Fables, Vol. 19: Snow White, Bill Willingham and various artists

Fables- Snow WhiteFables: Snow White

Form: Comic Book (Trade Paperback)
Series: Fables, Volume 19 (issues 124-129 & backup stories for 114-123)

Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists:
 Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, Andrew Pepoy
Colourists: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Todd Klien
Cover Art: Mark Buckingham, Joao Raus

Rating3/53/53/53/53/5

Warning: This is volume 19 of an ongoing series  – it’s going to be impossible for me to avoid spoilers for previous volumes.

DEUS EX MATRIMONY

Once she was the beloved of Prince Charming, the greatest swordsman who ever lived. Then she married Bigby Wolf, the implacable offspring of the North Wind. But before she knew either one of those famous Fables, Snow White was betrothed to another,

Now this dark prince has returned, bearing unstoppable magic and seeking Snow’s lovely white hand in (re)marriage. Her current husband? He’ll have to go. Their children? No room for them in this happy family either.

It’s hardly the fairy-tale ending Snow and Bigby envisioned – which is why Snow, whose radiant exterior belies the depth of her icy resolve, will stop at nothing to prevent it from happening. But will Snow fall? Or will someone else be buried beneath the coming storm?

With Snow White, the acclaimed creative team of Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha is joined by guest artist Shawn McManus to unearth long-buried secrets and usher in a shocking new era for the entire Fables cast!

News broke last year that Fables would be ending for good with issue 150. As a massive Fables fan I actually couldn’t have been more pleased because, since issue 75 when the first main plot thread was resolved, the series has rather lost its direction. New threats have been brought in, new villains, but none with the same impact. New plots and ideas and characters have been cycled through at such a pace that I find myself losing track and longing for more of the original main characters to step back into the spotlight. It’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but I no longer instantly want to rush out and buy the trade paperbacks the moment they come out, I sit about not even realising it’s out then go ‘oh yeah…I should probably catch up on Fables‘ when I do chance to see a new volume in my comic store.  A planned endpoint is really what the series needs.

But onto this particular volume! Although I’ve rated it 3 stars I actually like it more than the last one. It’s a much welcome return to the core cast and the two characters who really sold me on the series right back at the beginning: Snow White and Bigby Wolf.

But, the problems I identified with the post-adversary plot lines are still there. The new villain comes from almost nowhere to suddenly dominate the storyline and then, just as suddenly, be vanquished. If this were a US TV series it would be one of those self contained episodes which has no impact on the overarching season arc. Except that Snow White will have an impact on the Fables universe, a pretty major one, and it makes the whole thing seem really oddly plotted out. This is how you chose to get rid of a main character? This? I think I just kind of stared at the page with a raised eyebrow for a full minute. This a character who, if he/she is gone for good, really deserved a better exit – this is more of a whimper than a bang.

Also, again with the relegating of female characters into mere observers of their own story. Fables gets a lot of praise for its female characters, but it still pulls the ‘men do the physical soldiery things, women do the thinky organising admin. things’ thing more often than I would like. It does get subverted at the end here, with Snow showing us some of her more badass skills, but I can’t help but feel Snow, her sister, and their witchy friends should have been able to work out a way to escape the villain far quicker than they did.

I enjoyed the story – up until the end, and I loved returning to the main characters, but it certainly wasn’t Fables at its best.

The sidestory for this volume was, again, Bufkin’s adventures in Oz and, again, I really don’t care about Oz. I can admire Baum for trying to write fantasy for children that had girls as the heroes and the rulers, but I still think his books themselves are pretty shite. I don’t like the world, I don’t like the characters and, in this case, I don’t like the art. I loved Bufkin when he was in Fabletown, and I’m very sad it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning, but I found his adventures in Oz dull and his romance with Lilly skin crawlingly yuck. So I’m very glad that subplot’s over, it felt like it went on forever.

The next storyline, according to wikipedia, is apparently  ‘Camelot’. And, as a King Arthur buff, I’m looking forward to it. But I’ve more or less accepted now that new volumes of Fables are never going to be as good as the first 11 were.

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