If you’re reading this review, it’s safe to say you know what Fables is about. If not, it’s the characters from fairytales living in New York and struggling to adjust! This volume is issues 114-121 and tells the tale of two of the children of Snow and Bigby. Therese is one of the quieter of the cubs, a young girl that seems slightly self absorbed, as all good nine year olds should be. She receives a toy for Christmas from an unknown source, which turns out to be slightly unorthodox. She is spirited away to Toyland also known as Magic Land, Mattagonia, or sometimes Madland. It’s where the unloved toys from various generations are gathered together to live out their endless lives in decrepitude. She is taken as their Queen, although it is not a role that many would enjoy. Her brother and the leader of the cubs, Daire sets out to try and find her, leaving his family behind to visit Toyland.
As ever, this is a wonderfully far fetched affair. Writer Bill Willingham’s main skill is to create a ludicrous concept and then put huge thought into how a world would exist within the constraints that he has imagined. This story is isolated from the main story arc, and is the better for it. While the major battles can be dramatic, it’s great to get something on a smaller scale every once in a while. This is the story of two kids lost in a far away world, where their powers and family lineage count for nothing. It is a surprisingly sad tale and the creators capture the loneliness and desperation of a lost child. Mark Buckingham takes great pleasure creating the toy wasteland, and the various broken toys, action figures, ninjas, dolls and teddy bears make it look like a twisted version of Toy Story. If you’re still reading after the previous 17 volumes, you know what to expect. If not, this would actually be a fine place to start! I’ve felt that in recent times, the series has not been as impressive as in earlier issues. It has become bogged down in the complexity of the world and the battles with the big bad guys. This is something of a return to form and is a very enjoyable tale.