Monday, January 5, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#17 - Road-Runner And Coyote Ugly

Writer: Bill Willingham; Pencils: Mark Buckingham; Inker: Steve Leiahola; Colour: Daniel Vozzo; Letterer: Todd Klein; Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-12 Ewww!

Bigby leaps out and our quick thinking blonde assassin fires a high powered rifle shot right into his head. He crashes to the ground. She puts a couple more into him and then goes looking for Snow. Bigby isn’t dead. He is hurt, but normal bullets, no matter how powerful cannot hurt him. He tells her she should have used silver bullets. Apparently, Bigby is a werewolf. Goldilocks thinks that’s a bit unfair, given that her gun could stop a charging elephant, but she quickly puts together a Plan B of her own and gathers up some wood. She is going to burn Bigby to death, firing the odd shot into him to keep him down. Snow steps up with the original Plan B: she slams an axe into Goldilocks’ brain.

Goldie falls and then gets up again. She is a little disoriented, but then she does have an axe in her head. Pulling it all together, she goes for her rifle. Snow picks up her cane, intent on beating her would-be killer until she stays down. In spite of all the blood and gore pouring out of Goldilocks’ head, she continues to prove remarkably resilient. At least until she steps back away from the cane and goes over a cliff. After hitting several rocks and trees, she ends up on a logging road. Incredibly, she picks herself up and… is hit by a truck. That knocks her further down the hill and into a river. The end. We hope. We’ll see. Bigby points out that, given how popular she is with us mundies, we can’t be too sure. He says he needs about twelve hours rest and then the two can finally start their way home.

pp 13-17 Bluebeard’s Legacy

It’s the next morning and Charming is carrying the rug that was on the floor of Bluebeard’s apartment. Mrs. Web, formerly Miss Muffet, apparently marriage is a cure for arachnophobia, asks him what he is carrying and the Prince blithely tells her it’s a dead body. She isn’t too amused with this joke, but he isn’t joking. With Grimble following he dumps the body into the Witching Well. The Witching Well, which we’ll see much more of, is a portal between the Fables and the land of the dead. Once a body is put down it, the person, whether good or bad, is truly dead and gone. There is, of course, a famous exception, but we are a long way from that!

Afterwards he meets with the Mayor. Cole is extremely upset. Charming is not. Bluebeard ‘needed killing’ and now he’s dead. Within his castle were many contraband magical items, enough to easily, if retroactively, justify the act. Cole doesn’t care. Charming has killed their ‘biggest annual contributor.’ With that admission, the Prince is able to turn things around to his side very quickly. As Bluebeard didn’t have a will, everything he owned belongs to the community government. Cole no longer has to grovel for handfuls. He can have the whole cake. With dollar signs in his eyes, literally, Cole agrees to a quick inquiry to wrap things up before Bigby and Snow return and pronounces that it is a ‘great day indeed!’

pp 18-19 Epilogue I

Our formerly enchanted couple arrives at La Guardia, still blaming Jack. Snow breaks new ground by telling Bigby that, if he’ll stop scheming to find ways to gain her attention and just asks her out, he may find her more willing than he imagines. It’s a happy moment, and one to savour. It doesn‘t last long.

p 20 Epilogue II

Charming is meeting with Hobbes, the manservant of the lately departed. It turns out that the glamour Hobbes uses to appear human is about to expire and Hobbes will have to go to the Farm. Unless, of course, he and the Prince can reach an understanding. Charming will get the glamour renewed, if Hobbes will help him gain control of Bluebeard’s fortune. As it belongs to Fabletown now, he’ll have to become mayor first.

pp 21-22 Epilogue III

Snow is seeing Doctor Swineheart. Swineheart from the Grimm’s fairy tale, The Three Army Surgeons. These doctors impress an innkeeper by removing vital parts of themselves and restoring them the next day. A cat gets into the cupboard, however, and steals one surgeon’s heart. A girl tries to cover up the loss by replacing the heart with a pig’s heart, which is put into the doctor’s chest in the morning. Swineheart runs a special hospital for Fables and took care of Snow after she’d been shot.

His news is of an entirely different nature this time. Snow is pregnant. Bigby is initially happy with the news, but Snow’s anger soon wipes the smile from his face. True, what happened happened under an enchantment, but the Wolf would have sensed what happened as soon as he awoke from the spell. He admits he did know, though he doesn’t remember anything. He hid it from her because they were in a dangerous situation and he didn’t want her distracted. Now he doesn’t want to see him.

And so ends the first part of this series. While the series was only a year and a half old at this point, this story also marked the end of the status quo as the exiles lives are about to be turned upside down. For centuries they have lived in our world, safe from the Adversary. Now that is all about to change. The next part of the series will be marked by open conflict between the exiled community and the despotic conqueror of their Homelands.

In total the series can be broken into four parts. Three follow each other chronologically, but a fourth doesn’t concern itself with what’s happening today. It tells the many stories of the characters that populate these stories. We’ve seen two of these tales so far. The prose story of Bigby and Snow’s first meeting was included as an extra in the first trade, and in the third trade we saw the story of Jack and the devil. Next week we will get two more of these. Then Fables begins in earnest. If you are reading Fables in trade format, things are going to get a little confusing as we start the next trade before finishing the third one. But I will explain that next week.

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