Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton, Ray Snyder, and Mark Farmer
As Fables came closer and closer to its conclusion, I began to get interested in the series again (although, interested does not always mean invested in or entertained by), and picked up Werewolves of the Heartland, the standalone OGN that spotlights Bigby Wolf that came out in 2012.
Bigby is out searching for a new possible location for Fabletown (this is in the era when Mister Dark had taken their home from them), and stumbles across Story City. The name intrigues him, but he is even more interested to learn that the entire town is populated by werewolves that view him as their god (although that doesn't put them above wanting to kill him). Even more surprising is the appearance of an old war companion of Bigby's, and an ex-Nazi villainess.
There is a lengthy flashback to Bigby's WWII days, and his mission in Castle Frankenstein, which actually takes me back to the earliest issues of Fables that I read, around about the mid-thirties.
As the story progresses, Bigby comes to realize that there is a lot going wrong in Story City. A cabal has been plotting to overthrow their leaders (who happen to also be their parents, for most of them) and see Bigby's arrival as a good chance to do that. This leads to a big battle, and lots of killing, as none of these werewolves have any clue just how powerful Bigby really is.
This book really eschewed the 'Fables' aspect of Fables, not taking any cues from folklore. It also read as more mature than the parent Fables series has for years, although that is mostly due to copious amounts of non-sexual nudity (and a bit of sexual nudity, as a young woman tries to seduce Bigby).
The art in this book is nice, but the combination of Craig Hamilton and Jim Fern is an odd one. They are both fine artists, but they have very different styles (even though Fern handled layouts for the whole book). Hamilton's pencils, especially when he is the one inking them, are very detailed and realistic, while Fern tends towards the slightly more abstract. I found the switch from one to the other to be jarring at times.