Or – “Fall Of The House That Jack Built…”

Comics, as a medium (so-called because they’re usually neither rare or well-done, with apologies to Ernie Kovacs) tend to lack one important component important to most story-telling concerns: an ending.  So, when Bill and Matt announced that Jack of Fables was going to be wrapping up it’s run with #50, I was both happy and sad.  Happy because it’s rare for a comic book to get the big finale wrapup issues, but sad because it means no more JoF issues.  But, the important question we all have to ask is:  Does no more Jack of Fables mean no more JACK?

JACK OF FABLES #50
Writer(s): Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges
Penciler(s): Tony Akins/Russ Braun
Inker(s): Andrew Pepoy/Dan Green/Bill Reinhold
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Daniel Vozzo
Publisher: Vertigo (A DC Comics Imprint)
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously, on Jack of Fables: Jack of the Tales was pretty much run out of Fabletown on a rail, his money stolen, his Hollywood clout defanged, and his destiny awaiting.  A wild ride ensued, involving the Literals (embodiments of the very building blocks of storytelling themselves), a war within the Fables, successfully banging all three of the scrumptious Page sisters…  it’s been a good run.  Sadly, though, Jack’s return from rags to riches also led to his being transformed into a giant dragon, stuck in a cave, protecting his fortune while his son (Jack Frost) became a well-known hero in his own right.  Now, most everyone that Jack has encountered in his travels have been drawn to his cave, and some bad stuff is about to go down…

A Carefully Laid-Out Cast Of Players…

At the end of last issue, virtually everyone who has played a part in this series to date converged, and this issue opens with Jack Frost (now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars) greeting his father, both characters unaware of the truth of their identities.  The Page Sisters have arrived to collect the thousands of ancient lost tomes among Jack’s horde, while Raven has brought the non-human Fables from Golden Boughs in the hopes that the dragon knows the secret route to Fabletown.  Things get ugly quick, as the lovely librarians open fire with heavy weapons, as Jack engages his son in battle, biting Frost’s arm off (!!) and spitting him out.  In a weird meta twist, the omnipotent narration is in the form of a sports broadcast, and we cut away to find that Jack of Fables (in human form) is somehow the color commentator, allowing for Babe The Blue Ox to put in an appearance as well.  The multiple artists don’t negatively impact the story a bit, as I hadn’t even realized that there were multiple pencilers and inkers until I started putting together the credits for this review…

…And It All Still Goes To $#!+.

I have to say, though, that I was a little troubled by the construction of the rest of the story.  Jack narrating his own tale seems to be one of those moments where we see that the protagonist will survive the battle unharmed (which bothers me) but then the battle gets truly vicious and I see what is going on.  Fighty fighty in comic books isn’t usually this bloody, and I’m sad to say that my favorite character takes a particularly vicious wound in battle.  Jack Frost has a pretty awesome heroic moment (looking quite a bit like Kurt Russell in so doing)  but it’s not all that it seems.  It’s always difficult to discuss stories like this without giving away TOO much (after all, this is one that Fables fans will want to purchase for themselves, more than likely) but suffice to say that narrator Jack isn’t the only one shocked and dismayed at the way it all goes.  Even Gary the Pathetic Fallacy gets in on the act, pulling Excalibur from the stone (or at least from Wicked John’s gut) and things come to their inevitable close as soon as the mighty blade of Arthur comes into play.

The Verdict:  Kinda Miss It Already

The saddest part of all of this is the knowledge that it’s all perfectly correct, giving Jack not only an ending, but the kind of classical old-school (Stratford-Upon-Avon Junior High, to be specific) ending that Jack deserves, in all senses of the word.  Jack of the Tales has the last word, and thankfully, my problem with the narrative device was unsubstantiated.  Willingham and Sturges pull off a qualified win here, but I’m still not sure that the climax is truly up to snuff in comparison to the journey.  I AM glad, however, that the boys didn’t get to sneak this in under the radar, as their original plan was to make this the last issue without actually telling anyone.  As amazing as that might have been, in today’s comic reality, it would have had untold consequences.  I’m not entirely happy with the end of this series, which is probably a good thing, but overall Jack of Fables #50 is a goodie, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. I suppose a Page sisters miniseries with art by Frank Cho is too much to ask for now, huh?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: What final comic chapters hold the most meaning for you? (You can’t mention Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It’s a rule, that I’ve just made up.)

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. Kirby
    April 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    Awesome review. In answer to your question (right off the top of my head): Preacher, Transmetroploitan, and even though it was really dragged out Giffen’s end to his JLI writings. (Haven’t read the final Starman omnibus so can’t say).

    • Noobian74
      April 4, 2011 at 8:17 am — Reply

      Oh yeah. Transmetropolitan. “One percent.” It was done the way I want my name spelled: CORRECTLY!

  2. Damian Sheiles
    April 4, 2011 at 5:16 am — Reply

    Y The Last Man. Best final issue period.

  3. Russ Catt
    April 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    Good review.
    I was left feeling a little out of sorts at the end of the story. I felt there should have been a little… more. More of what, I’m not sure.

    In answer to your question, I’ll offer up the last issue of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run to others already mentioned.
    Is it a little strange that the majority of the titles offered are Vertigo titles? Are the main DC and Marvel stories incapable of “making an end of it”?

    • Kirby
      April 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm — Reply

      Theory: MOST Vertigo titles are creator owned, or at least written by one author throughout, so they have a more traditional beginninng, middle, and end. Plus just by the vary nature Superman, Spider-Man, or whoever must continue on in some fashion.

  4. Scott
    April 5, 2011 at 6:14 am — Reply

    The very end was amusing (and answered a question they raised in my mind over three years ago), but overall I don’t think the issue was up to the series’ usual standards. I think the problem was the desire to give it a Shakespearean ending (and I ain’t talking A Midsummer Night’s Dream); the need to do everything for that gave it a sense of being rushed (some things went by so fast in the margins I had to reread it to find everything) and, to be totally honest, some of what happened seemed a bit gratuitous.

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