first act.

  3. I don’t think this is the last issue, so much as the end of the current story arc. Failing all else, Willingham says in the afterward that the book will keep going, so unless Vertigo pulls the plug, it probably will.

    Also, I was unhappy that the ‘Who’s Who’ section in this book mentioned/hinted at things that happened in the book, and not just things you’d already know from other compilations.

    Otherwise, it IS a really wonderful conclusion to the story.

  4. Uh, Fables is going to continue until at least issue 150. Bill Willingham said so in issue 76, I believe (in a column titled “the plan for the next 75 issues” or something like that).

  5. I really liked fables, that is, until all the politics got mixed in with it.

    Willingham states concerning the analogy of Fabletown and Israel, “A scrappy little country full of stiff-necked bastards who, the only way we’re gonna protect our existence is to make sure that anytime you do anything bad to us, we’re going to make you pay horribly.”

    Is that supposed to be Al-Qaeda or Israel?

  6. Drink down that shame Cory, then think about how you have 75 more issues to look forward to!

    So far it’s looking pretty good, with some sad, some shocking, and some downright weird moments.

  7. #6: My thoughts exactly. The story was so interesting and creative until that point. Then the most recent issue before War and Pieces felt like a giant Deus ex Machina. It was basically a methapor for Christ. I stopped after that point but I guess I might as well finish the series.

  8. Actually, you were half-right. The end of this trade is what Bill Willingham had originally planned to be the end of the series.

  9. GT I don’t think that quote is necessarily supposed to be as pro-violence and pro-Israel as it’s often made out to be. After all Bigby’s actions that lead to him saying that don’t exactly have the intended effect.

  10. If you’re an idiot, than I’m an idiot. I bought this, read it, and was saddened that it had come to an end.

    I’m very happy to have also been proved wrong. I did think there were too many loose ends…

  11. The storyline with the middle eastern fables & the way they were treated disturbed me. Sinbad (not the “comedian”)was arrested & went through “enhanced interrogation” turned out to be innocent got an apology of sorts & everybody was OK with this including Sinbad.

    Otherwise I’m a big fan of Fables.

    Like to see how they make a weekly TV out of this

  12. laconic @8 – from wiki, quote by willingham:

    “More recently Willingham has explicitly tied his series to a pro-Israeli political stance, stating “Politically, I’m just rabidly pro-Israel and so that, as a metaphor, was intended from the beginning.” He adds, however, “as much as politics are going to intrude in Fables, that’s as far as I think I’m willing to go.”

  13. Morpheuse- At least he has the honesty to have Israel-like actions have Israel-like consequences in that they aren’t really managing to “solve” the violence with that strategy. But I stand corrected, apparently you ARE supposed to admire that plan which seems a bit strange.

    I guess I was just justifying those parts of the book (along with basically just ignoring the War on Terror Sinbad stuff) so I could continue enjoying all the brilliant ways the Fabletown community manages to blend their magical items and abilities with modern technology.

  14. Fables is one of the most innovative and entertaining stories to hit comics since Gaiman’s Sandman series.

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