Well, I finally got around to reading Fables: Werewolves in the Heartland, written by Bill Willingham with pencils by Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern, even though I think it came out sometime in the Fall. And it is unusual for me to take so long to read something Fables related. Sure, I didn’t buy either of the Cinderella mini-series, but I did pick up the trades the moment they were available and immediately read them. So, it is odd that I have taken so long to read this. But, maybe subconsciously I knew something. Maybe deep down I had my doubts about this book. So, whatever the reasons for waiting, I had my single issue read pile down, and took some time to read it.
In short, I didn’t like it. Actually, let me qualify that statement. I didn’t like it as much as most other Fables story. No, it’s not on the level of The Great Fables Crossover, but I just found it boring. I’ll go into more detail, and there will be spoilers after the break.
The story takes place sometime after the Mr. Dark takes over Fabletown. So, maybe sometime during the Rose Red story in Fables. Not sure exactly when, and I don’t really feel like looking it up, and really it doesn’t matter. Just know that it’s sometime during that span. Bigby Wolf is out looking for possible replacement locations for Fabletown. He takes the opportunity to take a trip to Story City, which he knows to be a village composed of Werewolves. One of the werewolves, Oda has had a vision of “God” coming to town, and bringing destruction with him. But no one pays attention to her since this is pretty much the only thing her psychic ability predicts. But Bigby comes to town, is knocked with a tranquilizer dart, and wakes up in a jail cell.
He awakes to see his old war buddy Harp, who he thought was dead. Of course Harp is a werewolf. It’s about right now that we get a very long recap of Bigby’s actions during World War 2. Much of it we have already seen before. There is some new material on how Bigby initially met Harp, but it isn’t all that interesting. It just doesn’t matter to the rest of the story. What does matter is the part that we have already seen before, with Harp and Bigby infiltrating Frankenstein’s castle. The basics of the story remain the same. Bigby gets captured by Doctor Sieglinde von Abensberg und Traun. She wants to draw his blood to create an army of werewolves. Long story short, Harp saves Bigby, kills von Traun, but dies in the processes. Bigby escapes and the castle explodes. Now we find out that somehow, some of Bigby’s blood had gotten in both of the wounds. So now *poof* they are werewolves. They fight, and eventually decide that they should work together, and set off on creating their own society of werewolves using their own blood. They grow their numbers, and eventually move to America.
Let’s see what else happens. Oda tries to get with Bigby, but remains loyal to Snow White and therefore does not have the sex with Oda. But, he lets her portray to everyone else that she is for status, or something. Bigby finds that Harp has been executing members of the town in order to keep the numbers down, but nothing really is done with that. Bigby decides to go back to the jail cell, so he’s not bound by a promise he made to Harp for “parole,” and he can now just break out. He does this because he knows a large pack is plotting to try to kill him and he promised he wouldn’t cause trouble as part of his parole. These wolves do a lot of trying to kill Bigby, but of course it ends quite badly for them. In the end he kills all but on of this “Special” group, and Harp for being a bad leader. He picks someone to lead, and then leaves, hoping to never return.
It was odd, but this was a bit of a retcon. I went back to the initial issues where we here about the World War 2 story, and this isn’t really how it was initially portrayed. Sure, the big details stayed the same, but the minor stuff changed. Changed enough to where I don’t think that this was part of his plan way back then. In the original panels, it may have been possible that the Doctor got some of Bigby’s blood on her, but there is no way any got on Harp. But this whole process for creating werewolves stretches my suspension of disbelief. Bigby’s been in warzones. Surely some of his has gotten on the open wounds of others. It’s just silly to make this connection when you don’t need it.
Personally, I think I would have liked the story more if Bigby hadn’t know the leader of this pack. You could have built up tension between the two of them as the pack split between their leader and this wolf god that has appeared. This would have freed up page space to actually develop the characters and setting that is being introduced, instead of rehashing story elements that are already known.