Let the war begin

For almost a year now we’ve been riveted on the adventures of Flycatcher as he reclaimed portions of the homelands in the Good Prince story line. With that war at an end, it’s time for the Fables to kick it up a notch, but first we have to find out what Cinderella is up to.

With everyone’s attention on the looking glass, watching Flycatcher return to his full glory, many of the more important fables have been plotting and scheming a major campaign, and though some of the plans have been revealed (see last issue where the animal fables were given a chance to return home), Cinderella being sent off on a secret mission that not even Beauty knows about, has many wondering how involved they are going to be in the forthcoming war.

The reason Cindy’s mission is being kept secret is because she’s after a secret package located in Argentina, and it’s pretty clear that the fewer the people who know what’s going on the better. As a spy Cindy is not only easy on the eyes – something that is quite useful when trying to distract the enemy, but she is also a skilled secret agent with a license to terminate with extreme prejudice. And it’s a good thing Prince Charming, former Mayor of Fabletown, now director of Homeland Recovery, sent Cindy on this mission as her contacts quickly see an opportunity to sell her into slavery instead of delivering on the promised deal.

Cinderella is able to disarm or kill assailants with ease, and her quick wit and magical devices from Frau Totenkinder lead her to the package; Pinocchio returned from the Homeland.

There is a reason DC put Fables under the Vertigo banner. While many of the stories are tame; the occasional battle are pretty tame, and the nudity and sex have been almost entirely wiped from the series, Fables #71 cranks the violence up to 11 giving readers graphic depictions of poking the enemy’s eyes out, shooting and killing and the rest of like.

The art by Mark Buckingham continues to work well in Fables, however I did find the border art a bit distracting. Usually the border/gutter art is subtle and enhance the story, but the harsh black and white glass slipper motif kept drawing my eye away from the panel. I understand why it is being done though. The pink monologue boxes are there to let us know we are inside the mind of a pretty pretty princess, while the black and white borders hint to the good ol’ days of The Saint, Avengers, and other spy movies and television shows of the 60s.

And that is exactly what Bill Willingham has delivered; a spy thriller that keeps you guessing every turn of the page. While it is no surprise the duo don’t return to safety in this issue (it is a two part story after all), it is good to see the return of one of the Fables most evil villains Hansel, who comes across as this issue’s equivalent of Dr. No, Goldfinger, Ernest Blofeld and the rest of those neredowells.

I half expected to see the following as the super spy and the arch enemy exchanged words:
Cindy: Do you expect me to tell you all of Fabletown’s war plans?
Hansel: No. I expect you to die!

Had Willingham thrown that in it would have diminished the issue, but it would have been a great laugh.

The issue ends on a good hanging point as you wonder if what Cindy reveals is actually happening, or if she is just buying time. For the record, I actually believe she’s telling the truth.

I liked the pacing of the issue, as it moved very much at the pace you would expect in a spy thriller, yet at the same time, I did feel like there were certain moments where the time compression and decompression slowed the issue.

The unanswered question of how Cinderella became a super spy is a good one, and if/when the big war ends, perhaps Willingham will spend some time covering that period of her life. If nothing else, I sense a Cinderella one-shot set during the cold war coming soon.

The Good

  • Magic and spies, two great themes that taste great together
  • Graphic violence
  • The return of Pinocchio
  • Hansel

The Bad

  • The border art
  • The thought panels tended to waste space at times

I’ve been a Willingham and Buckingham fan (and Sturges as well) for a long time, and have been following the Fables series with great interest over the years. With Willingham focusing his attention on few titles instead of being spread thin beyond his means, he can crank out some intriguing and spell binding tales. Fables #71 is one such tale, earning the issue a strong 4 out of 5 stars.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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3 Comments

  1. April 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    I had to drop the monthly for financial reasons ,but I always feel like I am missing something when I see this book reviewed. Can’t wait for the trade!!!!

  2. Baal
    April 3, 2008 at 10:37 pm — Reply

    Digression: If being a popular Fable has saved Snow White from dying why didn’t the same thing save Gretel? Isn’t the story of Hansel and Gretel at least as popular as Snow White?

  3. Lou
    April 10, 2008 at 7:33 pm — Reply

    I have a request. I read Fables, so sometimes I want to be kept in the dark about the surprises, and other times, I want to know (or be reminded) about the spoilers that occur in the comics you are reviewing. So when you recently reviewed Fables # 71, you said,
    “The issue ends on a good hanging point as you wonder if what Cindy reveals is actually happening, or if she is just buying time. For the record, I actually believe she’s telling the truth.”
    I want to know what you’re talking about, or at least have the option to know. Can you include the spoiler in white text waiting to be highlighted, or something? Now I have to go back and see what she said, because I can not for the life of me recall right now. A piddlin’ point to be sure, but that is my request.

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