Monday, February 23, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#23 - Our Second Amendment Issue

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

pp 01-07 The Morning After

Well, last Issue I theorized that Bill & Co. interrupted their first great epic adventure, to tell us the story of Cinderella's Parisian holiday, in order to economize on the number of trips Bigby takes out of New York, but here he is, still in Manhattan.

Over in Brooklyn our three wooden soldiers are standing outside Big Ned's Discount Guns. It’s due to open any time now. Lou is still missing his leg, but he seems to have picked up a crutch somewhere. They soon get inside and are asked what kind of gun they want. 'One of each kind,' Lou replies. Looking at the calendar behind Big Ned we can see its March the 19th. Blue was pouring his heart out about ‘The Last Castle’ only four days ago.

Back at the Woodlands Jack is having trouble filing the report of his attack. No one believes him. Snow asks, 'Jack, did you ever hear about the boy who cried wolf?' 'Sure, Snow,' he replies, 'he lives up on the seventh floor. So what?' Jack believes his wooden legged assailant and his buddies were Fables, but Bigby has a plane to catch.

Back in Brooklyn, Hugh, Drew, and Lou are having trouble understanding just why 'meatheads' would build so many different kinds of guns, they're also anxious to buy bombs, but their real problem is the legally mandated three day waiting period. They won't have it, and they won't have a 'meat' telling them otherwise. Poor Ned is brutally killed, pinned to the wall by more than a dozen knives. Stuck into his chest is a warning to other meatheads to mind their manners in future.

pp 08-13 Blue And Red Riding Hood

Part of the appeal of the blues is that it makes the listeners feel good. Country music ties into the same paradoxical vibe. So Mrs. Web’s complaints about Blue blowing his horn might be attributed to a tin ear, except that when his closest friend says, ‘give it a rest you prissy little baby’, maybe it's time he did. Pinocchio and Flycatcher are trying to get him out of his funk. Pinocchio even offers to spring for a hooker. They’re getting nowhere when the source of all this trouble walks right up to them. Riding Hood has come to apologize, but Blue stammers that she has nothing to apologize for, and they seem to make quick progress towards a reconciliation when she is distracted by something unforeseen, Pinocchio.

Pinocchio himself is surprised by the stunned look on her face. ‘You look like you swallowed a goat. Do I know you, or do I have a booger showing, or what?’ She manages to stammer that he is a legend, but he interrupts her to ask of Geppetto. We almost get far more than anyone would guess at this point, but she collects her wits and takes Blue to the place she spent the previous night at.

Blue is so eager to go he leaves his horn. He drops and dents it. Flycatcher wonders if it’s an omen. ‘Could be,’ replies Pinocchio, ‘I certainly think that woman is trouble.’

pp 14-16 Campaigning

Cole returns from dining among the mundy, only to see a Prince Charming campaign sign behind Grimble’s desk. He orders its immediate removal. Charming himself is preparing for victory by putting together his Administration, if that’s the correct term for a municipal government. It’s an indicator that he really is serious about his run for office. While his tales have centered on his love life, Charming has ruled a principality before. He is at the home of Beauty and the Beast. Right now he is a maintenance man and she’s a retail clerk, but Charming has a better offer. He knows that Snow will quit if he is elected and he thinks Bigby will too. He wants to offer them Snow and Bigby’s jobs.

pp 17-22 A Revealing Encounter

She takes him to a warehouse, which surprises him. It’s night, which surprises me. Just how long did it take to get there? They are still in New York. She wants to talk about Bigby and his suspicions of her, but Blue points out that Bigby hardly came out on top in her story and that it was only because of who his father is that he was even able to survive. And who is his father? She’s worrying for nothing, Blue tells her, it’s just red tape. She begins to ask him about the secrets and strengths of Fabletown, but he assures her that there won’t be any tests. In fact, he tells her that questions like that are likely to raise the Wolf’s suspicions. Getting nowhere, and perhaps fearing her questions could make Blue suspicious, she decides to distract him with sex.

It’s the morning after and Blue wastes no time telling her he knows she is not Little Red Riding Hood. He wants to know who she is, what she has done to the real Riding Hood, and how did she come to this warehouse? She tells him, calling him ‘young man’, that she won’t be spoken to that way. She touches his left arm. A jolt flashes through it, we can clearly see his skeleton, and leaves him gray and unconscious. Looking at him lying there I couldn’t help but wonder about more recent events in Blue’s life, and whether this spell left any magical residue.

Out of the shadows step her wooden henchmen, Hugh, Drew, and Louis. Should they use him as a target for their guns? No, she intends to make a stew from him - ‘Made into food? Oh, the humiliation.’ - but first she intends to question him.

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