Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red (Anglais)
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Pour commencer, la Bête doit s'interposer entre la Fée Bleue et Geppetto, King Cole doit réfréner les initiatives d'Ozma, il doit également décider avec Bigby, Blanche Neige et Beast de comment diriger la Ferme, Maddy doit trouver le moyen d'envoyer ses rapports sur les agissements de Mister Dark sans se faire prendre, Frau Totenkinder doit convaincre Dunster Happ de lui dire comment vaincre Mister Dark. Et Rose Red assiste à une apparition de sa défunte mère. Cette dernière va lui révéler les véritables circonstances de la séparation entre elle et sa soeur Blanche Neige, ce qui est l'occasion pour le lecteur de redécouvrir son aventure avec les 7 nains sous un tout autre jour, d'une vraie noirceur cruelle. Pendant ce temps là, Geppetto, Ozma et Brock Blueheart se sont liés pour constituer une coalition s'opposant à celle de King Cole, afin de devenir les gérants officiels de la Ferme. Le duel tant attendu entre Frau Totenkinder et Mister Dark a lieu, jusqu'à son terme.
Le tome précédant dégageait un charme certain, ainsi qu'un léger parfum de déjà vu avec Mister Dark prenant la place de l'Adversary. Ce parfum persiste en plus diffus, mais les péripéties et les révélations se succèdent à un rythme tellement soutenu avec une multitude de personnages que cet aspect devient très secondaire et que le plaisir du divertissement prend le dessus.Lire la suite ›
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The bulk of the collection consists of the "Rose Red" story arc that gives the volume its name. As you might divine from the name, it focusses on Rose Red, Snow White's oft-overlooked sister, who has been despondent since the death of Boy Blue nearly 25 episodes earlier. Finally, Willingham gets around to addressing her situation and the role she must play in Fabletown. This story is intercut with a fairly lengthy depiction of Rose and Snow's backstory, told in the Fables-verse for the first time. Willingham shows how the "Snow-White and Rose-Red" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" stories are made to fit together, despite seemingly contradictory elements (also incorporating parts of Snow's backstory previously revealed in "1001 Days of Snowfall").
That aside, arguably the centrepiece of the collection is issue #100 and its leadup, as the struggle between the Fables and the evil Mr. Dark (the avatar of darkness, essentially) comes to a head. Frau Totenkinder, the witch in a thousand different fairytales (including "Hansel and Gretel"), prepares to unleash the full force of her power to defeat a being that has previously vanquished whole armies of the Empire's mages. The resulting story takes a number of twists and turns, but I will say that Totenkinder's fate, if this is indeed the last we see of her in the series, I found rather surprising. It's not how I would ever have pictured her ending up, but based on her origin (also in "1001 Days"), it seems oddly fitting.
That insurrection is nigh is due primarily to the inaction of the Farm's director. Red Rose simply won't stir out of bed. Still grieving and remorseful over Boy Blue's death, she languishes in dirt and despondency. And if pep talk from a pig's head affixed on a pole can't rouse you, then it's a truly sad state in which you wallow.
I've pretty much used up all the superlatives in reviewing Willingham's past Fables trades. There are no more words to describe how so very good this guy is writing this comic book. And I'd be remiss if I didn't rave about Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha's clean, evocative art, again the perfect visual complement to Willingham's storytelling. Willingham is a master of pacing, is so expert at constructing a deep sense of anticipation. Several issues in this trade commit to chronicling Snow White and Rose Red's childhoods, and so we get to peek behind-the-scenes of that familiar fairy tale. We learn that Snow White's past is marked with bloody bleak moments, and that those pleasant Disneyfied seven dwarves were actually the vilest of mothereffers. We learn the details behind the falling out of these two previously inseparable sisters.
This volume is titled "Rose Red," so maybe we should talk her up some. This run of issues tells of how Snow White's sister shakes off her malaise and again shoulders her responsibilities. Rose doesn't quite receive the same epic treatment that Willingham graced on Boy Blue and Flycatcher and even on the blue flying monkey, Bufkin. But it's a delight watching Rose so confidently dispense with one crisis after another. Still, I expected her to have a larger role in this arc than she actually did.
But if anyone, it's Frau Totenkinder who is elevated into a character of grander consequence. Not that she needed a boost in street cred. Willingham commemorates the fabulous landmark 100th issue, tracking at one hundred pages, by showcasing the much anticipated duel between Mr. Dark and Frau Totenkinder. I'll say the showdown lived up to my expectations. And I admit that Frau Totenkinder is easier on the eyes now that she's assumed her original form. Other highlights in this issue include the birth of Beauty and the Beast's baby and Snow White's exquisite dressing down of the mean-spirited Mrs. Spratt. And, oh, but this arc has plenty of swerves.
