In the last several issues of the phenomenally good Fables, we’ve seen our heroes begin their invasion of the Homeland. The Adversary isn’t taking that lying down and sends someone to Fabletown that knows how to deal in the mundane world.
As a Vertigo title, Fables is full of “not safe for the young’uns” content. But lately Fables has been rather tame. I still remember the first time Prince Charming was introduced to the reader – getting it on with some comely lass. Not something you would see in your normal comic fare to be sure. However, with the popularity of Fables ever increasing, some of the raw content seems to have dwindled, while more mature content started making appearances in DC’s regular issues like 52.
It’s good to see Charming’s mayoral duties aren’t interrupting his lifestyle. The story begins in the wee hours of the morning with Hobbes waking Prince Charming and his girl of the moment, to bring him some disturbing news – Hansel has arrived as an official envoy of the Adversary.
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With the recent incursions into Homeland territory, Hansel has arrived to diplomatically discuss an amicable solution. The problem is, Hansel was once one of the refugees, but turned on his fellow Fabletown citizens, and is now considered a traitor.
You probably remember the story of Hansel and Gretel, the two tykes who got lost in the woods, found a house made of candy, got caught by a witch who wanted to eat them, used their smarts, and ended up roasting the witch alive… yeah, that Hansel. Turns out his escape from the witch turned on the god portion of his brain.
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When Hansel and Gretel escaped to the mundane world, they discovered the one interesting fact about being a fable – dead is not always dead. Frau Tottenkinder, whom we’ve seen for many an issue, is actually the witch who lived in the gingerbread home, and whom Hansel had killed.
IMAGE REMOVED BY DC LEGAL DEPARTMENTTotally horrified the other fables would harbor a witch, Hansel sets off to live among the mundies. As Happily Ever After would have it, Hansel took to witch killing, and became a well known as an expert witch hunter. Via flashbacks we see Hansel traveling Europe killing with glee, becoming quite the serial killer of his time.
In a last ditch attempt to convince his sister to leave Fabletown, he becomes outraged when he discovers Gretel has actually been learning the dark arts from the very person who had originally wanted to bake them into a pie. He strikes her pretty hard, and it is implied that Gretel died (for good?).
Regardless, Hansel was then banished from every having contact with Fabletown again. As the world became more enlightened, and the need for a witch hunter dwindled, Hansel fled back to the Homelands to serve the Adversary by hunting down those who practiced sorcery illegally.
With someone, who knows how to live in the mundane world, and knows the workings of Fabletown, Hansel’s reappearance could be a very bad sign indeed.
While most of this issue is spent telling back story, I thought it was well done and moved along at a quick pace. I’ve been a huge fan of Willingham’s since his Ironwood/Clockwork Storybook days, and I know his sharp mind is spending this time setting us up for something major down the road. Remember how long he was able to hide the identity of the Adversary? Remember how shocked you were when you found out? I’m more than willing to go along for this three part ride to see how everything plays out.
Buckingham’s pencils are able to draw out a very creepy Puritan who revels in killing, and the detail in every frame never ceases to amaze me.
Even with the brief nudity, violence, and strong subject matter, I still feel Fables is holding back when compared to the content and subject matter addressed in issues from the first year of its run.
There is a great little backup story following a day in the life of the Mundy landlord who rented Hansel an apartment. He knows something isn’t right in the neighborhood. He starts to build an elaborate idea of what goes on in Fabletown, without realizing who he’s dealing with. I’m not sure if this is going to be a regular backup story or not, but the title “A Thorn in Their Side?” indicates we’ll be seeing more of Kevin Thorne in the future.
Overall Willingham’s knack for telling a solid story combined with Buckingham’s work is good enough to earn Fables #54 a solid 3.5 Stars.
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