Monday, November 17, 2008

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#7 The Guns Of Fabletown

Writer: Bill Willingham. Pencils: Mark Buckingham. Inks: Steve Leialoha. Letters: Todd Klein. Colours: Daniel Vozzo. Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-03 This Little Pig…

This little piggie went to market. This little piggie stayed home. This little piggie had roast beef. This little piggie had none. And this little piggie... got his head chopped off and stuck on a pole! Poor Colin. It seems they left him up all night, because everyone was just going to bed when he was discovered and now they are taking him down and its morning. It’s attracted surprisingly little attention. There is Snow White and Red Rose, the other two Little Pigs, Dun and Posey, the White Rabbit and a fox (presumably Reynard, whom we'll meet later). The head itself is being taken down by a bear and a creature that looks positively Kirby-esque, but is no doubt Iron Shoes, a fairy legend from Ireland (or the Border Counties, depending on who you reference).

Snow and Dun are having a jurisdictional dispute, to put it nicely. Snow wants to bring Bigby up to investigate, but Dun reminds her that Bigby is forbidden on the Farm and that she hasn't any say in Farm matters, anyway. Dun will take up the investigation himself. Snow points out that he is too close to the case and shouldn't be involved. An interesting point considering her own behaviour in the last story. If she has no authority on the Farm, a point she seems to accept, what is the purpose of her semi-annual visits and why is everyone so deferential around her? Except Dun. She still wants to know about Weyland and where he's gone. Dun claims he doesn't know and that he doesn't care. Putting a human looking Fable in charge of a community defined by the non-human appearance of its residents was a walking insult the pig is glad to see the back of. He turns his back on the Deputy Mayor, but you can sense she isn't about to back down. Look at her new clothes! They look almost like the ones she wore the day before, but now there's a Western fringe on the jacket. If there's to be a show down, Snow's ready for it!

p 04 A New Recruit?

While this argument unfolds, and the bear and Iron Shoes leave with the head in a wheel barrow, Posey approaches Red. She tells her that their talk the previous night left her with the impression that Red was not unsympathetic to their Returnist ideals. Red agrees, but doesn’t see much hope for a few farm animals and some trolls when it comes to fighting the Adversary. Posey says they have been working on just that problem. ‘Come with me. I want to show you something really cool.’

pp 05-08 The Revolution Begins Today

The bear turns out to be Boo, or Baby Boo, of Goldilocks And The Three Bears fame. He and Iron Shoes take the head to a grave site, where his parents and Goldilocks are waiting impatiently to bury it with the rest of Colin’s remains. Goldie wants them to hurry before someone comes along, but the others hold her responsible for the situation. She was the one who insisted on sending Snow the message.

Goldie responds that it is time the revolution came out of hiding! Then why does she want them to hurry, lest they are caught? This isn’t a matter of Willingham forgetting what he wrote only two lines before. It is important to recognize two things about Goldilocks: she is always right, even if she has to argue two completely conflicting points, and it is always about her. Referencing Lord Of The Flies, she argues that the message, Colin’s head, was an important symbol of their isolation. When Mums points out that Goldie isn’t isolated, being a human Fable, the little blonde comrade replies, ‘Don’t you get it yet? After all my doctrinal lectures? When one of us is enslaved, all of us are.’ She about to explain how even her sexual relationship with Baby Boo is symbolic of the equality of species when Reynard makes his appearance known with a barb about forbidden fruits. Goldie calls him a ‘speciesist’, but the fox ignores her and continues to make verbal jabs. Goldie isn’t much of a debater, really, but she doesn’t need to be. She has a gun. If Pops wasn’t concerned that a gun shot would bring everyone to the grave, she’d have blown Reynard’s head off. As it is, they’ll have to find him. ‘Rouse the proletariat!’ Seriously. She actually says that.

Reynard is one Fable whose status has steeply declined, at least in the English speaking world. He is the trickster figure of medieval myth. The white man’s crow or coyote, if you will. Outside of Fables, though, I can’t think of another contemporary reference to him.

p 09 The Armoury

Meanwhile, Posey is showing Red something cool. It’s a huge armoury of muskets, cannon, submachine guns. You name it.

pp 10-11 The Forsworn Knight

Back in Manhattan the Forsworn Knight is beginning to prophesize and Blue and Bigby are struggling to make heads or tails of it. He speaks of the North attacking the South and sister rising up against sister. Both seem like old news. Snow and Red have been at each other for a very long time. Bigby speculates that the North-South reference may mean the American Civil War, which would be far in the future for the Knight, but Blue doesn’t think it works like that. (Moreover, that war started when the South opened fire on the North at Fort Sumter, not the other way around. But with all the work South Revisionists have done, I suppose Bigby can be forgiven that much.)

Of course, it’s all foreshadowing for us readers. The North is Upstate New York, the South Manhattan. We know there’s going to be a fight. What we don’t know is just how far the sisters are willing to go in their ongoing conflict.

pp 12-14 A Sisterly Goodbye

Night has fallen and Red comes to see Snow. Snow is looking for her keys. With Weyland gone, she supposes, one shouldn’t be surprised the phones are dead. She just needs to find her keys and drive to somewhere with a phone. Then she can let the Woodlands know what has been happening. Red cannot believe her naivety. The lines have been cut. Things are happening and they can’t be allowed to let anyone know. Snow can’t be, anyway. Red is just back of her things. Then she’s going and she doesn’t want to be found.

pp 15-20 The Hunt

Goldie has prepared her troops for the hunt for Reynard. Her forces heavily stacked with characters from the Jungle Book, Alice In Wonderland, and Uncle Remus. Posey tells her how unhappy they are with her little stunt. They aren’t ready to return. But, as long as she controls the Revolution’s muscle, Goldie replies, she controls the timetable. Besides she’s not interested in the Return. She wants to be in control of both communities once the Return starts. She is the most deserving, after all. It’s always about Goldie.

The Jungle Book’s Shere Khan and Baghera come closest to finding their prey, but the little trickster has his resources, or resourcefulness. It’s a funny episode, but I wonder how things would have gone if Brer Rabbit, another trickster and a part of the hunt, had been the one to find Reynard.

p 21 Child Soldiers

Reynard does escape and we’re given a second funny page. The Old Lady and her shoeful of children are ready to rumble. They search through their toys for their guns and ammo. Okay, it’s not that funny. Why are they even here? They’re all human in appearance.

p 22 Out Of Her Element

Snow is moping in her room, nothing like the decisive woman we’ve known to date. Reynard comes a tapping at her window. He warns her to go. To go now! And get help.

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