Monday, April 6, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#29 - Frankenstein Versus The Wolf Man: War Stories, Part 2

Writer: Bill Willingham; Pencils: Tony Akins; Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti; Colour: Daniel Vozzo; Letterer: Todd Klein; Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-06 Meet Our Evil Scientists!

The three Germans responsible for recreating the Frankenstein monster are talking. One is a SS officer, who looks a bit line Colonel Klink. One is a scientist, a middle age, balding man with glasses. And the last is a stereotypical Nordic blonde assistant. Her father had led an earlier unsuccessful attempt to emulate Frankenstein’s work. The male scientist doesn’t like the project. The monster is too golem-like, too Jewish (a golem is not a reanimated dead man). His hope isn’t in the monster, but in another program, Project Volsung. Volsung is the name of a legendary Norse leader. The officer assures him that everything has been done to make Volsung a success, including feeding false information to the Allies. Nevertheless, the monster will be ready soon. Soon. Or maybe never. That’s Bigby cue. He rushes out and the woman screams, ‘It’s the American werewolf! He actually exists!’ Bigby is oblivious to this interesting statement. He also ignores the officer’s warning to his troops - that their bullets won’t hurt him and that they have to get the other troops. Bigby leaps onto the monster, intent on destroying it, only to have the monster itself reach up and fight back.

pp 07-13 Firefight At Frankenstein Castle

Frankenstein versus the Wolf Man is a fight that serves to destroy much of the lab. A shelf of jars, each containing a head, is knocked down and destroyed. One head seems to scream out. Are they conscious?

The American troops are under heavy fire and taking casualties. Suddenly Harp steps out ‘like a vengeful god of war’ dispatching Germans right and left until he falls under a hail of gunfire. Still alive, he tells them to get out. The castle is going to blow. He will make his way back to Bigby and then try to meet them back at the inn. They know they won’t be seeing him again.

By the time Bigby finishes off the monster, the officer has his other troops assembled. They are armed with silver bullets. The Wolf surrenders.

pp 14-19 Revelations

Turns out the whole Frankenstein monster project was a ruse. They had heard of the ‘unstoppable commando wolf man’ and Project Volsung was their means to capture him. Which they’ve done. They are now draining out jars of blood in order to gain the lycanthropic virus, from which they will create their own army of werewolf commandos. Of course, Bigby isn’t a werewolf. He hasn’t a virus. But the Germans won’t live long enough to discover this. The wounded Harp steps out and repeats his vengeful god act, killing everyone there. He frees Bigby before collapsing. His last words are to ask Bigby to tell each of his girlfriends that he thought only of her.

Bigby rejoins the American troops. There are only three left and one is badly wounded. Bigby says he can carry him if they’ll keep his secret. He transforms into a wolf and carries the man on his back. His brought a bag with him, but won’t let the others look.

pp 20-21 Back In The Present Day

Bigby takes Duffy’s book back to the Woodlands and gives it to Bufkin to file. He then opens the covering of the birdcage beside Snow’s desk. In it is the head of Frankenstein. Frankie. He spends most of his time sleeping. Finally, Bigby goes to see the grave of his ‘brave and honourable friend’ Shawn Duffy.

The ‘War Stories’ are a fun, well written break in our larger storyline. Which it feeds into inasmuch as it shows us Bigby’s military skills (for the first time). Obviously, he lied when he told Snow, back in issue 20, that he didn’t reveal himself during his wartime service. Willingham touches on a lot of stereotypes, but doesn’t give into any of them, and he gives us a new enigmatic hero in the form of Sergeant Harp. I wish I could say we’ll see him again, but we haven’t. With the next issue we are back in present day Fabletown.

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