REVIEW: Fables #114

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Or – “Realistic Portrayals Of Kids Are Difficult, But Awesome…”

The children of Bigby Wolf and Snow White have been through a lot since their grandfather (The North Wind) gave his life to defeat the evil creature known as Mr. Dark.  Sadly, it seems that things aren’t gonna be getting any easier.  Can’t a family of wolf/human/wind creatures just siddown and watch Community like normal folk?

FABLES #114
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Mark Buckingham/Shawn McManus
Inker: Steve Leialoha/Shawn McManus
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Fables:  The heir apparent to the throne of North Wind has been chosen, and Bigby has accompanied young Winter to oversee her tutelage as the new grand poobah.  This leaves the rest of his brood at home with Snow, whose patience seems to be wearing thin, while Therese finds that her mysterious gift is more than meets the eye.  (No, it’s not Optimus Prime.  Think before you ask these questions, Mitch…)

SEVEN KIDS?  I CAN BARELY KEEP UP WITH THE ONE…

Mark Buckingham is awesome.  As incredible as the writing is on this book (and it is incredible), Bucky’s art gives every character their own personality and body language, and nowhere is it more adorably evil than with the White/Wolf family of moppets.  A fight over a toy turns into a dressing-down for all the children, save for Therese, who tried to enlist mommy’s help figuring out what’s up with her toy boat.  I missed an issue or two, so didn’t realize the significance of this toy on first reading, but the incredibly disturbing cover has me antsy about it all, and worried for the little girl.  The build-up is quiet and subtle throughout the issue, interwoven with the tale of Winter’s education and a possible coup in the worlds of the wind.  Willingham has reached the point in this story where each chapter builds up on what has gone before, but still works as a stand-alone comic book story, and it’s one of the few titles that I can’t stand to read a month at a time.  As much as it pains me, I wait until three or four months worth of Fables have built up on the wall and read a big chunk at once, because trade-waiting is against my nature as a comic fan and part-time retailer…

WHAT’S A FAIRY TALE WITHOUT A STOLEN CHILD?

Things get even weirder as Therese’s boat starts talking to her, encouraging her to take it to the water so they can play.  I often complain about using children in jeopardy as a plot point, but here it’s played completely straight and it works to the story’s betterment (and speaks to the author’s skill) that I’m not bothered by it here.  The second half of this issue is a quick tale of Bufkin’s adventure in Oz, which has equally skilled visuals by Shawn McManus, and a change of fortune for the underground freedom fightery guys.  The only complaint that I have about this issue is that Fables expectation that you come correct, prepared to read a book, interpret it, and shaddup.  There’s no 24 “Previously” here, nor should there be, as these are the ongoing adventures of characters who live in the realm of story and myth.  The onus is on us, which isn’t a palindrome but is something or other like it…

THE VERDICT: INTRIGUING, UNNERVING, AND SOMEHOW SAD.

This issue carries a palpable sense of impending doom, but I’m unclear if it’s for Winter, for Therese, for both or neither.  There is clearly some sort of machination going on, and the conspiracy of cardinal winds bears watching as well, as well as a seeming spy in the midst of the Mayor’s attempts to rebuild Fabletown.  All in all, this particular issue has a lot of developments in it that will bear fruit in future issues, but still manages to feel like an important chapter in the ongoing story.  Fables #114 balances a lot of characters in several different settings, but never trips over itself or tries to be too clever, earning an always-excellent 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★★☆