Bill Willingham's amazing graphic novel series Fables is one of those unbelievably, game-changingly epic series, one where I'm just as excited to get a peek at the edges of the world and the backstory of the characters as I am to see how the grand sweep of the plot turns out. The last one of these I can remember is Stephen King's Gunslinger books, where the sidewise discursions were as exciting as the forward movement.
Volume 18 of the Fables was published last week, and it's definitely more sidewide than forwards. Cubs in Toyland is a blood-freezingly scary episode exploring the ancient parent's nightmare of a child spirited away, one that combines the inherent creepiness of anthropomorphic toys (Chucky, anyone?) with the mythic resonances of the Fisher King.
By the time it was over, I was wrung out, but not exhausted. For all that my emotions had been taken through the gamut of wonderment, fear, disgust, suspense and triumph, I wanted more. Specifically, more about the future of the Fables, and the place where they will all go when the tale has run its course. In other words, this is yet another volume where Willingham hits it out of the park; it's reason enough for you to start reading the series, or to keep up with it.