The tales of the Fables are in their final hours, but that doesn’t mean that things are getting dull around Fabletown, especially not for Bigby Wolf… Your Major Spoilers review of Fables #143 awaits!
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Mark Buckingham
Inker: Steve Leaialoha & Andrew Pepoy
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Fables: During the days of Geppetto’s reign, dozens of monstrous creatures were captured and held by his “boxers”, elite forces designed to neutralize threats to his rule. Though expected to be permanent, those boxes began springing open recently, and have somehow begun to influence Rose Red who, along with her “advisor” Morgan Le Fey, has begun amassing magic power for reasons unknown. It seems that Rose is finally ready to go to war with sister Snow White, who is otherwise occupied by her missing husband Bigby Wolf, presumed murdered, but actually gravely wounded, trapped in a halfway state and mindlessly rampagin through the Mundy world…
“THE MUNDYS CAN SEE US…”
The return of Bigby Wolf has thrown chaos into the already-fractious world of the Fables, with Snow White trying to seek her husband to find out what has happened to him, while the other Fables mobilize to find him. Unfortunately, the Mundys of New York have been finding the results of his lack of control, in bleeding heaps in the back alleys of the street and have put together a task force to bring down the “Beast Man.” This issue is full of shocking moments, as Mrs. Spratt takes up the mantle of the Fallen Mister Dark (and not coincidentally is the one trying to use Bigby against his friends and family) and Ozma and her “knitting circle” prepare to go public. Nearly every character swirls in and out of these stories, with Cinderella in play, Snow accepting her role as “black knight” in Rose Red’s demented world, and a tragic end for Weyland Smith at the farm. But the worst moment of all comes when Bigby’s fractured magical essence removes the glamour that keeps humans from seeing Fabletown, leaving a very confused NYPD to deal with a massive castle that wasn’t there yesterday. I made the foolish mistake of missing a couple of issues of Fables (which I now have to go track down), but things are quickly picking up speed towards the upcoming end of the series.
PREPARATIONS FOR WAR
I’m always fascinated by how complex the machinations in Fabletown are, as characters switch allegiances and sides, slip in and out of one another’s stories and hide their real motivations from others for reasons only they understand. This issue has a couple of truly wonderful artistic moments (such as Beast’s reveal of this secret weapon to find Bigby, as well as the reactions of the Mundy police to the sight of Fabletown), but most of the work here is the usual subtle brilliance from Buckingham and company. It’s really impressive to see how complex the casts’ facial expressions and body-language can be, and bits like the detail in Snow’s armor are wonderfully complex, too much so to even recognize all at once. Unlike most comic book stories, the classic Vertigo tales have always given us endings (bittersweet for Sandman, romantic for Preacher, triumphant for Transmetropolitan), and Willingham and company are on track to giving Fables the massive, Wagnerian climax that this story deserves, albeit seemingly at the cost of many of our favorite characters. All in all, this issue is confounding in its complexity, and my only complaint is that (as always) Fables expects that you come to the table knowing what has gone before so that you can fully appreciate what’s about to happen.
THE BOTTOM LINE: OMINOUS RUMBLINGS
I’ll tell you, that’s not really much of a complaint, either. Fables #143 continues the slide towards the end, leaving me hoping that we might possibly get our central couple their happy ending after all, but not filling me with confidence in that fact, and making for an intriguing read all around, for 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. As always with this book, I expect that I’ll want to buy the trade and read it all again in a big chunk, which is really the hallmark of the best Vertigo titles for me…