Bill Willingham (writer), and Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn
McManus, and Andrew Pepoy (artists), Fables: Wolves (Vertigo, 2006)

This eighth installment of Bill Willingham's long-running series of fairy tale characters alive and well in our world (and at war with a fierce Adversary) finds Mowgli of Jungle Book fame still hunting down the Big Bad Wolf on behalf of Prince Charming, embattled mayor of Fabletown. Mowgli's travels take him to Russia, then back across the Bering Strait to Alaska,. We get to see him show off his buff body, unarmed combat skills and preternaturally keen tracking skills. To Bigby's dismay, he's found all too easily (by his standards), and made a offer: perform a task for Prince Charming and a way will be found for Bigby to live with Snow White and their cubs on the outskirts of the Farm.

Does Bigby take the offer? Is there a happy ending in store for this bizarre set of star-crossed lovers and their cute litter of shape-changing, wind-borne kids? Well, I'll tell you that the answer's yes to the first question, and the bulk of the graphic novel is given to the nine part arc, "Happily Ever After." But I won't tell if that's an aptly or an ironically named story arc. To say much more would give away the meat of the task that Charming has sent Bigby away on. Suffice it to say it's a game-altering task and one that has far-reaching effects on the on-going war with the Adversary.

I will say that I'm somewhat disappointed with both the outcome of that task (too direct an approach, and accomplished too quickly and easily) and the resolution of things between Snow and Bigby. I've lost any respect for the strong woman who used to run Fabletown and the crotchety loner wolf -- their personalities seem to have done an about-face.

The final story of the volume is a one-shot story with Cinderella in the land of the giants, showing the hazards of diplomacy with such . . . over-sized participants. Amusing, but forgettable.

Coming on the heels of such a strong entry in the series, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, Wolves was somewhat frustrating. At least everyone is back where they belong, so events in the next book, Fables Vol. 9: Sons of Empire, can pick right up.

Also included in the volume are the script for story 50, "Happily Ever After," plus maps of the various Fable locations, such as Fabletown, which will make great reference materials for rereading earlier volumes.

[April Gutierrez]