The bonus stuff from the 100th issue is compiled here. I liked the switcheroo piece, "Pinocchio's Army," in which Buckingham writes the prose and writer (and sometime artist) Bill Willingham provides the occasional illustrations. "Pinocchio's Army" follows Pinocchio's attempts to cheer up Geppetto. In the aftermath of the epic duel between Mr. Dark and Totenkinder, we get two short stories: "A Thing With Those Mice" (with art by cover artist Joao Ruas) and "The Perils of Thumbelina." The illustrated Q & A segment features FABLES characters responding to questions by celebrities like Phil LaMarrl, Eddie Cahill, and sexy Cobie Smulders (from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER). The Fables Paper Puppet Theater allows you to cut out FABLES characters (cut outs of established Fables locations also included). There's the "Escape to Wolf Manor" board game. And, lastly, you can marvel at Buckingham's fine detail work in his eleven-paged sketchbook.
If you're anticipating a resolution to the Mr. Dark dilemma, well, Willingham is stingy on that front. What happens in this "Rose Red" arc closes several doors but opens other avenues. We say goodbye to one of my favorite characters whose parting vow is: "But you'll not see me again." (We'll see.) As our Fables characters endure and move on, Bigby Wolf is deployed on another mission. The threat is very far from ended. Willingham keeps the FABLES engine running, hopefully keeps it running for another few hundred issues.
One question is nagging the hell out of me: Who was that creature, really, that got Rose out of her funk, and got such a reaction from Rose when she found out who it really was?
First, this is a satisfyingly huge volume coming in at over 250 pages; this is because it includes the celebratory 100th issue in which they included lots of extras. I loved this volume! The main story is carried along nicely, plenty of characters have resolutions in their lives, we see the departure of a character that's been in from the beginning and then the start of new story threads are briefly introduced.
The book starts off with the title story "Rose Red" which consists of 5 chapters and takes a deep look at Red's character and the mess she is currently in. We are taken back into her past when she was a little girl with "Fables" retellings of "Snow White & Rose Red" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". This is the real focus of the volume and takes up over 100 pages. A very satisfying story; I've been unhappy with the direction of Red's character lately and this is a rewarding read. Of special note is that Red is exposed to a stunning reveal but, we the reader, are not made privy to what she sees. I have an idea as to what it is though, so we'll see if I'm right in future volumes.
Next we're taken into the Dark City for a single chapter to spend some time with the Dark Man and see what he is up to and planning for the future of the world. Then onto a long single chapter in which all things come to a head when there is an ultimate battle (well, duel, really) between the Dark Man and one character who has long planned to take him on.
At this point we are treated to the bonus material with two short stories, one featuring Thumbelina and the other the Three Blind Mice. Then a longer short story which is written in text about Pinocchio and Geppetto. Finally finishing off with some fun stuff, a few graphic shorts, a Fables Puppet Theatre (which can be photocopied and actually built and played with), a Board Game and finally a sketchbook of Mark Buckingham's work.
All the little extras are a lot of fun, but the two main plot developments of Rose Red and the Dark Man carry the story along wonderfully and leave us poised for the next volume. All the other characters do appear also and everybody gets a little character development or move forward in their plot. Beauty finally has her baby and it isn't what she was expecting at all! A highlight in the series!
One thing that really bothered me was how much the separation affected Rose Red. She becomes so despondent that she loses the chance to go off on cool adventures and make a name for herself, and honestly, it just irritated me that she should cry for so much (and for so long) I do wish we had learned who Snow and Rose's father was (perhaps it was the mysterious apparition?) Hopefully we will learn more in the next volumes.
In Volume 14 of this series, we learn a lot about Frau Totenkinder. She just proves to be even more cooler than everyone thought she was, and this awesomeness continues in Vol 15. If you didn't think that her street cred could get any higher, well believe me, in this book it does. Don't get me wrong, Ozma is cool, but Totenkinder is the best of the old school. I am just hoping that her closing proclamation at the end of the book won't be true, because oh I would be so sad if it was.
I am especially interested to see what will happen when Nurse Spratt gets her wishes granted. Oh me oh my.
This volume not only covers the showdown between Frau Totenkinder & Mr. Dark but also Rose Red's past & re-emergence into the world of the living. There's also a few extras at the end in the form of the game "Escape to Wolf Manor" & other goodies. (My personal favorite was a Q&A with some of the biggest non-major questions of the series.) Of course some of the goodies requires that you desecrate your volume by cutting it up, but they're still cool to look at.
Now for the review. This volume was excellent. I was eagerly awaiting Rose Red's eventual return as well as the eventual fight with Mr. Dark. I'll admit that I was surprised by some of the plot points of the book & I'm now insanely curious to know what will happen as well as what the outcome will be of some of the more surprising turns at the end of the volume. I can't elaborate without spoiling it, but the next volume holds the potential to be even more exciting than this one was!