February 16, 2009

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Fables Volume 8

Written by Bill Willingham
Illustrated by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, and Andrew Pepoy

Vertigo

This volume of the ongoing Fables story is titled Wolves, which is appropriate because the entire focus is on Bigby and his family.

We start with Mowgli continuing his search for Bigby, leading to some excellent sequences with real wolves. Willingham shows off what he does best here--using the legends associated with his various Fables cast members to tell a new story adding to the myth. Mowgli must return to his wolfly roots in order to find the former Sherriff, who's made it pretty clear he doesn't want to be found. The ending is a bit flat because we kinda know what has to happen, but the getting there is quite good. Props to Buckingham and Leialoha for some great art sequences in this one.

Next up is Bigby-as-terrorist, though I'm sure Willingham would take objection to my description. Politics I completely disagree with raise their ugly head again as the Big Bad Wolf fights the Adversary one on one and Bigby becomes the writer's personal mouthpiece. (I understand that Vertigo is for creator-made series, but I think DC editorial should have stepped in here. And yes, I'd have felt that way if it had been the reverse statement. Blatent speechifying in comics annoys the hell out of me.)

I will admit, however, that I found it less anoying this time than the racism of the prior volume that also had a political basis. At least this time, within the context of the issue, it made sense, if a kind of sense I find abhorrant.

Once he's finished, there's only one thing left to do--make an honorable woman of Snow. But will she have him? And how to deal with the thorny issue of Bigby's ban from the Farm? Let's just say that, for once, the Fables get to live Happily Ever After.

If you're looking for a jumping-off point for Fables, this is it. I'm not recommending that you do, but most things are tied up neatly and if you feel you've had your fill, issue 50 is a satisfying conclusion.

Want to proceed? Okay, then you can go to Shawn McManus' kinda sloppy follow-up tale with Cindarella, as she works the political front and must shrink herself in pursuit of a potentially rewarding treaty with Americ--er, I mean the Cloud Kingdoms. It feels very much like a fill-in issue, with hints of consequences but nothing earth-shattering. It's the type of work that could be done in a few panels of a larger issue, but does have a few good lines from the secretest of Fabletown secret agents.

There's also a bit of bonus material, including maps drawn by Willingham, with incidental art. (I'd love a Fables one-shot written and drawn by him, his art is pretty cool.) They've also including his script for issue 50, but I have to be honest, I'm not much into reading comics scripts.

This feels like the closing pages of a first act. I'll be curious to see where Willingham takes us from here.