Friday, December 2, 2011

Fables #111

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Shawn McManus

I'm never very sure what to do with Fables these days.  It's always an entertaining comic, but I often feel like something is missing, and this issue is a good example of that recurrent problem.

There are two stories going on here this month.  Bufkin is a prisoner in the Emerald City, and is facing execution for his involvement in the growing rebellion against the Emperor of Oz.  This is the strongest part of the comic, as Willingham has decided to make Oz the North Korea of the Homelands.  Propaganda abounds, and the state embraces a Kafkaesque approach to justice that Kim Jong Il would appreciate.  Bufkin almost gets his hero moment, but things rarely work out for everyone's favourite former flying monkey.

Most of this issue is centred on the on-going search for a new North Wind among Bigby and Snow's children.  One of the kids, Winter (really, you'd think that name alone would be enough of a guarantee that she would ascend the throne), has discovered the Homeland of the North, where she meets Bellflower (formerly Frau Totenkinder) and Dunster Happ, who have been there since the former North Wind fought Mr. Dark.  They return to the North Wind's castle, and Winter is proclaimed King.

There are a lot of problems with this part of the book.  First, Bigby and Snow White show the appropriate concern for their missing daughter, but don't actually seem to do anything to look for her.  For three weeks, were they just sitting around the castle worrying?  Neither of them usually act like that.  When she does return, there is little in the way of emotion, and Bellflower and Happ's accompanying her doesn't warrant a mention from anyone.  It feels like Willingham had to rush through this part of the story, and so glossed over a number of things that needed more exploration.

Overall, the quality on this book is great (much of the credit for that goes to Mark Buckingham and his crew of inkers), but I think from time to time Willingham loses track of his characters and how they should be acting.

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