Monday, January 5, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willngham's Fables

#16 - Duel

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

pp 01-03 True Confessions Continue

When you’re deep in the Washington bush, being chased by a crazed gun man - gun woman - your day to day pretences tend to fall away. For over a year now Snow has known that Bigby was romantically interested in her, but it is only now that she comes right out and asks him why. He tells her that he has always been interested, from the moment he first smelled her. He is a dog, after all. He was able to ignore it for the longest time, but having spent years as a human has allowed him to accept his attraction for a human female. Still, he has tried to fight it. He smokes continuously in order to drown out the many smells around him, but he can never ignore her. He senses her, and her feelings, all the time. Over the years he has gotten to know her to an extent that, now she is aware it, she admits she finds it all a bit creepy. He reminds her that she was the one who insisted he join the human Fables in the first place, and that she was the one who asked why he was interested.

pp 04-07 Bluebeard’s Reckoning

Bluebeard comes down for his breakfast and finds Prince Charming waiting for him. Somehow the Prince has managed to get Hobbes out of the picture. He has come to kill Bluebeard as a favour to his ex-wife. He knows that Bluebeard intends to kill the Wolf (so Wilfred must have completed his heroic journey), and so the Prince is there to deliver a very traditional form of justice.

Bluebeard can’t believe it. Charming is ‘an unrepentant rogue’. Why would he act like this now. Charming concedes the point, but replies, ‘noble urges occur so seldom that I can hardly afford to ignore the rare few that do come along.’ Bluebeard reminds Charming of their previous bout, but the Prince dismisses that. This is a real fight.

Buckingham does some great layouts here, structuring the panels into shields, and often moving the action out of the panels altogether, but when he draws Charming smirking the Prince ends up looking like he is giddy, even drunk.

pp 08-09 Hatching A Plan

Snow and Bigby are on foot. He is in human form again. He doesn’t want to get too far ahead of their attacker. If they don’t stop her now, she may strike again at any time. Bigby knows it’s a she. He can smell her. She is also on a dirt bike. They both assume its Goldilocks. Who else could it be? Bigby asks Snow to hide under some rocks while he demonstrates a unique talent.

p 10 The Duel

The fight continues. Bluebeard gets the upper hand, but he can’t hold on to it.

p 11 Acting Mayor Bufkin

Bufkin answers the office phone. No. No one is available. No one else is there. Who’s in charge? ‘I guess I am,’ says the monkey. It’s a funny enough scene. It reads like an early try at the sort of scenes we now get in Jack of Fables, featuring Babe the Blue Ox, which are much funnier, though not as grounded in reality. If you can describe this page as grounded in reality.

p 12 Bluebeard’s True Nature Revealed

Just three issues ago Bluebeard was going on at length about how no one’s true nature ever really changes. Now we see Bigby was right about the villain. Bluebeard is a coward. He tries to buy off Charming. The Prince replies, ‘I intend to have all your riches, as soon as you’re out of the way. Noble impulses only go so far.’

pp 13-15 A Bit Of The Old Huff And Puff

A huge windstorm sweeps down the mountain, tearing down and uprooting trees and throwing a certainly blonde biker off her ride.

p 16 Bluebeard, Still Not Getting It

Bluebeard tries reasoning. Charming’s action can’t save Bigby, so why fight. The Prince asks him to try and die with a little dignity.

pp 17-19 Son Of The North Wind

Bigby explains what just happened. While his mother is indeed a wolf, his father is the North Wind. Snow is amazed. She’d heard about the Three Pigs, but… Bigby assures her that he was only a pup then. Even a brick house wouldn’t stand against him now.

Having wrought all this damage, Bigby has also accomplished two important things. He has created a trail of devastation that should enable Goldilocks to find them and he has gained dominance over the local winds. They will now keep themselves positioned to always give away Goldilocks’ position to him. If all goes as planned Snow won’t have anything further to do, but just in case it doesn’t Bigby has a Plan B.

p 20 Bluebeard’s End

Bluebeard tries to surrender, but Charming isn’t having it. He stabs the serial bride killer through the heart. Bluebeard dies bragging that he has already killed Snow and Bigby. Little does he know.

pp 21-22 And Goldilocks’ …Maybe

Goldilocks makes her way to the center of the storm. She calls out Bigby and he comes, leaping out as a giant wolf.

Next issue: everything wraps up with the violence and gruesomeness only an arc called Storybook Love could boast.

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