Monday, February 2, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#19 - Out Of The Woods

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

pp 01-03 Saskatchewan

It’s March, it’s northern Saskatchewan, and it’s snowing. I haven’t been to northern Saskatchewan, but I’ve been to similar latitudes in Canada that time of year and it is certain to be cold and snowing. Three people are driving south in a semi: a redhead, an old man, at the wheel, and his son. It’s hard to gauge the son’s age, but he could be pushing thirty. The girl is a new arrival from the Homelands and she’s on her way to Fabletown.

They’re driving her to Saskatoon, the largest city in Saskatchewan, where she’ll be flown out to New York. She is amazed. You have to remember that, in spite of its magical elements, the Homelands are socially and technologically a long way behind us. She has come through a portal and has, effectively, traveled a thousand years into the future. Planes, television, computers. She cannot even begin to imagine.

A car suddenly swerves ahead of them and from it jumps four goblins. They’re armed with maces, axes, knives. The two men jump down from the rig. The old man tells his son, ‘It’s time you learned what used to be the family business.’ He has a baseball bat. His son a hammer. Just the regular kind.

pp 04-08 Colin Returns

Snow’s sleeping when Colin appears to her in a dream. You’ll recall that Colin, one of the three little pigs, was the first victim of the failed Farm insurrection. His cousins killed him and left his head on a stake as a warning to Snow and her sister. He last appeared to her, as a head on a stake, when she was in her coma. That was almost nine issues ago. There is a little small talk. He lets slip that she is going to have a multiple birth and the she won’t be able to keep the children in the city, but he has returned to give her a warning. Things are going to get bad, soon, and for everyone. Maybe even for the mundies. He isn’t very specific. We’re never told who sent him. The Fables are going to have to mobilize everything they have, but that’s all he’s got. While he is telling her this we get a look at the situation up north. Three of the four trolls, the old man and his son are all lying dead in the snow. The truck is gone. Colin tells her, ‘to try hard to remember what I said when you wake up.’

pp 09-12 Greedy Ol’ Cole

It’s been a while since Bluebeard’s death, but Blue and Cole are still counting the money. His castle is full of treasure rooms and each is full of… well, treasure. Moreover, he has a huge fortune stored away in mundy bank accounts. The Mayor is beside himself with glee.

Bigby corners him and forces him to commit to a meeting. The Mayor has been avoiding him since the Wolf’s return. And no wonder. The charges laid against Charming and the inquiry into Bluebeard’s death were rushed through so that the mayor could, in Bigby’s words ‘get to the much more vital business of counting [Bluebeard’s] loot.’ The mayor isn’t too pleased with this approach. Bigby had been trying for years to charge Bluebeard legally. Perhaps he should consider all the time and effort that Charming has saved him.

Before moving on we get an odd scene with Flycatcher and Snow’s magic mirror. It’s the one her evil stepmother used. An interesting choice for office d├ęcor. Fly is cleaning it and asks it if it has seen anything of his lost wife and family, but, no, they’re beyond his powers to see. He’ll keep looking.

pp 13-14 Baby News

Snow is having a check up with Dr. Swineheart. Her pregnancy is coming along fine, though she complains that it’s ruining her reputation. The doctor suggests there are other options, but Snow brings him up short. She is not a mundy and if he ever raises abortion again, he can say goodbye to Fabletown.

pp 15-20 Wolf At The Gates

Bigby is hanging out at the front entrance to the Woodlands. The Mayor isn’t the only he wants to see today.

First up, Charming and his hobgoblin manservant Hobbes, formerly of Bluebeard’s employ. Bigby warns him that, while the Mayor may have put Charming outside the law’s touch, he can still get at Hobbes. Charming assures him that he can’t. That Hobbes will get a blanket amnesty shortly after they collect five hundred signatures.

The second person he is waiting for is the soon-to-be-mother of his cub. She still doesn’t want to talk to him, but she does concede that he deserves to be a part of his child’s life. She just wants (even more) time. He switches topics. Official business: why would Charming need five hundred signatures? She rushes to the office to check the election rules, only to discover Hobbes has taken them. She knows what Charming is up to: he’s going to run for mayor.

pp 21-22 Changes

The mayor is distressed. ‘Haven’t I done a good job?’ This meeting is cut short by the arrival of the redhead from Saskatchewan. ‘Hello. My name is Red Riding Hood and I’ve recently escaped from the Empire. I formally request sanctuary in Fabletown.’

And there you have it! The first chapter of the second part of our grand story, and the first chapter of one of the most popular stories, March Of The Wooden Soldiers. Up to this point we’ve looked at a community in exile, but a community safe from the wars they have run from. That all changes now. The Adversary has found them and his rate at conquering kingdoms is one hundred percent success. He has never lost. This is Fables as most of its fans know it and one of the best comics of the decade.

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