Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham (p), Steve Leialoha (i)
The book opens with Snow White dragging her sister on a trip up to the Farm as part of the punishment for her criminal activities in the opening arc. We also see Colin the Pig is tied up in the back of the truck, thus ending his adventure in the City. As the two sisters manage to get on each others nerves the entire trip up, we see Snow White does stumble across some rather disturbing signs that there might be trouble on the Farm, as she finds spent bullet casings littering the ground inside the Farm borders, and a magical spell designed to keep trespassers out should have kept hunters off the Farm lands. As they arrive we see the two women manage to interrupt a secret meeting that had pretty much the entire Farm gathered together in the barn, but when Snow White questions what the meeting is about, the animals are disturbingly uncommunicative. We then see a visit to the home of the Three Little Pigs later that night reveals that the meeting was about a grow sense of unrest, as several members of the Farm community want to return to their Fable lands, as they see the Farm as a prison. As Snow White makes it clear such sentiments are very dangerous, and that they could lead to trouble, we soon see that trouble has already arrived, as a very disturbing message is deliver to Snow White.
The start of a new arc on this series as Bill Willingham takes the book out to the Farm, which is home to the Fables who can't pass themselves off as humans. Now he doesn't completely cut off ties to the characters that made up the opening arc, as Snow White & her sister Rose Red are pretty much front and center in this opening issue, and it is their visit to the Farm that sets this story into motion. This opening issue also nicely establishes the underlying problem that is responsible for the odd behavior that Snow White is quick to notice, as we see the population of the Farm have some real grievances about their current situation, and based on the shocking final page of this issue it would appear that Snow White has arrived just in time for this unrest to switch from heated discussions to open hostilities. In any event even without the impending conflict that the final page would seem to suggest is kicking into gear, the simple fact of the matter is that the Farm makes for a wonderful second home for this series to set its stories, and it also expands the number of characters that Bill Willingham can draw upon. I mean, that one-page spread of the town meeting is littered with potential, and I can't wait for this story to start exploring this new cast of characters.
I must confess that the Farm looks like a rather pleasant place to live, and as such I can't see much cause for unrest. I mean, it's far from being a prison, and drive up to the Farm established the idea that the region was quite expansive. I also don't understand why the Fables can't leave the place if they were of the mind to, as while they would likely have to curtail the behavior that would make outsiders notice that they weren't regular animals, I think the human Fables have to abide by similar restrictions to keep their existence under the table. I mean yes most of the animals would have to avoid the more heavily populated regions, such as cities, and in the wild they would have to keep an eye out for hunters & other various dangers. However, the argument that they are trapped on the Farm wasn't established as well as it might've been, as at the very least the book should've made it clear that there are a set of rules that keep the animal Fables forbid them leaving the Farm. In fact the only Fables on the Farm that I can see being upset would be the giants that are mentioned by Dun the Pig, as their existence in the outside world would be hard to explain. Still, the final page makes it clear that there must be some restriction that is causing this unrest.
I was a bit annoyed when Mark Buckingham was seemingly cut out of the loop when "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" took on Humberto Ramos as its new regular artist, so imagine my delight when I discover he had found a new home on this series. Now I'm not sure if his stay will extend beyond this arc, but I certainly hope it does, as he's an ideal artistic presence for this title. Take the double-page establishing shot of the Farm, as not only is this a great piece of art, but it also does a fabulous job of establishing this new environment. There's an equally impressive one-page spread later in the issue, when we get our first look at the characters who populate the Farm, as this page draws its characters from close to two dozen different Fables. The art also does a wonderful job of establishing these characters are not mere animals, with the sequence in the home of the Three Little Pigs, being a particularly nice sequence, as the Pigs actually talk with their hands (hooves), and sport very human facial expressions. The final panel of this issue is also quite memorable, as it's certainly an attention grabbing visual, and it does a very nice job of establishing the idea that the problem on the Farm is far more serious than it had appeared to be.
A great start to what looks to be an impressive follow-up to the opening arc, as Bill Willingham takes us up to the Farm and introduces us to a whole another set of characters. From the very impressive establishing shot that gives us out first look at the Farm, to the final page that nicely conveys that idea that there is a very serious problem, this opening chapter manages to establish the Farm as an ideal secondary location for stories to take place. Now this opening issue didn't manage to convince me of why the population of the Farm would find the place so confining, as the place looks like a virtual paradise, but on the other hand the last panel of this issue does a wonderful job of suggesting the problem not only exists but the resentment has reached such a level that the Farm is a highly dangerous place for Snow White & her sister to be. The issue also does some nice work playing off the tensions that exist between Snow White & Rose Red, as the petty bickering between the two is quite entertaining.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!