Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fables v14: Witches TPB

Well, that's odd. I was really concerned that I was losing interest in this, one of my favorite comics, after the uneven and confusing Great Fables Crossover. Turns out I shouldn't have been worried. I've never seen an excellent book lose its way, then return to the top so quickly.

Now that Bill Willingham is focusing on our core Fables, and more importantly, his great villains, the book is humming along once again. The Dark Man is a tremendous villain, and Willingham shows us a tremendous amount about him by following the history of one of the "Boxers," an organization of wizards who worked for the old Empire to eradicate evil magicians. But with the Boxers gone and the Empire fallen, there is no one around organized enough to stop the Dark Man. Enter the Witches of Fabletown. Totenkinder, long the head mage of the order, is slowly being phased out as she sets off on her own path to save Fabletown. I love that as soon as she heads off on her mission she becomes a beautiful young woman.

In her absence, Ozma and some other magicians start making plans for taking on the Dark Man. I'm concerned that they won't be strong enough, but Willingham has surprised me before. One of the things he does best is create new epic heroes for this title. I figured there was no way Boy Blue could defeat the Emperor, and there was no way the Frog Prince could be the epic hero he became either. Here we go again with Bufkin. With the Baba Yaga and her sons loose in the Fabletown offices, there is no one to stop the recently freed evil forces from seeking an escape. Bufkin has a little time, because the offices are in a pocket dimension and very hard to escape from, but he doesn't have much help. I'm thrilled to see how well he handles himself in dealing with a top-level Fable threat. Great stuff.

The final story is a riff on a couple classic stories, set in the Frog Prince's refuge Fable world. It's tremendous seeing the Prince try to get his professional and political life in order. His moments with Red Riding Hood are sweet, and I love seeing the politics of incorporating a large goblin population in a bigger society. Fantastic stuff.

Mark Buckingham handles the core story, as he usually does, and I can't imagine anyone else drawing Bigby Wolf or Snow White. He's got the style down. I really like the way Yaga's sons actually look heroic, and the designs for Gipetto's new "children" are great too. David Lapham draws the other chapters. It's a great choice. I love that Vertigo's biggest artists all stop by to draw the occasional Fable story.


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