I really have to kick myself for reading these out of order. Nevertheless, it’s a testament to their excellence that I can still conclude that volumes 10, 14, and 15 are truly superb pieces of writing. The introduction of Dunster Happ, drawn beautifully by Jim Fern and Craig Hamilton, makes a lot more sense of what happened in vol. 15. The machinations of Ozma, Totenkinder, Maddy, and Geppetto are fascinating and exceedingly well-drawn by the high-flying, practically perfect Mark Buckingham.
One thing in which Fables excels is incredible turnarounds from underdogs. Certainly, Willingham is not afraid to kill off good and likeable characters. By the same token, he did masterful things with Flycatcher (aka Prince Ambrose) in The Good Prince, making it probably, still, my favorite Fables volume to date. Furthermore, just when we thought Rose Red was stewing, she hit back in a big way in vol. 15 (though strictly speaking that’s in the future, but given I’ve already read it . . .). Totenkinder/Bellflower has perhaps one of the best “yee-haw” fist-punching moments in vol. 15, as well, but that should in no way diminish the crazy and utterly delectable heights the Bufkin story reaches in vol. 14. Poor old sidelined Bufkin. No longer. Ambrose triumphed in spite of his moral ideals. Bufkin triumphs due to his book-smarts. It’s great and inspiring stuff.