Monday, November 24, 2008

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#8 The Pirates Of Upstate New York

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

pp 1-2 Pirate Red

Snow took Red with her in order to spend some time together, to mend their long held grievances. Now it looks like she couldn’t have made a worse decision. Posey saw Red as a possible ally in their campaign to return to the Homelands and it looks like the pig was right. One look at the Returnist arsenal and Red jumps right in with both feet.

pp 3-11 Escape

Meanwhile Goldie and her hunters have been up all night and have nothing to show for it. It looks like Reynard has escaped. Goldie orders a lock down and sends allies from amongst the birds of prey out with orders to kill anything that tries to enter or leave. Mama Bear isn’t too happy about that. The Farm is now even more of a prison than it was before.

The long night is producing some stress among the fugitives as well. After objecting to Reynard calling her ‘Sweetie,’ Snow learns that she and Bigby are the talk of the Fable communities. Everyone assumes they are lovers. The ensuing argument is enough to distract the two from their pursuers. Baby Boo and Iron Shoes and Old Mother Hubbard’s kids, the latter riding on Baba Yaga’s famous chicken legged house, and Shere Khan are all on their tail. Make a note about the chicken house. It will come up again. But not during this hunt.

The predacious birds soon kill their first victim, Cock Robin. Cock Robin is a nursery rhyme character whose rhyme begins with the line, ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ If ever a character was destined to bite it, I guess this is the one. In the rhyme he is killed by the sparrow, in this story by a falcon. And in this story he is a North American robin, which is odd, given that it’s a European rhyme. North American and European robins are completely different birds.

Snow and Reynard continue to argue about her love life while he brings her to see something he has discovered. It is a handgun altered to fit of the Tortoise’s back, while the Rabbit fires it. What could it mean? Well, we know what it means, but Snow’s chance to speculate is cut short by the sudden appearance of Shere Khan. Reynard quickly gives her directions to a cave beyond the Valley of the Big Sleepers and then bravely launches himself at the tiger in order to buy her some time. She wastes no time and quickly finds herself looking down on the big sleepers: three enormous giants and a dragon.

pp 12-13 Woodlands Alerted

Back at the Woodlands, Boy Blue runs into Bigby’s office. He is carrying his horn so you’ll recognize him. Concerned about the Forsworn Knight’s prophecies, he tried to call the Farm. Unable to get through, he sent a messenger, Cock Robin. But before he sent him he had Frau Totenkinder cast a watching ward on him. Blue wasn’t authorized to do that. The expense is considerable. But given the turn of events, Bigby isn’t going to scream too much. Instead, he is going to gather up a ‘posse’.

pp 14-22 Confrontation And Discovery

Shere Khan wastes no time in catching up to Snow. Luckily she has the gun they found and, wasting no time, she hits him with it. By the time he comes back again she has gathered enough common sense together and actually shoots him with it. Fortunately Fables have no special protection against bullets. She feels sorry for herself, she beats herself up for feeling sorry for herself, and she makes her way to the cave. There she discovers the long lost Weyland Smith, chained to the floor and hammering at an anvil. He is the source of the Returnist arsenal!

In spite of his size, and in spite of being in chains, Smith is polite and deferential. Snow wants to know what on Earth is happening, but before she can ask her pursuers finally catch up, led, of all people, by Red Rose: ‘Snow White, by order of the Ruling Council of the Fables’ Revolutionary Authority, I place you under arrest for crimes against Fablekind.’

As issues go it’s a brief one, with long passages given over to the chase. The Valley of the Big Sleepers is given a two page spread, but that seems appropriate. If you want to convey immensity of importance or even of scale, full and double page splashes are the way to go. This series doesn’t abuse splash pages and it does serve to raise the bar when it comes to introducing these new Fables. Three giants and a dragon. We definitely haven’t seen anything like that. We discover the source of the weapons and the fate of Weyland Smith, which, I admit, was kind of obvious, and the Fables in Manhattan discover something is wrong up on the Farm. In the final page we also get a look at Goldilocks and Red Rose together. Red may be a coup for Posey, but she will obviously become a thorn in Goldie’s bid to consolidate her own leadership. We’ll see how quickly very soon.

No comments: